POTTSVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) – The championship team that wasn’t awarded a championship.
Football was growing in America and teams were being created everywhere, including Pennsylvania’s coal region.
The Anthracite League included teams from Gilberton, Edwardsville, Coaldale, and Pottsville.
The league drew the college’s top talent with Pottsville drawing names like star quarterback Benny Boynton and Penn State halfback Carl Beck in 1923.
John Striegel, the owner of Pottsville’s team decided they needed new uniforms and a nickname so he reached out to a local shop to create jerseys and told them to use whatever color they wanted.
The store agreed to make the jerseys and sent Pottsville maroon-colored jerseys, creating the Pottsville Maroons.
Pottsville would win the Anthracite League Crown in 1924 and had their eyes on the National Football League.
The NFL agreed to have Pottsville but Pottsville didn’t have the funds to bring an NFL team to the city. That was before the city residents raised the money to buy a franchise from the NFL.
In 1925, the Pottsville Maroons would join the NFL with the following teams:
- Chicago Cardinals
- Detroit Panthers
- Akron Pros
- New York Giants
- Frankford Yellow Jackets
- Chicago Bears
- Rock Island Independents
- Green Bay Packers
- Providence Steam Roller
- Canton Bulldogs
- Kansas City Cowboys
- Hammond Pros
- Buffalo Bison
- Dayton Triangles
- Duluth Kelleys
- Columbus Tigers
- Milwaukee Badgers
- Rochester Jefferson
Pottsville would shut down Buffalo in their first-ever NFL game 28-0.
Dominating the NFL, Pottsville would take on the Chicago Cardinals who was in first place at the time and Pottsville would win 21 to 7.
This win all but secured their right to win the NFL Championship since in 1925 the NFL went by the best win percentage.
Pottsville would later beat Frankford to secure a game against the former Notre Dame stars due to the fact that Frankford signed a contract that the best team in Pennsylvania would play Notre Dame, no matter which team in Pennsylvania that may be.
Pottsville decided they wanted to play at a larger field to show the world that Pottsville could play with anyone and sell any field out.
The game would be played at Shibe Park in Philadelphia which at the time was in Frankford’s territory.
Pottsville would go on to beat the Notre Dame Stars 9-7.
But Frankford’s General Manager Shep Royle would protest after the win and win that protest which would result in Pottsville being stripped of their NFL Championship.
The NFL Championship was now headed to the Chicago Cardinals due to the Cardinals now having the higher winning percentage even though Pottsville beat them that season.
The Cardinals refused to accept the NFL Championship but the NFL still recognizes the Cardinals as the 1925 NFL Champions.
After 1925, Pottsville would have one winning season in 1926 before losing money and selling the team and moving them to Boston.
This wasn’t the end for Pottsville as they fought the issue twice, once in 1967 when the NFL led an investigation into the 1925 conflict but the owners voted to keep the championship with the Cardinals by a 12-2 vote.
In 2003, the Governor of Pennsylvania was Ed Rendell who wanted the NFL to review the Pottsville conflict once again.
The NFL held a vote among the owners to see if they should discuss the issue, the vote ended up 30-2 in favor of not having the discussion.
The two teams that voted to have the discussion was the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles.
This was the last time the Pottsville Maroons were discussed by the NFL or even Pennsylvania.
If you attend the NFL Hall of Fame, you will find a small section that showcases some Pottsville Maroons memorabilia.
Will Pottsville ever get that NFL Championship that they earned?