American Football Association (AFA)
Sport American Football
Founded 1945
President Dan Szymanski
Inauguaral Season 1946
Number of teams 28
Country United States (USA)
Most Recent Champion Detroit Gladiators (5th title)
Most titles won by team Pittsburgh Miners (9)
TV network partners
Main Founding Investors Paul KingHal Granger, and Buzz Black
First game played New York Imperials vs. Cleveland Ghosts
September 21, 1946
Metropolitan Stadium. Manhattan, New York
Imperials won, 21-7
Related leagues Scandinavian Football League
Northern Football Association

The American Football Association is the highest level of professional American football in the United States.

History Edit

Professional football started in the upper Midwest in 1898 with the four-team Great Lakes Football League.  The GLFL gained enough popularity that it sparked the creation of a number of other regional leagues in the first decade of the 1900s.  These included the Midwest Football League (MFL), the Atlantic League (AL), the Texas League (TL), the Dixie Football League (DFL), and the Pacific League (PL).

By the late 1920s, professional football was beginning to gain a great deal of popularity, but the Great Depression of the 1930s devastated the leagues.  The Texas League and the Pacific Football Association collapsed, and more than half of the teams in the Dixie Football League folded by 1940.  Only the AL and the MFL survived, and both were reduced to eight teams each (down from 12 and 14, respectively).  When the United States entered World War II at the end of the 1941 season, each of the remaining professional leagues voted to suspend play and encourage their players to join the war effort.

Given that the popularity of the sport been meager for the previous two decades, many questioned whether or not any of the leagues would survive the hiatus.  This magnitude of this concern increased immensely in 1943, when Navy Captain Eugene MacMillan, the owner of the AL's successful Albany Indians franchise, was killed in action.  His family indicated that they had no interest in maintaining ownership of the franchise, and that they would liquidate it when the war ended.

Following this news, several of the less successful teams in each surviving league announced that they would fold.  This reduced the MFL to 6 teams and the AL to 5.  However, Paul King, the owner of the AL's Richmond Royals, developed a plan to save professional football.  First, working closely with Hal Granger, owner of the Chicago Butchers, he created a contract that would merge the MFL and AL into a single league:  the American Football Assosciation.  Second, he arranged for his friend, Warren Burns, to purchase the Albany franchise and relocate it to Boston.

The final challenge was the unexpected collapse of the Washington Blazers only three months before the start of the AFA's first season.  However, King, who had been elected AFA President, granted an expansion franchise to Baltimore businessman Buzz Black, and transferred the contracts of all of Washington's players to the new team.  With this success, the AFA entered the 1946 season stronger than either the MFL or AFA had been in 1941.


*Played as the Pittsburgh Railers from 1946-1948
**Played as the Wheeling Miners from 1946-1948
***Played as the Richmond Royals from 1946-1967
****Played as the Providence Angels from 1946-1951
*****Played as the Philadelphia Continentals from 1946-1947
^Expansion team which absorbed the Baltimore Legion's roster
^^Expansion team which absorbed the San Francisco Whales' roster and staff
^^^Suspended operations in 1974, roster & staff absorbed by Arizona. Will resume in 1976 with new staff & roster.

Team TimelinesEdit

Team Timelines

Team movementEdit

Year # of Teams Expansion Teams Folded Teams Suspended Teams Returning Teams Relocated Teams Name Changes
1946 12 Baltimore Legion
Boston Captains
Chicago Butchers
Cincinnati Guardians
Cleveland Ghosts
Detroit Gladiators
New York Imperials
Philadelphia Continentals
Pittsburgh Railers
Providence Angels
Richmond Royals
Wheeling Miners
1947 12
1948 12 Philadelphia → St. Louis Aces
1949 12 Pittsburgh → Philadelphia Railers
Wheeling → Pittsburgh Miners
1950 12
1951 12
1952 16 Houston Hurricanes
Los Angeles Comets
New Orleans Krewe
San Francisco Whales
Providence → Minnesota Angels
1953 16
1954 16 Washington Wasps Baltimore Legion
1955 16
1956 16
1957 16
1958 16
1959 16
1960 18 Colorado Centennials
Milwaukee Wolves
1961 20 Buffalo Stampeders
Seattle Grizzlies
1962 20
1963 20
1964 20
1965 20
1966 20
1967 22 Miami Suns
Texas Stallions
Richmond → Baltimore Royals
1968 24 Atlanta Rebels
Portland Dragons
1969 24
1970 24
1971 24
1972 24
1973 24
1974 24 Arizona Firebirds San Francisco Whales
1975 24
1976 26 San Diego Destroyers California Whales California Whales (from San Francisco)

See alsoEdit