FANDOM




All-America Football Conference
Sport American football
Founded 1944
Inaugural season 1946
No. of teams 8
Country(ies) United States of America
Ceased 1949
Last champion(s) Cleveland Browns

The All-America Football Conference (AAFC) was a professional American football league that challenged the established National Football League (NFL) from 1946 to 1949. One of the NFL's most formidable challengers, the AAFC attracted many of the nation's best players, and introduced many lasting innovations to the game. However, the AAFC was ultimately unable to sustain itself in competition with the NFL. Three of its teams were admitted to the NFL: San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Colts (not related to the later NFL team that would play in Baltimore from 1953 through 1983, now the Indianapolis Colts).

The AAFC was the second American professional sports league (the first being the third American Football League) to have its teams play in a double round robin format in the regular season: each team had a home game and an away game with each of its AAFC "brethren."

The Cleveland Browns were the AAFC's most successful club, having won every annual championship in the league's four years of operation.

The AAFC was founded by Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward on June 4, 1944. Ward was also the originator of baseball’s All-Star Game and football’s College All-Star Game.

Ward brought together a number of wealthy pro football enthusiasts, some of whom had previously attempted to purchase NFL franchises. Ward had previously encouraged the NFL to expand, but now he hoped to bring about a permanent second league and a championship game with the NFL, similar to baseball’s World Series.

On November 21, 1944, the AAFC chose Jim Crowley, one of the "Four Horsemen of Notre Dame", as its commissioner. Not coincidentally, the NFL commissioner at this time was Elmer Layden, another of Knute Rockne's legendary 1924 backfield.

During the next months, the AAFC’s plans solidified. The league initially issued franchises for Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. Brooklyn and Miami were later added. A group representing Baltimore was considered for admission, but could not secure a stadium. The league planned to begin play in 1945, but postponed its opening for a year as World War II still raged.

As the eight franchises built their teams, no move was more far-reaching than Cleveland's choice of Paul Brown as its head coach. Brown had won six Ohio state championships in nine years at Massillon High School and the 1942 national championship at Ohio State, and had also coached successfully at the military’s Great Lakes Naval Station. In Cleveland, Brown would emerge as one of the game's greatest innovators.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.