The Pythagorean NFL

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Garrett Garlits, Mar 27, 2018.

  1. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2017
    I'm setting aside my ABA timeline to do another which, quite frankly, I'm more excited about.

    This is going to be the Pythagorean history of the NFL. We'll start with the APFA in 1920 and go right up to the present day, throwing in a little AAFC and AFL as we go. Unlike my baseball and basketball timelines, there will be a few fundamental changes in various aspects caused by the Pythagorean setup, which we'll cover as we go along.

    Let's jump right in with the first year of what was then called the American Professional Football Association, 1920. There are no divisions yet, and no set schedule for teams, meaning that certain teams will play more games than others.

    Here we go:

    Decatur Staleys: 13-0 (+3)
    Akron Pros: 11-0 (+3)
    Buffalo All-Americans: 11-0 (+2)
    Rock Island Independents: 10-0 (+4)
    Canton Bulldogs: 12-1 (+5)
    Rochester Jeffersons: 10-1 (+4)
    Chicago Cardinals: 9-1 (+3)
    Dayton Triangles: 8-1 (+3)
    Chicago Tigers: 3-5 (+1)
    Detroit Heralds: 2-6 (0)
    Cleveland Tigers: 2-6 (0)
    Columbus Panhandles: 1-9 (-1)
    Hammond Pros: 0-7 (-2)
    Muncie Flyers: 0-1 (0)

    The biggest change is that the future Chicago Bears take the championship from the real-life champion Pros with their three-game improvement. To be honest, I doubt that these standings could be duplicated in real life, and I think I can state with certainty that we'll NEVER (caps intentional) see four undefeated teams and four more with just one loss in this or any other universe.

    A word about tiebreakers in the Pythagorean universe: Win totals are taken to the tenths decimal place, so the expected win total in tenths will be used as the first tiebreaker. This year, the Pros take second place over the All-Americans 11.0 to 10.9, while the tie for tenth goes to the Heralds over the Tigers, 2.1 to 1.9.

    All win totals are rounded; .5 and higher rounds up, .4 and lower rounds down. All changes in win total reflect the difference in wins only; ties are ignored.

    An early howdy to Buffalo, Detroit, and Cleveland, three cities that we might just hear a bit more from as this timeline progresses.

    Next: A look at the second and final year of the APFA, 1921.

    Last edited: Mar 27, 2018
    Wendell and varyar like this.
  2. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2017
    This is going to be a long post, and I'm not sure if I'll have the strength to do it tomorrow after my therapy session, so I'll do it now.

    Here's our look at 1921:

    Akron Pros: 12-0 (+4)
    Buffalo All-Americans: 12-0 (+3)
    Chicago Staleys: 10-1 (+1)
    Rock Island Independents: 6-1 (+2)
    Evansville Crimson Giants: 4-1 (+1)
    Canton Bulldogs: 8-2 (+3)
    Cleveland Indians: 6-2 (+3)
    Green Bay Packers: 4-2 (+1)
    Rochester Jeffersons: 3-2 (+1)
    Dayton Triangles: 6-3 (+2)
    Chicago Cardinals: 4-4 (+1)
    Washington Senators: 1-2 (0)
    Minneapolis Marines: 2-2 (+1)
    Hammond Pros: 1-4 (0)
    Cincinnati Celts: 0-4 (-1)
    Detroit Tigers: 0-7 (-1)
    Columbus Panhandlers: 0-9 (-1)
    Muncie Flyers: 0-2 (0)
    Louisville Brecks: 0-2 (0)
    New York Breckley Giants: 0-2 (0)
    Tonawanda Kardex: 0-1 (0)

    First of all, I dare anyone with a lick of common sense to actually call this hodgepodge a league.

    Second, what in the name of Jim Thorpe is a Tonawanda Kardex?

    Third, I had trouble placing the teams properly in the standings because of the uneven, to say the least, schedule. If anyone cares enough to take a crack at it, be my guest.

    Fourth, the championship goes to the All-Americans by virtue of the expected wins tiebreaker, 11.9 to 11.7. This means that the Pros are 23-0 over two years with no championships to show for it. Only in the Pythagorean universe! It also means that the real-life champion Staleys have to settle for third.

    Last, welcome to the Green Bay Packers, who figure to be one of the league's best franchises even in this wacky universe.

    Next: The debut of the NFL, as we look at 1922.

    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
    varyar and Nivek like this.
  3. Codae Well-Known Member

    Dec 17, 2007
    Bloomington, Riverlanderland
    From what raw data are you generating these season records?
  4. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2017
    These records can be found at Pro Football Reference.
  5. varyar Who?

    Dec 14, 2007
    I like it! This might be the only thread in history to mention Tonawanda (a somewhat working class suburb of Buffalo). Can’t remember what Kardex means, probably some company of note back in the day.

    ADDED: illumination!
  6. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2017
    Kardex eventually became Sperry-Rand, which sponsored the postgame show on NBC for several years in the late seventies.
  7. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2017
    Now for 1922, the first year of the NFL as we know it:

    Canton Bulldogs: 12-0 (+2)
    Rock Island Independents: 7-0 (+2)
    Chicago Bears: 11-1 (+2)
    Racine Legion: 10-1 (+4)
    Buffalo All-Americans: 9-1 (+4)
    Chicago Cardinals: 9-2 (+1)
    Akron Pros: 8-2 (+5)
    Toledo Maumees: 7-2 (+2)
    Green Bay Packers: 7-3 (+3)
    Dayton Triangles: 5-3 (+1)
    Milwaukee Badgers: 3-6 (+1)
    Oorang Indians: 1-8 (-2)
    Minneapolis Marines: 1-3 (0)
    Columbus Panhandles: 0-8 (0)
    Louisville Brecks: 0-4 (-1)
    Rochester Jeffersons: 0-5 (0)
    Hammond Pros: 0-6 (0)
    Evansville Crimson Giants: 0-3 (0)

    First, I fudged Hammond's record a bit. Pro Football Reference didn't bother to give them an expected win total, so I made their one tie into a loss.

    Second, the Oorang Indians played their lone home game in Marion, Ohio, in the same neighborhood as what is now the Warren G. Harding Presidential Museum.

    Third, the championship goes to the Bulldogs because they played twelve games while the Independents only played seven. I know that standardized schedules were difficult in this era of slower travel, but why didn't someone think of divisions at least?

    Fourth, speaking of divisions, there won't be any until 1941 because that's when WhatIf Sports' NFL simulator kicks in. That should make for some interesting differences between 1933 (the first year of divisions in real life) and 1940.

    Last, the Bulldogs become the first real-life champions to keep their crown in the Pythagorean universe.

    Next: We look at 1923.

    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
    varyar likes this.
  8. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2017
    Now for our look at 1923:

    Canton Bulldogs: 12-0 (+1)
    Columbus Tigers: 10-0 (+5)
    Chicago Bears: 11-1 (+2)
    Chicago Cardinals: 11-1 (+3)
    Green Bay Packers: 9-1 (+2)
    Milwaukee Badgers: 10-2 (+3)
    Buffalo All-Americans: 10-2 (+5)
    Rock Island Independents: 5-3 (+3)
    Cleveland Indians: 4-3 (+1)
    Duluth Kelleys: 4-3 (0)
    Racine Legion: 6-4 (+2)
    Toledo Maroons: 2-6 (-3)
    St. Louis All-Stars: 1-6 (0)
    Akron Pros: 1-6 (0)
    Minneapolis Marines: 2-7 (0)
    Hammond Pros: 0-7 (-1)
    Dayton Triangles: 0-8 (-1)
    Oorang Indians: 0-11 (-1)
    Louisville Brecks: 0-3 (0)
    Rochester Jeffersons: 0-4 (0)

    First, the Bulldogs defend their championship because they played twelve games while the Tigers played only ten. They're the first team to repeat in either applicable universe.

    Second, we have no less than four tiebreakers to clear up:

    A) The Bears take third over their crosstown rivals the Cardinals, 11.4 to 11.1.
    B) The All-Americans win the battle for sixth over the Badgers, 10.4 to 10.1.
    C) The Indians and Kelleys tied for ninth at 4-3. They each had the same expected win total at 3.7. The second Pythagorean tiebreaker, head-to-head, doesn't apply because they didn't play each other. So we go to the third tiebreaker, point differential. The Indians had a +3, while the Kelleys only had a +2, which means the Indians take ninth.

    D) In the battle for thirteenth between the Akron Pros and the All-Stars, the All-Stars squeak out a 0.6 to 0.5 victory.

    Third, professional football has never had a champion with a loss. It's going to be interesting to see how long that stat holds up.

    Next: We look at 1924.

    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
    Nivek likes this.
  9. DTF955Baseballfan 12-time All-Star in some TL

    Oct 19, 2005
    10 miles north of 10 miles south
    The first few years remind me of anAPTop25 from 1983 before the last games and bowls or something,, with several dominant teams.

    Why does it seem there are more wins than losses adding them all up? Of course, with strange records like that, and teams that only played a few games,maybe that's true even if you add the wins and losses up in real life. As you say, it's hard to call this a "league" in any logical way.
  10. Electric Monk Does Your Believing For You

    Jun 16, 2005
    Capital Regional District
    This is all whack and I don’t know enough about sports in the first place to get a handle on things… but whenever I drop in to one of your Pythagorean timelines it is always weirdly fascinating.
  11. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2017
    Believe me, it's just as wild and crazy for me as it is for you guys. I'm just reporting the data for now and waiting for things to calm down, which could take a while. Thanks for sticking with it!

    I just looked it up, and the uneven scheduling will continue through 1935, which is the first year that teams played a set number of games (twelve). I can't figure out why it took so long, but baseball didn't have a set number of games from the first year of an organized league (1871) until sometime in the late 1880s, so there's a precedent for this in other sports.
  12. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2017
    Now for our look at 1924:

    Cleveland Bulldogs: 9-0 (+2)
    Duluth Kelleys: 6-0 (+1)
    Frankford Yellow Jackets: 13-1 (+2)
    Green Bay Packers: 10-1 (+3)
    Chicago Bears: 10-1 (+4)
    Rock Island Independents: 8-1 (+3)
    Racine Legion: 7-3 (+3)
    Chicago Cardinals: 7-3 (+2)
    Columbus Tigers: 5-3 (+1)
    Buffalo Bisons: 5-6 (-1)
    Milwaukee Badgers: 4-9 (-1)
    Akron Pros: 1-7 (-1)
    Kansas City Blues: 1-8 (-1)
    Hammond Pros: 1-4 (-2)
    Kenosha Maroons: 0-5 (0)
    Minneapolis Marines: 0-6 (0)
    Rochester Jeffersons: 0-7 (0)
    Dayton Triangles: 0-8 (-2)

    First, let's break our two ties:

    A) The Packers came out on top in the tie for fourth over their eternal rivals the Bears, 10.1 to 9.8.
    B) In the tie for sixth, the Legion turned back the Cardinals, 7.1 to 6.7.

    The Bulldogs win their third straight championship despite playing just nine games, which gives them at least a 33-game winning streak and a record of 53-3 in their five years of existence. All well and good, but consider the Yellow Jackets, who brought pro football to the Philadelphia area for the first time and compiled the type of record that would signal unquestioned excellence and a probable Super Bowl in later years and instead have to settle for third despite playing just one game fewer than the two teams ahead of them combined.

    The NFL has still never had a champion that has suffered a loss in a season where they won a title.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
  13. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2017
    My last post seems to have frozen, so I'll finish here.

    Forget what I said earlier about the Bulldogs winning three straight championships. The Cleveland version of the franchise was known as the Indians before, and is a totally different franchise than the two-time defending champions of Canton, who were inactive this year but will return in 1925. So far, we've had multiple teams called the Bulldogs, Pros, and Maroons, and that's just off the top of my head. That isn't even taking into account the crazy scheduling and hopelessly mixed-up standings. If I'd tried to create a league off the top of my head that was anything like this, I'd be banned from this board and some kind soul would no doubt call the booby hatch!

    Before anyone asks, the Yellow Jackets aren't today's Eagles. The only three current franchises that are operating at this time are the Bears, Packers, and Cardinals.

    Next: We look at 1925.

    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
    varyar likes this.
  14. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2017
    While I have some extra time, let's move on to 1925:

    Pottsville Maroons: 12-0 (+2)
    Chicago Cardinals: 13-1 (+2)
    Detroit Panthers: 11-1 (+3)
    New York Giants: 10-2 (+2)
    Akron Pros: 5-3 (+1)
    Chicago Bears: 13-4 (+4)
    Green Bay Packers: 9-4 (+1)
    Providence Steam Roller: 7-5 (+1)
    Canton Bulldogs: 2-6 (-2)
    Kansas City Cowboys: 2-6 (0)
    Buffalo Bisons: 1-8 (0)
    Frankford Yellow Jackets: 11-9 (-2)
    Cleveland Bulldogs: 3-11 (-2)
    Duluth Kelleys: 0-3 (0)
    Hammond Pros: 0-5 (-1)
    Milwaukee Badgers: 0-6 (0)
    Rochester Jeffersons: 0-7 (0)
    Dayton Triangles: 0-8 (0)
    Columbus Tigers: 0-9 (0)

    First, Canton edges Kansas City in the tie for ninth, 2.3 to 2.2.

    Second, the small town of Pottstown, Pennsylvania can claim an NFL champion for its own, as the Maroons become the sixth straight undefeated team to win it all. Despite a two-game improvement, the real-life champion Cardinals and their 13-1 mark have to settle for second.

    Third, neither team that could claim to be defending their championship had a good year at all. Canton finished ninth, as I stated earlier, while Cleveland fell all the way to thirteenth, just ahead of the usual gaggle of winless flops and occasional punching bags.

    Fourth, the Bears and Yellow Jackets both exceeded any real-life regular season schedule, which particularly hurt the Jackets to the tune of eight more losses.

    Fifth. the name "Steam Roller" for the Providence club isn't a typo.

    Sixth and last, the New York Football Giants are in the house, finishing a strong fourth as football comes to the Big Apple to stay.

    Next: We look at 1926.

    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
  15. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2017
    Now for our look at 1926:

    Frankford Yellow Jackets: 17-0 (+3)
    Pottsville Maroons: 14-0 (+4)
    Chicago Bears: 15-1 (+3)
    Green Bay Packers: 12-1 (+5)
    New York Giants: 12-1 (+4)
    Detroit Panthers: 10-2 (+6)
    Kansas City Cowboys: 8-3 (0)
    Duluth Eskimos: 10-4 (+4)
    Los Angeles Buccaneers: 6-4 (0)
    Buffalo Rangers: 4-6 (-2)
    Milwaukee Badgers: 2-7 (0)
    Providence Steam Roller: 5-8 (0)
    Chicago Cardinals: 4-8 (-3)
    Hartford Blues: 2-8 (-1)
    Brooklyn Lions: 1-10 (-2)
    Hammond Pros: 0-4 (0)
    Louisville Colonels: 0-4 (0)
    Racine Tornadoes: 0-5 (-1)
    Dayton Triangles: 0-6 (-1)
    Columbus Triangles: 0-7 (-1)
    Akron Indians: 0-8 (-1)
    Canton Bulldogs: 0-13 (0)

    First, let's break our ties:

    A) In the race for fourth, the Giants beat the Packers 12.0 to 11.6.
    B) In the "race" for sixteenth, the Colonels didn't receive an expected win total from Pro Football Reference, so I'm giving the nod to Hammond by default.

    Second, the streak of undefeated NFL champions continues, as the Yellow Jackets improve by three to finish 17-0. The Maroons mount a perfect defense of last year's title, but only schedule fourteen games, which leaves them no chance to catch the boys from Philly.

    Third, I had no idea that pro football reached the West Coast so early. It must have been hell for the teams to get back and forth to Los Angeles, even on express trains.

    Fourth, I'm fairly sure that the Panthers' six-game improvement either ties or sets a record for this thread. (It set a record.)

    Fifth, I've heard of the mighty falling far, but Canton's Bulldogs are ridiculous, going from undefeated league champion in 1923 to winless and dead last just three years later.

    Last, I've decided to keep the divisions after all once the league splits in 1933. I'm sick and tired of keeping track of an endless clump of teams, and it will definitely make my typing easier. In the absence of sims, I'll just substitute division champions for each other in the Championship Game's results. You'll see what I mean once we get to 1933.

    Next: Our look at 1927.

    Last edited: Apr 2, 2018
    varyar, Electric Monk and Nivek like this.
  16. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2017
    Now for our look at 1927:

    New York Giants: 13-0 (+2)
    Green Bay Packers: 9-1 (+2)
    Cleveland Bulldogs: 11-2 (+3)
    Chicago Bears: 10-4 (+1)
    Providence Steam Roller: 8-6 (0)
    Duluth Eskimos: 2-7 (+1)
    Chicago Cardinals: 2-9 (-1)
    Frankford Yellow Jackets: 8-10 (+2)
    New York Yankees: 6-10 (-1)
    Pottsville Maroons: 2-11 (-3)
    Buffalo Bisons: 0-5 (0)
    Dayton Triangles: 0-8 (-1)

    First, we have our eighth undefeated champion in a row, as the G-Men go 13-0 to give New York its first gridiron championship.

    Second, the league is down to a much more manageable twelve-team slate. This cuts the number of winless waifs to two, although there are still only four truly good teams.

    Third, none of the four were undefeated last year; in fact, the Yellow Jackets and Maroons each fall off a cliff. The Jackets tumble to eighth, while the Maroons are the worst team to win a game, finishing a pathetic tenth.

    Fourth and last, there are no ties to break for the first time in Pythagorean NFL history.

    Next, our look at 1928.

    Last edited: Apr 2, 2018
    varyar likes this.
  17. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2017
    I can't seem to make the change in my original post, so let me correct myself. This is the first time where there were no ties in five years.
  18. varyar Who?

    Dec 14, 2007
    I remain fascinated and rooting for the Buffalo Whatever They Are This Year.
    Landmass Wave likes this.
  19. Garrett Garlits Well-Known Member

    Mar 3, 2017
    Thanks, Varyar, and enjoy your championship. Hopefully the Pythagorean universe will be kinder to the Bills than this one has been.
    varyar likes this.
  20. Zheng He Well-Known Member

    Aug 3, 2013
    I'm just glad to see a football team from Cleveland doing well...