The Cleveland Indians may now be widely known as a baseball team, but in the franchise’s early years, it competed for local attention with another Cleveland Indians, the team that gave birth to Cleveland professional football.
Formed in 1916 and competing in the Ohio League, the gridiron gladiators of the Cleveland Indians enriched Forest City with a new tradition. The team morphed into the Cleveland Tigers in 1919 and joined the American Professional Football Associate (APFA). Two years later the APFA became the National Football League (NFL) and the Tigers returned to their original name the Indians.
Perhaps the greatest and most versatile athlete ever, Jim Thorpe anchored the Cleveland team as player, coach and even APFA league president. Thorpe set the standard for Cleveland football excellence, which was carried forth by original head coach of the Cleveland Browns, Paul Brown, who molded players to fulfill such large shoes. Under Brown, Cleveland would win seven league championships, four in the All-America Football Conference and three in the NFL. Pay homage to Cleveland football’s rich pedigree.