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  • Writer's pictureDominic Konareski

The New York Yankees Of Football

Everyone says "The New York Football Giants” because at the time of the Giants’ formation there was MLB’s New York Giants. Despite the baseball Giants departing to San Franciso more than 50 years ago, the ‘Football Giants’ are still referenced on a daily basis.

No-one says “The New York Baseball Yankees,” which is weird considering there was the New York Yankees of the NFL in the midst of the baseball Yankees’ championship winning years during the roaring 20s.

The New York Yankees were a short-lived professional American football team from 1926 to 1929. The team was a member of the first American Football League in 1926, and later the National Football League from 1927 to 1929. They played their home games at Yankee Stadium.

The New York Yankees are often confused with the New York Yankees that played in the 1950s, those two teams have no relation to each other.

The Yankees were created from a contract dispute from Red Grange and his former Chicago Bears team. The halfback was a superstar in Chicago and did a lot to promote the NFL.

Red's agent C. C. Pyle challenged Bears owner George Halas in 1926, by stating that Red's contract was owned by himself, and not Halas. Pyle then approached Halas with demands of a large salary for Grange and one-third ownership of the team, of course Halas didn’t accept that offer.

George Halas declining to accept Pyle’s offer led Pyle himself to the NFL’s 1926 winter meetings in a quest for a new franchise, he wanted it to be in New York at Yankee Stadium. Knowing odds were not in his favor, Pyle threatened to start his own league, and owners believed that he wasn’t bluffing.

A compromise was proposed with a franchise being started, but in Brooklyn instead of the Bronx. Pyle already rented Yankee Stadium; he intended to play there one way or another.

Rejecting the NFL's offer, Pyle set out to make good on his threat. With his new New York Yankees franchise as its flagship, Pyle created the American Football League, better known as the AFL.

Coached by Ralph Scott, the New York Yankees went 10-5 in their inaugural season. Despite massive turnout numbers that made the NFL’s Giants appear as weak, the AFL would still fold at season's end.

The Brooklyn Horsemen disbanded, being a one-and-done NFL team in 1926, but the team's franchise was never withdrawn or canceled by the league. New York Giants owner Tim Mara was awarded the Horsemen franchise in payment of a debt and proceeded to lease it to C. C. Pyle for his New York Yankees team. Mara and Pyle were known to be big rivals in the football world, and of course there was a catch to the agreement.

The agreement limited the number of home games that the Yankees were permitted to play in its namesake stadium (four in 1927) and forced it to be primarily a road team. This arrangement lasted for three years.

The Yankees didn’t play after 1928 and it officially folded after the 1929 season. The franchise would have an overall record of 21-21-2, with a 11-16-2 NFL record. The team was home to four future hall of fame players: Morris Badgro, Ray Flaherty, Harold “Red” Grange and Mike Michalske.

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