By Jeffrey Miller
Wes Bradshaw, who played for the Rock Island Independents and Buffalo Rangers in the 1920s, is, to me anyway, a bit of an anomaly. Let me explain …Bradshaw was a star halfback during his college days at Baylor University, where he was the first player in Southwest Conference history to score 100 points in a single season (119 points in 1922). Two years later, the man known as "Rabbit" played in seven games at halfback for the Independents, Rock Island, Illinois’ entry in the early days of the National Football League. After sitting out the 1925 season, he was lured back to pro ball in 1926 to play for the Independents in the newly-formed American Football League. Bradshaw suffered a knee injury in the early part of the season and seemed done for the year. But Jim Kendrick, coach of the Buffalo Rangers, a team composed entirely of players from the Texas-Oklahoma region of the United States, was able to lure Bradshaw out of hibernation. Rabbit was not available at first while recovering from his injury. However, when the Rangers faced the Kansas City Cowboys in a mudbath at Bison Stadium in Buffalo on November 21, he was coaxed into action.
Midway through the second quarter, the score was knotted at 0-0, and the Rangers found themselves in field goal range. Kendrick sent starting left guard Cop Weathers to the sideline and called Bradshaw onto the field to attempt the kick. But Bradshaw’s kick fell short, and he returned to the bench, where he remained not only for the remainder of this game but for the remainder of the year. This would be his one and only play as a member of the Buffalo Rangers.So here is my issue: every reference book lists Bradshaw as a back for the Rangers in 1926, but he never played a back position! Yes, he was known as a back, but in this game, he replaced a guard, and the only position he actually played was kicker.
Seems to me it makes more sense that Bradshaw should be the first NFL player listed simply as a kicker, even if it’s just for the 1926 season. Who do I have to talk to?