Contributor / Contributor

Joe Carr

Class of 1963



"Baseball has become successful because of the excellent way in which it is organized and I can honestly say that I believe the National Football League is just as strongly entrenched as any lease in baseball. The fly-by-night birds are now on the outside looking in, and we intend to keep them there.”

Enshrinement Speech

Career Highlights

No one better understood the necessity of bringing some order to early-day professional football than Joe Carr, a former Columbus, Ohio newspaperman and manager of pro football’s Columbus Panhandles. Carr's persistence finally paid off when, in 1920, the American Professional Football Association (APFA) was organized in Canton, Ohio. Jim Thorpe, the best-known name of pro football in 1920, was named the APFA's first president. But a year later Carr replaced him in the leadership role.

The next year, in 1922, the league changed its name to the National Football League. Carr strongly felt the public had the inherent right to know the league was being run honestly and capably. Immediately, he established a standard player contract modeled on the one used in baseball. He cracked down on the hiring of collegians under assumed names. When the Green Bay Packers, a new team in 1921, ignored Carr's edict, he forfeited the franchise and then renewed it under new ownership a few months later.

In 1925, Red Grange stunned the football world by joining the Chicago Bears just 10 days after his final game with the University of Illinois. Sensing that resentment in college circles would persist if such practices continued, Carr ruled, in the future, no NFL team could sign a college player until his eligibility was completed. Violators were promised a stiff fine or loss of franchise or both. Carr recognized that, to survive, the NFL needed teams in large cities. His first target was New York City and, through Joe's efforts, the New York Giants were born in 1925. The 70,000 crowd that turned out at the Polo Grounds later that year to see the Red Grange-led Bears proved big-city fans would support pro football.

A dedicated, no-nonsense administrator, Carr also served in executive positions in minor-league baseball and professional basketball during his tenure as NFL president.

Full Name: Joseph Francis Carr

Birthdate: October 23, 1879

Birthplace: Columbus, Ohio

Died: May 20, 1939

High School: None

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: September 7, 1963 (represented by Dan Tehan)

Presenter: Earl Schreiber, President, Pro Football Hall of Fame

Other Members of Class of 1963: Sammy Baugh, Bert Bell, Earl "Dutch" Clark, Harold "Red" Grange, George Halas, Mel Hein, Wilbur "Pete" Henry, Cal Hubbard, Don Hutson, Earl "Curly" Lambeau, Tim Mara, George Preston Marshall, John "Blood" McNally, Bronko Nagurski, Ernie Nevers, Jim Thorpe

Joe Carr Enshrinement Speech 1963

Presenter: Earl Schreiber

Joe Carr was the engineer of organized pro football. The little railroader put it on the right track from it's ride from rags to riches. He started as manager of the Columbus Panhandles, a railroad yard team whose lineup had almost nobody but Nessers. Turning to newspaper work he became a force in organized baseball, he was sure pro football could be developed along the same lines. His urging led to formation of the league; in its second year he took over as president. His faith had blinkers but not once did his eyes leave the rails which gleamed ahead towards his major league goal. Not once, till death shattered them. Too bad you say he's not here to proudly survey results of his devotion. Yes, but actually, he's already seen it. Like he kept trying to tell so many of these people and so many others, Joe Carr saw it all down the tracks through the mist a long time ago. Receiving for Joe Carr, Sheriff of Cincinnati, Dan Tehan, football official in this league for thirty-four years and the man who will blow the whistle tomorrow. Dan Tehan.

Dan Tehan on behalf of Joe Carr

Honored guests, ladies and gentlemen, it's a distinct honor for the committee to select me to receive the replica of Joe Carr for the National Football Hall of Fame. It was Joe Carr who gave me the opportunity to be a small part of the greatest football league in the world. Thank you.