The city of Pottsville, Pennsylvania is the 2004 winner of the Daniel F. Reeves Pioneer Award which is presented by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and recognizes individuals, organizations, and now for the first time a community, whose innovative and/or pioneering actions contributed to the success of the sport of professional football.
1925 Pottsville Maroons
The Pottsville Maroons began as a powerful independent pro football team and quickly became the pride of its community. In 1925 the team was granted membership in the National Football League. Almost immediately the team established itself as one of the best in the young league.
However, before their first league season was completed, Pottsville, coming off a much publicized win over the “big city” Chicago Cardinals, played an exhibition game against a non-NFL team in Philadelphia’s Shibe Park. The game was played in the protected home territory of the NFL’s Frankford Yellowjackets, a serious violation of one of the most important rules of the day.
NFL President Joe Carr, in advance of the game warned the Maroons management that to play in Frankford’s territory, would cost them their league membership. Disregarding the warning the Maroons played and defeated an all-star team of former Notre Dame players. Carr immediately suspended the team. Unable to complete their regular-season schedule the 10-2 Maroons were disqualified from league championship consideration. The Cardinals, who completed the season with an 11-2-1 record, were awarded the title. The Maroons were reinstated in the NFL in 1926 and played three more seasons before folding in 1928.
Pottsville loyalists have long contended that the 1925 title should have been theirs. On three different occasions (1963, 1967, and 2003) the NFL owners have considered Pottsville’s case but each time voted against changing the 1925 outcome. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles in each instance were the only teams to vote in favor of the Maroons.
In recognition of Pottsville’s pioneering support of the NFL and the community’s undying spirit and pride, the NFL owners and the Pro Football Hall of Fame unanimously agreed to proclaim the City of Pottsville, the winner of the 2004 Daniel F. Reeves Pioneer Award.
Past Winners of the Daniel F. Reeves Pioneer Award
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1972 - Fred Gehrke
1975 - Arch Ward
1986 - John Facenda
1992 - David Boss
2001 - George Toma