A genealogy of American football.
Rumors are swirling yet again that professional football might soon return to Los Angeles. But until that happens, L.A. firmly remains in the distinguished club of American cities that formerly boasted an NFL squad. Who else is on the list? How about Hammond, Illinois; Muncie, Indiana; and Racine, Wisconsin.
The NFL may be one of the world's most profitable sports enterprises today, but the league's roots grew out of small cities. As this poster from historyshots.com shows, the modern NFL was largely limited to the Great Lakes region when it launched in 1920. Tonawanda, New York, located along Lake Erie with a current population of only 15,000, was home to the most modest professional football team ever assembled.
The Tonawanda Kardex were America's 20th century gladiators. They didn't have a home stadium, instead agreeing to play all of their games on the road. Detroit, Chicago, Buffalo—these were the coliseums to which tiny Tonawanda planned to venture. But after a 45-0 romping by the in-state rival Rochester Jeffersons, the Kardex quickly dissolved.
The poster outlines the NFL's progression to mostly larger, coastal cities during the course of the last century, with one obvious exception: modestly sized Green Bay, Wisconsin. If an NFL team can survive in a market like Green Bay for over 90 years, one has to imagine that professional football can ultimately rebound in a city as big as Los Angeles.