The Columbus Panhandles were a professional American football team based in Columbus, Ohio. The club was founded in 1901 by workers at the Panhandle shops of the Pennsylvania Railroads and they were a part of the Ohio League from 1904 before folding after one season. The Panhandles are credited with playing in the first NFL game against another NFL opponent and they have zero NFL championships, but Joseph Carr, the teams owner from 1907 to 1922, is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his work as NFL president. The earliest existence of the Panhandles was in 1900, the Columbus Press-Post reported Jack Walsh creating the Panhandle railroad team consisting of big hardy railroad men, no other articles in 1900 were written about the Panhandles. A game was scheduled for October 19 of next year, however, in 1901, managed by William Butler of the Ohio Medical University, the Panhandles played two games against the Columbus Barracks, a team consisting of local soldiers. The results were split, the first was a 2–6 loss while the second was a 12–6 win, Butler left the Panhandles for unknown reasons, and the new manager for the 1902 season was Harry Greenwood. Greenwood placed advertisements in every newspaper he could in order to schedule games against local opponents and his ad read The Panhandle Athletic Club has organized a football team and would like to play any college, high school or manufacturing team on Saturday or Sunday. As a result, the Panhandles scheduled four games in 1902, again, the Panhandles got a new manager for the 1903 season, E. E. Griest. Griest needed help with the team, so he hired Ben Chamberlain to coach the team, after an exhibition game against the Ohio State Buckeyes, the Panhandles won their first game of the season, a 38–0 victory over Neil Avenue Athletic Club. This victory gave the team some unexpected press, the Columbus Citizen wrote the first article praising the team, the Panhandles 1903 season ended with a 5–3 record. In 1904, Joseph Carr, who was a writer for the Ohio State Journal and manager of the railroads baseball team the Famous Panhandle White Sox. However the Panhandles didn’t take off and the team played just two games, Carr tried again three years later in 1907. One of the first things Carr did when he became the owner of the Panhandles was to one the railroads policies. Since most of the players were employed by the railroad. Because of this perk, Carr was able to schedule mostly road games, eliminating the expenses of stadium rental, game promotion, and security for the field. However, while the team did play the majority of their games on the road as a traveling team, the Panhandles adopted an amateur sandlot mentality for their playing style. Since the team was composed mainly of workers, the scenario gave the players limited time to practice. The Panhandles did the majority of their preparation during their lunch breaks, workers had a one-hour break during a normal workday, and the players on the team usually took the first 15 minutes to eat lunch and used the remaining 45 minutes to practice football
Joseph Carr directed the Panhandles in 1907 until 1922.
The Columbus Panhandles in 1907
The Columbus Panhandles playing a game during the 1910s at Indianola Park.