Regarding the history of the National Football League (NFL), one team stands out as the "first" - the Dayton Triangles. Established in 1913 as the "Dayton Football Club," they were one of America's pioneering professional football teams. Let's look at the storied origins of the Dayton Triangles and their role in shaping the NFL.
The Dayton Triangles joined the newly-formed American Professional Football Association (APFA) in 1920, which would eventually morph into the NFL two years later. This young league sought to develop a standardized professional football competition and establish itself as a legitimate sports organization.
Initially, the team comprised dedicated athletes and enthusiasts who simply enjoyed playing football. They took on local and regional teams in exhibition matches, honing their skills and building a reputation as a formidable squad. Recognizing their potential, the APFA invited the Dayton Triangles to join the league alongside eleven other teams for its inaugural season.
Under the guidance of manager Leo Lyons and with the experienced guidance of the era's most influential player-coach, Lou Partlow, the Dayton Triangles were ready to make their mark in the APFA. The team's colors of orange and black became iconic, and from the onset, it was evident that they were embarking on a historic journey.
In their debut season, the Triangles faced the likes of the Columbus Panhandles, the Cleveland Indians, and the Chicago Tigers, among others. Although they faced formidable opposition, the team performed admirably, displaying determination and skill on the field.
While the Dayton Triangles' success in terms of wins and losses may not have been particularly noteworthy, their presence and participation were invaluable in establishing the credibility and stability of the nascent league. The Triangles showcased the potential of the professional football scene and set the stage for the future growth and development of the sport.
Over their nine seasons in the APFA and NFL, the Dayton Triangles played 92 games, boasting a record of 23 wins, 53 losses, and 6 ties. While their win-loss record may not dazzle, it is essential to note that the team's contribution to the league extended beyond mere statistics.
The Triangles were one of the few teams that consistently operated independently, without the backing of a major industrial company, as was common at the time. This independence and their perseverance through financial struggles showed the strength and resilience of the team and the sport itself.
Unfortunately, despite their early involvement and their crucial role in establishing the league, financial difficulties led to the disbandment of the Dayton Triangles after the 1929 season. While the team may no longer be active, they are fondly remembered as the first NFL team, and their legacy lives on in the history books of professional football.