By Chris Willis, NFL Films
In 1919 the Rock Island Independents fielded one of the best pro football teams in the country. That season they finished with a 9-1-1 record.
1919 Rock Island Independents Results
Sept. 28th vs Rockford A.C., Won, 20-0 (2,000)
Oct. 5th vs Chicago Cornell-Hamburgs, Won, 21-0 (2,000)
Oct. 12th vs Hammond All-Stars, Lost, 7-12 (7,000)
Oct. 19th vs Davenport A.C., Won, 33-0 (6,000)
Oct. 26th vs Cincinnati Celts, Won, 33-0 (3,000)
Nov. 2nd vs Pine Village A.C., Tie, 0-0 (4,000)
Nov. 9th vs Moline Fans Association, Won, 57-0 (2,000)
Nov. 16th vs Hammond Clabbys, Won, 55-0 (1,300)
Nov. 23rd vs Columbus Panhandles, Won, 40-0 (4,500)
Nov. 27th vs Davenport A.C., Won 26-0 (1,500)
Nov. 30th vs Akron Indians, Won, 17-0 (1,700)
Owner and team manager Walter Flanigan, a former Rock Island player, built a very competitive team. Led by quarterback and coach Reuben “Rube” Ursella, end Oke Smith and halfback Fred Chicken the Independents played and beat some of the better pro teams in 1919. They outscored their opponents 309-12- with TEN shutouts. Only a 12-7 loss to the Hammond All-Stars (who had Paddy Driscoll and George Halas) marred a nearly perfect season. The 12 points was the only points they surrender.
They also played their entire schedule at home at Douglas Park averaging over 3,100 fans per game. The Hammond game attracted a season high of 7,000 fans. Because of their home schedule advertising became a key component for Flanigan to get fans out to the game. One of his biggest tools for promoting his team was taking newspaper ads out. Flanigan took out ads in the Rock Island Argus. Tickets were usually $1.00 for "Gents" and fifty cents for "Ladies."
Ad # 1
Oct. 12, 1919
vs Hammond All-Stars, Douglas Park (7,000)
RII Lost 12-7
Ad # 2
Oct. 19, 1919
vs Davenport A.C., Douglas Park (6,000)
RII Won 33-0