The 1936 AFL season is the first season of the second American Football League, the formation of which was announced by Harry March, former personnel director of the NFL's New York Giants, on December 15, 1935. Fifteen cities bid for charter franchises; on April 11, 1936, franchises were awarded to eight cities: Boston, Cleveland, Jersey City, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Providence, and Syracuse.[1] By mid-summer, Jersey City, Philadelphia, and Providence withdrew; soon afterwards, Rochester was given a franchise, only to have it relocated to Brooklyn, despite the lack of availability of a home stadium at the time.[1]

The league began its existence by raiding NFL rosters for its players,[2] with a new New York Yankees team signing members of the New York Giants, the Cleveland Rams taking Chicago Bears star Damon Wetzel as their coach, and the Pittsburgh Americans snaring members of the crosstown Pirates. On the other hand, eventual AFL champions Boston Shamrocks pretty much ignored the roster of the crosstown Boston Redskins, while the Brooklyn Tigers and Syracuse Braves opted for "home grown" talent.[2]

The race to the 1936 AFL championship quickly narrowed down to three teams (Boston, Cleveland, and New York) as the Syracuse team was moved to Rochester after a deafening lack of fan support while it lost almost every game. The former Syracuse Braves became the Rochester Braves in early October 1936 — and folded after their game on November 1. Two weeks later, the Brooklyn Tigers moved to Rochester and became the Rochester Tigers.[3] The two Rochester teams finished in the bottom of the league standings.

In contrast to the following year, the majority of the AFL had winning records in 1936 (the two Rochester teams had one win combined). The Pittsburgh Americans finished with a 3-2-1 record despite averaging only 2500 fans in the Forbes Field stands; the Boston Shamrocks (8-3-0) won the title by defeating both the Cleveland Rams (5-2-2) and the New York Yankees (5-3-2) in the season's final weeks.

Final standings

Team W L T Pct. PF PA Coach
Boston Shamrocks 8 3 0 .727 133 97 George Kenneally
Cleveland Rams 5 2 2 .714 123 77 Damon Wetzel
New York Yankees 5 3 2 .625 75 74 Jack McBride
Pittsburgh Americans 3 2 1 .600 78 65 Rudy Comstock
Syracuse/Rochester Braves 1 6 0 .147 41 113 Don Irwin, Red Badgro
Brooklyn/Rochester Tigers 0 6 1 .000 58 82 Mike Palm

See also


  1. ^ a b Bob Carroll, Michael Gershman, David Neft, and John Thorn, Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (HarperCollins 1999) ISBN 0-06-039232-0
  2. ^ a b George Gipe, The Great American Sports Book (Doubleday 1978) ISBN 0-385-13091-0
  3. ^ History of Football in Western New York Archived September 19, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Enciclopedia del football italiano - 1936 AFL season" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 22, 2011. Retrieved November 10, 2008.
  5. ^ Braves Lose Again, May Move to Rochester or Providence for Games - Oswego Palladium-Times, October 19, 1936