Season-long initiatives to celebrate players, teams, communities and fans Get READY for a ‘Fantennial’ near you
A journey of 100 seasons began with a single step.
For the National Football League, that step was made by RALPH HAY, owner of the Canton Bulldogs. Hay’s simple initiative was to invite owners of three other Ohio teams – the Dayton Triangles, Cleveland Indians and Akron Pros – to a meeting at his Canton auto showroom to discuss forming a league. Three issues prompted the meeting: Dramatically rising salaries, players jumping from one team to another following the highest offers, and teams illegally using players still in college. That initial meeting conceived the foundation of the league, originally called the American Professional Football Association, on August 20, 1920.
A second step was to schedule another meeting. This time, Hay flexed his vision, writing to invite several other pro teams. Perhaps the most significant letter was to future Pro Football Hall of Famer GEORGE HALAS, the player-coach of the Decatur Staleys and eventual Chicago Bears. At that second meeting in Hay’s showroom, held on September 17, 1920, Halas sat on the running board of a brand-new Hupmobile and, for the first of many important instances, modeled a league-above-team perspective that critically shaped the genesis and longevity of the new organization.
Countless steps, strides and leaps later, the NFL embarks on its 100th season when the Atlanta Falcons meet the Denver Broncos in Canton’s Tom Benson Stadium for this year’s Hall of Fame Game. The 100th regular season will kick off on Thursday, September 5, when the Chicago Bears host the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. Perhaps fittingly, Chicago is the only team that will mark its 100th season in 2019.
“Our goal is to make this the most meaningful and memorable season in league history,” said Executive Vice President, Club Business & League Events PETER O’REILLY. “We will do that by paying tribute to our great players – past and present – our coaches, our teams and our fans, while also looking ahead to the next century of the NFL. Every week new content and initiatives will roll out that we are excited to share with everyone who loves this game.”
Central to those plans are “Fantennials.” What’s a Fantennial, you ask? A Fantennial is a mindset designed to keep the fan front and center for all initiatives this season.