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Pete Fierle, Manager - Digital Media/Communications
Pete's familiarity with the game's history is a result of spending two decades surrounded by the world's largest collection of pro football information. His many duties include overseeing the Hall's website as well as the day-to-day operation of the Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center.
A new "For Pete's Sake" blog appears each Thursday.
If you've taken the time to check out my blog, I'm assuming it's safe to say you're a fan of the NFL. This makes me fairly certain you've heard of the Dallas Cowboys and the Kansas City Chiefs. I'm also confident you know the names and stories about certain Hall of Famers named Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Len Dawson, and Derrick Thomas.
I pride For Pete's Sake on each week providing some aspect of the NFL that you may not know. After all, it's my job to educate the public regarding the origin, development and growth of professional football as an important part of American culture.
So today, I introduce you to the Kansas City Cowboys and a couple of Hall of Famers by the name of Joe Guyon (below left) and Steve Owen (below right). Yes, there were Cowboys in the NFL before Dallas had them and Kansas City's first team in the NFL was not the Chiefs. Legends like those listed in the first paragraph made their contributions to the game during the modern era. But, now lesser known names who also have busts in the Hall of Fame helped the sport survive and grow during its early years.
On Jan. 26, 1924 the NFL owners met at the Sherman Hotel in Chicago. Among the orders of business was a motion to add a Kansas City franchise to the league. An initial motion by Chicago Bears owner George Halas to admit the KC franchise was tabled pending the schedule committee report. The following day, the motion was again set forth to the owners to accept the Kansas City bid for a team. This time, the proposal was passed and hence the birth of the Kansas City Blues.
The team won its first game in '24 but then went winless until the season finale. The following season, the franchise renamed itself the Cowboys and hit the road. The Cowboys played all of its 1925 season and all but the final two games of 1926 on the road. In all, the Cowboys played 17 straight away from Kansas City.
Really, from a from a football standpoint, the Kansas City story revolves around two better known players, Owen and Guyon. New York Giants fans know Owen as their all-time winningest coach (his 153 victories are 68 more than the next in line, Bill Parcells).
But, before Owen got coaching, he was one of the NFL's best defensive stars in the 1920s. He started his playing career with Kansas City before moving on to the Cleveland Bulldogs for the latter part of the '25 season and then landing in New York with the Giants, first as a player then a player-coach, and finally the team's head coach.
Meanwhile, Guyon was a terrific player who at times took a backseat to his famous teammate and friend, the legendary Jim Thorpe. Unlike Owen, Guyon's days with Kansas City came toward the end of his Hall of Fame career. He had already made a name for himself with the Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Indians, a two-year stint with the NFL's Oorang Indians (a team comprised totally of American Indians including Thorpe) and the Rock Island Independents before joining Kansas City. A two-sport athlete, Guyon played one last year in 1927 with the Giants and was pivotal in helping the team to its first NFL championship. A baseball injury a year later ended his NFL career.
As we look back at this defunct NFL franchise, I think some of the off-the-field stunts overshadowed the team's performance on the football field. After switching its nickname, the team took to marketing their brand. For instance, reports depict how Owen and Guyon rode horseback down Broadway in New York City when the Cowboys were in town to face the Giants in 1925.
So, while they didn't muster much in the way of football success, you have to give an "A" for effort to Lee Andrews. Not only was Andrews a backup emergency tackle for the Cowboys but served as the team's secretary-treasurer and general manager. In 1926, he had a unique method for promoting his team. Just prior to their arrival in Hartford, Connecticut for a showdown on Halloween Day against the Hartford Blues, he shipped by train a carload of "costumes." Andrews had ten-gallon cowboy hats and ornamental boots sent to Hartford. His team adorned the hats and boots and marched from their team headquarters at a downtown hotel to a nearby Armory where they practiced in the days leading up to the game.
Maybe the publicity stunt helped draw a crowd to the NFL game played at the Velodrome, a roofless cycle track. Despite a hard driving rain that flooded the field with ankle-deep water that washed away the yard lines and saw the football floating above the muddy surface, about 500 curious fans watched as the Cowboys defeated the hometown Blues, 7-2. Not surprisingly, all of the scoring on the day came as the result of fumbles.
After managing just four wins and a tie in the first two seasons of operation, Kansas City went 8-3-0 in 1926. But, unfortunately for the franchise, the NFL reorganized after the '26 season and the Cowboys were one of the many teams cut from the league.
• Indians, Yanks, Dodgers, Kardex, Yellowjackets and more. A list of all-time NFL franchises>>>