The National Football League (NFL) is at the pinnacle of the professional sports. Most people have their favorite teams and they follow them each Fall – sharing in their triumphs and lamenting in their losses. To some, there are more losses than successes (I’m from Cleveland), but at least they still have a team. The teams on this list aren’t even around anymore. You probably never even heard of some of these teams, but I am pretty sure you know their modern counterparts. Each of these teams were in the NFL at one point or another, but you won’t hear from them any longer.
Houston Oilers (1960-1996)
The Houston Oilers began in 1960 as a charter member of the American Football League. They were owned by Bud Adams, a Houston oilman, who had made several previous unsuccessful bids for an NFL expansion team in Houston. The Oilers appeared in the first three AFL championships. They played in the Astrodome, but threatened to leave for Jacksonville, Florida in 1987 if their field wasn’t updated. At the time the Astrodome only seated about 50,000 fans, the smallest capacity in the NFL. Not willing to lose the Oilers, the city responded with $67 million in improvements to the Astrodome that included new Astroturf, 10,000 additional seats and 65 luxury boxes. In 1995, they petitioned, once again for a new stadium. This time, the demands were not made, so the Houston Oilers moved to Nashville and changed the name to the Tennessee Titans. Finding this out, the city of Houston made a last ditch effort to keep their team, but it was too late.
Dallas Texans (1952)
Never heard of the Dallas Texans? They only played in the NFL for the 1952 season. They ended the season with a 1-11 record. The team was a comedy of errors. Within 9 years, they went from being the Boston Yanks (1944-48) to the New York Bulldogs (1949) to the New York Yanks (1950-51) and then FINALLY the Dallas Texans. They weren’t done, though! In the 1952 season, they were only headquartered in Dallas for 7 games! Then they moved to Hershey, Pennsylvania for the remaining 5 games. The NFL ended it after that. There only win was to come from the Chicago Bears and their last two “home” games were played in Akron, Ohio’s Rubber Bowl. Sadly, they never filled up their stadium with more than 17,500 fans, even though it had a capacity of 75,000. The NFL wouldn’t stand for that.
Cleveland Rams (1936-1945)
As if Cleveland doesn’t have enough woes with its sport teams, they had this embarrassment to deal with, too. In the 1936 season, the Rams played in the American Football League, but moved to the NFL the next year. The Cleveland Rams were founded by attorney Homer Marshman in 1936. Their name, the Rams, comes from the nickname of Fordham University. The team did not play in 1943 due to a shortage of players caused by World War II. They won one NFL championship in their last season (1945). Shortly after the Rams franchise won their first NFL Championship, the team received approval from the league to move to Los Angeles. In 1995, the Rams franchise was moved again, this time to St Louis.
Frankford Yellow Jackets (1899-1931)
The Frankford Yellow Jackets were a professional American football team that were part of the National Football League from 1924 to 1931. They started off in 1899 as the Frankford Athletic Association. The team played its home games from 1923 in Frankford Stadium (also called Yellow Jacket Field) in Frankford, a section in the northeastern part of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Frankford Athletic Association was a community-based non-profit organization of local residents and businesses that donated all of their profits to charity. In the early 1920s the Frankford Athletic Association’s Yellow Jackets gained the reputation as being one of the best independent football teams in the nation. In 1922, Frankford absorbed the Philadelphia City Champion the Union Quakers of Philadelphia. That year Frankford captured the unofficial championship of Philadelphia. During the 1922 and 1923 seasons the Yellow Jackets comprised a 6-2-1 record against teams from the National Football League. This led to the Frankford Athletic Association being granted an NFL franchise in 1924. Sadly, the team went down the drain due to the Great Depression. While you may not have heard of the Yellow Jackets. You certainly know the name of the team that they became – the Philadelphia Eagles.
St. Louis Gunners (1931-1940)
The St. Louis Gunners, were an independent professional football team based in St. Louis, Missouri, who played the last three games of the 1934 National Football League season, replacing the Cincinnati Reds on the league schedule after the Reds’ league membership was suspended. The team was headquartered at the St. Louis National Guard Armory, which accounts for its nickname the ‘Gunners’. They officially became a part of the NFL late in the 1934 season, defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates (now known as the Steelers). They were only to play 8 games in the NFL. Soon after, they decided to move to the American Football League, but were denied access and they returned to independent status. Their entire NFL record is 3-4-1.