Did You Know?: The NFL Was Started In A Car Dealership

As the National Football League (NFL) gears up for its 100th season, we here at Cinci Auto News take a look back at how it all began.

The Odd Fellows Building in Canton, OH that housed Ralph Hay’s car dealership showroom.

Prior to September of 1920, professional football consisted of a number of localized leagues, based around states or small regions, that mostly competed within their immediate areas. That all changed after a meeting at Ralph Hay’s Hupmobile car dealership in Canton, Ohio on September 17, 1920. 15 men, including Hay who owned the Canton Bulldogs football team, representing 11 football franchises of the time gathered at Hay’s dealership to discuss forming the national league. Initially, they were going to meet in Hay’s office but it couldn’t accommodate the number of people that attended so they were forced to move to the showroom.

The result of that meeting was the formation of the American Professional Football Conference (later named the American Professional Football Association and then finally the National Football League as we know it today).

If you visit the National Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, you might be lucky enough to get a look at the the actual minutes typed up from that fateful meeting which are housed in the Hall of Fame’s collection of key documents and artifacts.

Only four of the founding teams went on to complete that first season with the Akron Pros winning the first championship title. The next year, the league expanded to 22 teams but football wouldn’t become a major professional sport until around the end of World War II as they brought in new rules, regulations, and playing styles.

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