Potvin Newsly

Monday, February 25, 2008

Belated Sunday Spotlight: Frankford Yellow Jackets

[This post originally part of the Potvin Spotlight series.]

The Frankford Yellow Jackets were a professional football team that played in a Philadelphia neighborhood in the NFL from 1924-1931, though their origins stretched back to 1899.

In the Yellow Jackets’ first year, the team, coached by no-good Punk Berryman, finished in third place after an 11-2-1 campaign. Their next year, 1925, was unspectacular, but it did feature some remarkable items. It was legendary Guy “Champ” Chamberlin’s first year with the team. Also, the team played a part in the 1925 NFL Championship controversy. The Chicago Cardinals and the Pottsville Maroons were having a tiff as to which team was better. As it stood, the Maroons had a better record after defeating the Notre Dame All-Stars 9-7. But the Yellow Jackets argued that the Maroons had violated a territorial agreement wherein the Maroons would stay the fuck out of eastern Pennsylvania. The league agreed and ordered the immediate execution of the 1925 Pottsville Maroons, and then awarded the league championship to the Cardinals.

The next year, 1926, would be Frankford’s greatest. They finished 14-1-2-0-1, and earned the league championship. The season featured a thrilling 7-6 win over the Chicago Bears. The victory was surprising as Frankford had never beaten the Bears in the past and was forced to take the field without stars Daddy “Papa” Potts and Swede “Mama” Youngstrum. Chicago scored first, but Guy Chamberlin, always the opportunist, boarded up the goal posts the day before, and the Bears extra point attempted failed, giving them only a 6-0 advantage. Late in the fourth quarter, the Yellow Jackets rallied after a 50 yard reverse. Quarterback “Two-bits” Homan caught a touchdown pass on (what must have been) a trick play on 4th & 3. Cool. Chamberlin, who had wittingly ordered that the plywood be taken down off the goal posts at half time, sent his team on for the extra point, giving them the margin of victory.

Still, the ’26 championship could not be sewed up, as the Yellow Jackets would have to face the Pottsville Maroons. A loss to the Maroons would hand the championship to the Bears. A win or a tie would ensure the the title would come to Philadelphia. With the Maroons having been ‘retired’ the previous year, many predicted an easy victory for Frankford. It was not so. As no players took the field for Pottsville, the clock ran out in both halves without Frankford getting possession even once. However, the Maroons failed to gain a single yard against the stiff Yellow Jacket defense, and the game ended in a scoreless tie, wrapping up the championship for Frankford, and giving Pottsville a record of 0-0-14 in what was deemed one of the “most balanced, completive seasons ever played by a single team” by Sports Illustrated.

The rest of their history is pretty boring. They ended up folding due to the pressure of the Great Depression. I’ll leave you with a picture of the NFL Champs.

Below: The 1926 Frankford Yellow Jackets Footballin’ Club
Frankford Yellow Jackets de 1926
Winners of Pseuperbowl MCMXXVI


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