NFL Could Buck Longtime Tradition, Boot Patriots from 2019 Season Opener
By Dave Kovaleski
It’s been a tradition in the NFL in recent years for the team that won the previous season’s Super Bowl to host the league’s opening game the next season.
But this year the league reportedly might buck that tradition and not have the first game played at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, home of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
According to NFL reporter Ed Werder, the league is considering booting the Patriots from the opening night game, but not for some anti-Pats conspiracy.
Werder reported the opening game could be the Chicago Bears against the Green Bay Packers in honor of the NFL’s 100th anniversary.
“It is possible, maybe even more likely than not, that neither the #Patriots nor #Rams will be featured in first game of 2019 season.
With #NFL celebrating its 100th anniversary, the possibility of a #Packers vs #Bears opener is a consideration,” Werner tweeted Sunday.
Jeff Duncan, a reporter with the New Orleans Times-Picayune, tweeted something similar Sunday.
A Packers-Bears matchup would be a nod to the game’s history as they are two of the oldest franchises in the league.
The precursor to the NFL, the American Professional Football Association, was formed in 1920. The very first organizational meeting of this new league was held in the showroom of a car dealership in Canton, Ohio, according to NFL.com. Olympian Jim Thorpe was named league president.
The teams in the league at the time included the Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Indians, Dayton Triangles, Hammond Pros, Muncie Flyers, Rochester Jeffersons, Rock Island Independents, Decatur Staleys, Racine Cardinals, Buffalo All-Americans, Chicago Tigers, Columbus Panhandles, St. Paul Ideals and Detroit Heralds.
On Sept. 26, 1920, the first APFA game was held at Rock Island, Illinois, where the Independents beat the Ideals 48-0. Akron won the first championship that year.
The Green Bay Packers were not invited to play in that inaugural season, even though the team was formed in 1919 by Earl “Curly” Lambeau. But in 1921, year two of the AFPA, the Packers joined the league.
That same year, the Decatur Staleys, run by player-coach George Halas, moved to Chicago. The Chicago Staleys won the championship that year.
In 1922, the AFPA was renamed the National Football League and the Chicago Staleys became the Chicago Bears. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The NFL has not officially announced anything yet as far as who will play in next season’s opening game.