Joseph F. Carr

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Columbus Panhandles Football Team.jpg
Group portrait of the Columbus Panhandles Football Team, identified from left to right as: John Nesser, Frank Nesser, Reagan Burton, Andy Kertzinger, Chief Henry, Ed Hughes, Joe Carr (founder and manager), Harry Greenwood, Phil Nesser, Fred Nesser, Baker, and Carlise. The Panhandles were one of the first professional football teams to join the American Professional Football Association, renamed the National Football League, when it formed in 1920. They operated as a professional football franchise from 1920-1922, then again from 1923-1926. Note: Complete name identification and date provided by Chris Willis, former OHS

employee now with NFL Films.

Joseph F. Carr was born on October 22, 1880 (some sources claim that his birthday was on October 23, 1879), in Columbus, Ohio. As a young man, Carr, a newspaper reporter, became fascinated with football. In 1904, he formed the Columbus Panhandles. Initially, the Panhandles represented Columbus against other non-professional football teams. Prior to 1920, the Panhandles only had seven winning seasons.

In 1920, Carr helped establish the American Professional Football Association. This organization became the National Football League (NFL) in 1922. Among its original fourteen teams was the Columbus Panhandles, which would eventually become known as the Columbus Tigers. During 1920, the team’s first year in the American Professional Football Association, the Panhandles finished thirteenth. The next two seasons, the squad finished seventeenth and eighteenth respectively, near the bottom of the league. Following the 1922 season, the Panhandles became the Columbus Tigers. This new team played in the 1923 to 1926 seasons before disbanding. In 1923, the Tigers attained their best ranking in the NFL, finishing eighth. The next season, the squad finished tenth, and then ended their final two seasons twentieth and nineteenth respectively.

Carr became the president of the American Professional Football Association in 1921. He also served as the first president of the National Football League beginning in 1922. Carr remained as president of the NFL until his death on May 20, 1939. Under his leadership, the NFL emerged as the dominant professional football league in the United States. Besides establishing the NFL as a viable entity, Carr’s other important contribution to professional football was the prohibition of college players on professional teams. Because of Carr’s important contributions to establishing the NFL, he won election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963.

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