Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Ohio Moments

All-Indian NFL squad created halftime show

On Oct. 8, 1922, the Oorang Indians - the most colorful team in NFL history - beat the Columbus Panhandles 20-6 at Lincoln Park in Marion, Ohio. It was the first of only four wins that the Indians would record in their two years in the National Football League.

Owned by Walter Lingo, the team consisted solely of Native Americans. Jim Thorpe, who was the best football player of his era and later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, was player/coach.

Lingo, who bred and sold Airedale terriers, started the team as a publicity stunt. He went to Canton, where the NFL was founded, and paid $100 for a franchise (his Airedales sold for up to $150 apiece).

Based in LaRue, Ohio, along with Lingo's Oorang Kennel Co., the Indians played in nearby Marion because LaRue had no football field. The Indians scored few points. After the Akron Pros shut them out 62-0, one newspaper's headline read: "Jim Thorpe's Indians Loaf."

But owner Lingo was more interested in promotion than winning games. Credited with creating NFL halftime shows, Lingo had his Indian players dance and shoot, as well as throw knives and lariats. One player, Nikolas Lassa, even wrestled a bear. The Airedales, too, were put through their paces, retrieving targets and treeing the bear.

The team was disbanded in 1924, finishing with a 4-16 record.

Rebecca Goodman

E-mail or call (513) 768-8361

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