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On September 17, 1920 , the Rochester Jeffersons became an original member of the NFL, Leo Lyons a co founder. Jim Thorpe had kept in contact after their 1917 meeting, and was keeping Leo apprised of happenings within their league. When the Ohio League was ready to form a new pro league, Thorpe called Leo to come to Canton and be part of it. Originally called the AFPA, the NFL recognizes that first meeting to be the NFL's birthdate.  Leo would resort to bootlegging during this time when Prohibition was alive and well, to be able to compete with the stronger teams. Leo recruited some of the country's best college talent, but found it difficult to keep them. The wealthier teams were able to lure them away, much to Leo's frustration. Here he was, this close to being another Green Bay Packers, only his city did not support him. They cried for local talent, wanting to see their high school star quarterback play instead of college great Benny Lee Boyton. The Jeffersons were still doing well against New York teams but could not stay competitive against the best of the Ohio League. They played the Chicago Bears to 16-13 and  7-0  games but were walloped for a while when his team became depleted. These teams were made up of men who worked full time jobs. In order for Leo to play teams in Illinois and Ohio, Leo would have to make sure his players could take off from work, pay them out of his pocket to play, pay for the train trip and food and hotel stay for the team, all financed by one Leo Lyons who worked overnight at the phone company. They compiled a 6-3-2 record in 1920. In 1921, they went 4-4-1 with a 41-0 win over Buffalo, a 27-13 victory over the Columbus Panhandles and a 16-13 loss to the Chicago Staleys. 1922, they were 3-5-1 with a 7-0 loss to the Chicago Bears and a 13-13 tie with the Akron Pro's. But with Rochester hometown fans not supporting a team with "outsiders", money was an issue despite doing things like bootlegging. Rochester football fans would rather watch high school football than pro football, local kids over college talent from around the country. Leo Lyons was still the only financier of the team, nearly mortgaging his home to keep the team afloat. But Leo didn't give up. He did what he could, trying everything with his money and time. He would steal players from Syracuse University and give them aliases to play on the Jeffs. He would wire them money to take the train and play on Sunday. It always was a money issue. By 1925, they became a road team. At the end of 1925, Leo made a last ditch effort and tried to sign the biggest name in football, Red Grange. But he turned it down and instead signed with the Chicago Bears. That would end the existence of the team.

Click on buttons for team game summaries and rosters.All data compiled by Ken Crippen and John Steffenhagen.  .PDF files courtesy of Ken Crippen.

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