Professional football has been played for well over a century.
However, the NFL as we know it didn’t come into existence until 1920.
That’s when the American Professional Football Conference was formed.
The APFC changed its name to the National Football League two years later.
One of the people responsible for founding the league was Carl Storck.
One of my favorite kinds of staged photos from the early #NFL — a bunch of owners gathered around the commissioner, pointing at something. From L to R: the #Bears' George Halas, the #Lions' Fred Mandel, commish Carl Storck, the #Redskins' George Preston Marshall & GM Jack Espey. pic.twitter.com/MJoUHUySRS
— Dan Daly (@dandalyonsports) March 6, 2019
Storck was a former football player in college and managed one of the earliest NFL teams.
He would continue to guide the young league for two decades, including two years as president of the NFL.
This is the story of Carl Storck.
Playing and Managing Career
Storck began his football career in Dayton, Ohio.
After playing the sport in high school, he matriculated to St. Mary’s College, which later became the University of Dayton.
While playing for St. Mary’s, Storck became a local hero for his exploits on the field.
Once he graduated from college, Storck took a job as a foreman in the Inspection and Packing Department at the National Cash Register Company.
He also played for a local semi-pro football team that was founded by graduates of St. Mary’s.
Storck’s semi-pro team was briefly called the Dayton Gym Cadets in 1915 and then changed their name to the Dayton Triangles the following year.
During this week's episode about the #SuperbOwl we went back to the origins of professional football in America and briefly talked about foundation team the Dayton Triangles, in my excitement I forgot to mention their hall of famer player and coach Greasy Neale, what a name! pic.twitter.com/pnyRz7xSjg
— Do Go On (@DoGoOnPod) February 8, 2022
The Triangles were so named because of the three factories owned by local businessmen and team sponsors Edward Deeds and Charles Kettering.
Both men donated land for the team to play on beginning in 1917 that was called Triangle Park.
Storck was also a sponsor for the team and helped find players from the factories to field a full roster.
He would become the team’s unpaid team manager.
Triangles become Ohio League Champions
In 1916, the Triangles were a difficult team to beat, finishing the season 9-1.
On their new home field in 1917, the team went 6-0-2 on the strength of 188 total points scored while only giving up 13.
While the United States was dealing with the twin threats of World War I and the Spanish Flu in 1918, Dayton was still able to field a competitive team.
Since many of the players were working factory jobs that were deemed essential for the war effort, most of the squad remained intact.
The Triangles were already a good team, but with the rosters of many of their opponents depleted due to military service, Dayton went 8-0 and won the Ohio League Championship.
Four of their wins in ‘18 included victories over four future NFL franchises.
Everyone hating on the Washington Football Team for its name, but let's not forget the Dayton Triangles from the 1920s pic.twitter.com/O2Fto0iteN
— The Football Diary (@TheFBDiary) July 24, 2020
In 1919, Dayton had a down year (for them) and finished 4-2-1.
The NFL is Founded
With attendance and popularity growing for many of the area’s professional franchises, a number of team owners thought it was time to establish a new identity.
On August 20, 1920, representatives from five teams gathered for a meeting at Ralph Hay’s Hupmobile auto dealership in Canton, Ohio.
In attendance that day was Storck, representing Dayton, as well as the Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, and Cleveland Indians.
Primarily established at the meeting was the need to, “raise the standard of professional football in every way possible, to eliminate bidding for players between rival clubs and to secure cooperation in the formation of schedules.”
A month later, another meeting was held and this time representatives from several more teams attended.
99 years ago today, 11 pro football clubs met in Canton, Ohio and formed the American Professional Football Association, which was renamed the NFL.
Ohio Teams-Akron Professionals, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Indians, Dayton Triangles, Racine Cardinals, Massillon Tigers pic.twitter.com/ZBPBdNOHI7
— Jon Husted (@JonHusted) September 17, 2019
The team representatives established a new name, the American Professional Football Association (APFA), and other particulars such as a $25 franchise fee, setting new league by-laws, and electing Jim Thorpe as acting president.
Dayton Struggles while Storck Represents two Organizations
On October 3, 1920, the Triangles played the Columbus Panhandles in what is considered the first official APFA game.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Dayton Triangles defeating the Columbus Panhandles in the very first @NFL game. Thank you @MayorGinther for joining @daytonhistory and football legend Keith Byers in celebrating at the site of the first game! pic.twitter.com/6n5BtJeRZQ
— Nan Whaley (@nanwhaley) October 3, 2020
The contest was played during the first week of league play and the Triangles blanked Columbus 14-0.
Meanwhile, Storck was a busy man.
He continued acting as manager and representative for Dayton while also working full-time as an assistant manager for Delco Electronics Corporation.
In 1920 and 1921, the Triangles finished 5-2-2 and 4-4-1 respectively.
Beginning with the 1921 season, Storck would work as the secretary-treasurer of the league.
On June 24, 1922, the APFA members voted to change their organization’s name to the National Football League.
That same season, the Triangles began to slip competitively.
Many of the teams in the NFL were able to sign top college players from around the country.
Walter “sneeze” Achiu (8/3/1902-3/21/1989) was a football player for the Dayton triangles from 1927-1928. Of Asian American descent, he was the first person of East Asian decent to ever play NFL. Football, baseball track at Dayton, inducted in Dayton HOF 1974 pic.twitter.com/lmuypw8uHK
— anthony audia (@anthonyaudia4) October 4, 2020
However, Dayton chose to primarily sign local talent.
That talent only went so far and the competitive balance changed drastically for the Triangles.
As they piled up losses, Dayton lost money and became a traveling team by the mid 1920s.
By the later part of the decade, the Triangles had become a laughingstock.
Between 1923-1929, the team won only five of their 51 league contests.
It became apparent that Dayton was no longer able to keep up with the rest of the franchises in the burgeoning NFL.
On July 12, 1930, the team was bought by a Brooklyn, New York syndicate headed by John Dwyer.
Dwyer moved the team to Brooklyn and re-named them the Dodgers.
Storck is Briefly President of the NFL
Storck remained as the secretary-treasurer of the league as the NFL gained in popularity and slowly escaped from the shadow of professional baseball.
In May of 1939, longtime league president Joe Carr (who had represented Columbus at the inaugural league meeting) passed away.
Storck was named as Carr’s successor days later.
The NFL created the position of commissioner in 1941 and named Notre Dame’s Elmer Layden as their first commissioner.
Storck felt blindsided given his work for the league for over two decades (mostly without pay).
On this date in 1941, NFL president Carl Storck resigned after the owners created a commissioner position above his. pic.twitter.com/fGAhi9qzzc
— Quirky Research (@QuirkyResearch) April 4, 2018
He would resign from his post on April 5, 1941, citing, “the best interests of the game.”
At the time, Storck was also experiencing severe health problems caused by Neurasthenia, a condition described as exhaustion of the central nervous system.
In fact, when he resigned from the NFL, Storck had been bedridden for several weeks and was partially paralyzed on the right side of his body.
Layden would remain the NFL commissioner until 1946 and would be replaced by Bert Bell.
Death and Legacy
Storck retired from his managing position at Delco in 1942 due to his health issue.
Only eight years later, on March 13, 1950, he would pass away in a nursing home in Dayton. He was only 57 years old.
Unfortunately, Storck has remained largely forgotten to time.
However, the Pro Football Hall of Fame recognizes him as one of the NFL’s presidents/commissioners since its inception.
Storck’s leadership and passion for the game coincided with the formation of a league that has become a multi-billion dollar behemoth.
Along with his co-founders, Storck’s foresight and vision shaped the NFL into what it is today.