The Hammond Pros (1920–1926)

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  2. March 12, 2013 2:44 pm

The Hammond Pros (1920–1926)

Most twenty-first century fans of the National Football League are probably unaware of the fact that Hammond, Indiana, had an NFL team that participated as a traveling team in the 1920s. For seven seasons beginning in 1920, the Hammond Pros graced the turf at what is now known as Wrigley Field in Chicago.

Before the foundation of the National Football League, the Hammond team played as a semi-pro team for several years. In the 1919 season, just before it joined the NFL, the team’s star was wide receiver George Halas. Halas would go on to become the winningest coach in NFL history for the Chicago Bears. Don Shula would later top this record.

The Hammond Pros franchise had its most successful season in 1924, when the team finished 10th in the NFL with a record of 2 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie. The coach in 1924 was Wally Hess. Hess won the most of any of the five coaches in Pros history, and he finished his three-year stint as coach in 1924 with an overall record of 3 wins, 12 losses and 3 ties. In seven years of playing in the NFL, the Hammond team finished with an all-time win-loss record of 5-26-4 and never finished higher than 10th in the standings.

Dr. Alva Young, a boxing promoter, was one of the founders of the Hammond Pros. The Pros were a forward-thinking team and had six African American players on the team during their existence. The entire NFL only had nine black players in this era. One of the Pros’ players, Fritz Pollard, also served briefly as the head coach of the team. Pollard has the distinction of being the first black head coach in NFL history. Despite its short history, the Hammond Pros franchise nonetheless had an important part in the history of the NFL.

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