Football Firsts Archive – I
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Pro Player
Pudge Heffelfinger, Yale
William "Pudge" Heffelfinger
The first professional football player was William "Pudge" Heffelfinger. He was paid $500 by the Allegheny Athletic Association on November 12, 1892 to play against the rival Pittsburgh Athletic Club. The money was well spent as AAA defeated PAC that day.

The 6'2 2/3" 205 lb Heffelfinger was the greatest star of the day, having just finished four years at Yale, where he made All-American three times. It helped that his coach, Walter Camp, named the all-star team each year, but no one disputed that the Minneapolis-born Pudge belonged on it.

While various athletic clubs had for years remunerated top players by various means, such as paying expenses twice or awarding an expensive watch that the player could pawn, the AAA's contract with Heffelfinger is the first one on record that specifically states a cash amount for his participation.

NFL All-Star Game
Clark Hinckle, Green Bay Packers
Clark Hinckle

Cecil Isbell, Green Bay Packers
Cecil Isbell

Gaynell Tinsley, Chicago Cardinals
Gaynell Tinsley

The first NFL post-season All-Star game was played on January 15, 1939, at Wrigley Field – not the one in Chicago but the other baseball park in Los Angeles. The league champion New York Giants played a team composed of players from the other NFL teams and two Pacific Coast Professional Football League clubs. The Giants won 13-10.
Wrigley Field, Los Angeles
Wrigley Field, Los Angeles
Fewer than 15,000 attended the contest, whose proceeds went to charity. The game was also considered an opportunity for the City of Angels to show that it deserved consideration for an NFL franchise.

Called "the greatest collection of stars ever gathered at one time," the All-American team included:

  • Backs: Sammy Baugh, Clark Hinkle, Cecil Isbell, Ernie Pinckert, Lloyd Cardwell.
  • Linemen: Gaynell Tinsley, Bruiser Kinard, Joe Stydahar, Perry Schwartz.

New York countered with Ed Danowski, Mel Hein, Ward Cuff, Hank Soar, and Ed Widseth.

Giants owner Tim Mara expressed disappointment in the turnout. "They told me the game would turn the customers away, and I believed 'em. So I brought the team out and the game cost me plenty of money, not to mention the tough afternoons I had at Santa Anita [race track]."
Ed Danowski, Giants
Ed Danowski

Mel Hein
Mel Hein

Tim Mara, Giants owner
Tim Mara

Televised Game
The first televised football game took place on September 30, 1939. Waynesburg College of Pittsburgh visited powerful Fordham University at Triboro Stadium on Randall's Island in New York City.

NBC telecast the game on its experimental station W2XBS based in the Empire State Building. The range of the broadcast was approximately 50 miles to a potential audience of about 100 TV sets. So Waynesburg fans in Pittsburgh could not receive the telecast even if they had a set. Many viewers watched on monitors while visiting the RCA Pavilion at the World's Fair in New York. NBC used only one camera, which was stationed on the sideline. Famous radio sportscaster Bill Stern did the play-by-play.

Waynesburg's Bobby Brooks entered the sports history books by running 63y for the first televised TD. However, that was it for the visitors as Fordham won 34-7.
Filming First Televised Game
Michael "Mo" Scarry, later a defensive line coach for the Miami Dolphins, was one of the Waynesburg players. According to Scarry, "some of the early guys going into the game — half of them stumbled or fell over the wires."
Pro Telecast

The first televised professional football game took place on October 22, 1939, at Ebbets Field, Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Dodgers of the NFL defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 23-14 before a crowd of 13,050.

NBC telecast the game on its experimental station W2XBS based in the Empire State Building. The range of the broadcast was approximately 50 miles to a potential audience of about 100 TV sets. Many viewers watched on monitors while visiting the RCA Pavilion at the World's Fair in New York.

NBC utilized two iconoscopic cameras – one in the box seats on the 40-yard line and the other in the mezzanine section. The announcer was Skip Walz.
Announcer Skip Walz
Skip Walz
Walz had no monitor to show him what the audience was watching. "I'd sit with my chin on the rail in the mezzanine, and the camera was over my shoulder. I did my own spotting, and when the play moved up and down the field, on punts or kickoffs, I'd point to tell the cameraman what I'd be talking about."

The game began at 2:30 p.m. and ran for two hours and thirty-three minutes. Of course, there were no commercial interruptions during the 1939 game. There were, however, interruptions of another sort.

"It was a cloudy day. When the sun crept behind the stadium, there wasn't enough light for the cameras," remembered Walz. "The picture would get darker and darker, and eventually it would go completely blank, and we'd revert to a radio broadcast."
L.A. Rams Owner Dan Reeves
Dan Reeves
Full-Time Scouting Staff
The first full-time scouting staff employed by a pro team was hired by Dan Reeves, owner of the Los Angeles Rams from 1941-1971. Reeves did so soon after he moved the Cleveland Rams to LA in 1946, thus opening the West Coast to the NFL.

Reeves was the first NFL owner since the 1920s to sign an African-American player when he inked Kenny Washington of UCLA to a contract in 1946. Reeves also initiated his "Free Football for Kids" program at the L.A. Coliseum. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967. Dan died in 1971.

All-American Team
The first college football All-American team was selected in 1889 by Walter Camp, the football coach at Yale.
  • Camp is rightly called the "Father of American Football" for his monumental contributions to the rules, coaching, and popularity of the game.
  • Camp's 1888 Eli team won all 13 of its games, outscoring the opposition 698-0!

The first team that Camp compiled with the help of sportswriter Caspar Whitney hardly represented "America."

  • All the players were from what are now called Ivy League colleges since almost all universities playing the new game were in the Northeast.
  • Yale had three players on the squad, including future Hall-of-Famers Amos Alonzo Stagg and Pudge Heffelfinger.
  • Princeton contributed five, including QB Edgar Allan Poe, whose father was a cousin of the famed writer.
  • The remaining three spots went to Harvard gridders.
  • Since the rules had been changed a few years earlier – at Camp's urging – to reduce the number of players on each side from 15 to 11, the 1889 All-American team featured four backs and seven lineman. Although the backs were not differentiated as to QB, HB, FB, the linemen included two each of E, T, and G and one C.

Camp continued selecting his annual all-star team until his death in 1925.

  • As football spread west, Camp often missed Yale games to scout a Midwest player recommended for All-American consideration.
  • Each season, the Walter Camp Foundation continues to honor an All-American team together with a Coach of the Year.

Walter Camp
Walter Camp

Amos Alonzo Stagg
Amos Alonzo Stagg

Bill Walsh
Bill Walsh
NFL Draft Website

The first NFL Draft Scout website was compiled in 1997 by the late Bill Walsh.

  • Originally called Coach Bill Walsh's Online Draft Analysis, it has evolved into NFL Draft Scout.
  • The site was opened to the public in 2003 and continues to provide detailed analysis of every college football player who might be drafted.
African-American Draft Choice

The first African-American drafted by an NFL club was George Taliaferro, HB from Indiana. He was picked by the Chicago Bears in the thirteenth round of the 1949 draft but elected to sign with the Los Angeles Dons of the AAFC.

Taliaferro played with the Dons in 1949; New York Yanks 1950-51; the Dallas Texans 1952; Baltimore Colts 1953-54; and Philadelphia Eagles 1955.

RB George Taliaferro
George Taliaferro


Pro Player

NFL All-Star Game

Televised Game

Pro Telecast

Full-Time Scouting Staff

All-American Team

NFL Draft Website

African-American Draft Choice

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