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"When you talk about the birthplace of professional football, you're talking about Pennsylvania, you're talking about the Maroons."--Dan Rooney
In 1925, the Pottsville Maroons, a football team from the heart of Pennsylvania coal country, joined the fledgling National Football League.
Built by an eccentric owner, molded by a visionary coach and loaded with hardscrabble miners, college All Americans and the 'sky's the limit' ethos of the Roaring Twenties, the Maroons did the unthinkable and dominated the NFL in their rookie season. (Their improbable rise was chronicled each week in the local paper by a rookie Pottsville sportswriter named John O'Hara.) Little Pottsville outscored its first seven opponents 162-6. The boys so thoroughly pummeled one opponent, angry fans shot up their train car as the Maroons rode out of town. In the final game of that first season the Maroons traveled to the Midwest to face the league-leading Chicago Cardinals in what was viewed as the championship game for 1925. The Maroons overcame a Windy City snowstorm and an injury to their best player to defeat the Cardinals 21-7.
Claiming the upstart Maroons had violated the territory of another franchise by playing Notre Dame in Philadelphia, the NFL suspended Pottsville and awarded the 1925 NFL championship to the Chicago Cardinals. The Cardinals refused to accept the bogus title and the 1925 crown was never officially awarded. For more than 80 years, fans of the Pottsville Maroons-the team Red Grange said was the "most ferocious" he ever faced-have fought to have the 1925 title returned to its rightful owners.
With Breaker Boys their remarkable story is told at last.
Like the thousands of Philadelphia Eagles fans that live in Schuylkill County, Nick Barbetta will cheer for the Birds to win Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Arizona Cardinals.
The 94-year-old Schuylkill Haven man is a diehard Eagles fan, and seeing his beloved team win their first Super Bowl is a lifelong dream.
I certainly am (an Eagles fan), he said Friday. This is Eagles territory.
There’s another reason Barbetta will root for the Eagles to win Sunday.
He wants to see the Cardinals Curse continue.
Barbetta may be the only living link to the 1925 Pottsville Maroons, having watched their games at Minersville Park as a 10 year old. Read More from the Pottsville Republican
FROM ESPN THE MAGAZINE:
Pottsville Maroons fans have another reason to bemoan their lost NFL title. Rankings guru Jeff Sagarin
has run the numbers of the disputed 1925 season (in which both the Maroons and the Cardinals claimed
the top spot) through his computers and GUESS WHAT? The Maroons are No. 1, two slots above the titleholding
Cards. Says Sagarin: “I hope Pottsville gains the recognition it’s been unjustly denied.” So do we.
For much more on this story go to: http://sports.espn.go.com/espnmag/story?id=3388079
David Fleming, who argued again and again there was no territorial rule to prevent the Pottsville Maroons from playing the Notre Dame All-Stars on Dec. 12, 1925, won The Great Maroons Debate on Friday night.
The historic debate, organized by Lasting Legacy of Pottsville, pitted Fleming against Joe Horrigan, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s vice president of communications and exhibits.
The issue: Do the Pottsville Maroons deserve the 1925 NFL title?
According to three judges scoring the event, Fleming won the debate 254-218.
Four of the 13 questions, which moderator Jim Coles, sports director for WNEP-TV 16, asked during the two-hour event before a packed house at Sovereign Majestic, dealt with the topic of whether the Maroons infringed on the territory of the Frankford Yellow Jackets when the Maroons played the Notre Dame All-Stars at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park.
And Fleming, the Davidson, N.C., author of Breaker Boys: The NFL’s Greatest Team and the Stolen 1925 Championship, said those questions were the most crucial.
The territory rule never existed. And to this day it probably still doesn’t exist, Fleming said.
Horrigan answer to Question 6 Did the NFL have a written rule of territorial rights during the 1925 season? Can its existence be verified? was an important point in the debate.
Horrigan quoted the 1926 league rules concerning territorial rights (Section 14, Article 6) then said, I cannot produce any written rules of any sort from 1925.
I think that’s pretty clear that nobody knew if a rule existed, Fleming said.
I think that’s a persuasive fact, said one of the three judges, John E. Jones III, Pottsville, a U.S. district judge. Much of what Joe argued was from 1926 and it seems to me that he argued that things were much clearer in 1926 than they were in 1925, and that seems to prove David’s point, that this was an ad hoc decision by the (then-commissioner) Mr. Carr and the league in 1925.
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