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.