Sports movies love a ragtag team of goofballs because that's precisely what a sports team in real life is not. Real teams are big businesses full of highly paid professionals, and leagues have no tolerance for craziness beyond the occasional player adopting a wacky nickname. It wasn't always like that, though. Every sport has an "anything goes" period in its history when insanity was just par for the course.
5One Pro Football Team Was Started Purely to Sell Dogs
When the NFL was taking its first baby steps in the 1920s, football had not yet become the multibillion-dollar beast we know today. Fans at the time were thus treated to small town franchises like the (awesomely named) Tonawanda Kardex. There was none of the commercialism or product placement that ruins the purity of pro sports today. But all this changed with the Oorang Indians, a team that was less about gridiron excellence and more about selling dogs.
The Oorang Indians were all about promoting Airedale hunting terriers. This was their logo:
Their rivals were sponsored by Vicks.
The team was the brainchild of Walter Lingo, owner of Oorang Kennels, and on paper, the lineup wasn't bad, which only makes the rest of this that much sadder. (They were helmed by all-around sports legend Jim Thorpe and had another future Hall of Famer, Joe Guyon.) You see, while the Indians did play games just like any other team, the real action for them was always during the pregame and halftime, when they burst into elaborate live-action advertisements featuring Lingo's Airedales.
In their defense, that dog led the team in interceptions.
The dogs gave trailing and retrieval performances, up to and including chasing a live bear up a tree. (Yes, the players had to haul a live bear with them. Yes, they also wrestled said bear during halftime, because why not?) The players gave shooting exhibitions, dance performances, fancy tomahawk shows, and even goddamn re-enactments of World War I scenarios. Then the halftime show ended and the same guys who'd just spun axes and wrestled wild animals while the other team was recuperating went right back to playing again.
This not only gave them the dubious honor of pioneering the modern halftime show (thanks for that shitty Black Eyed Peas Super Bowl medley, dudes!), it also guaranteed that as an actual football team they spent most of their time getting teabagged. 62-0 defeats weren't unheard of. Lingo pulled some strings to ensure that the Indians played almost all of their games on rival turf, and thus in front of fresh audiences. This constant touring, together with Lingo's indifference toward their performance on the gridiron, meant that the team devoted quite a lot of time to partying, and often performed hung over or even drunk.
Back in those days, the Redskins would have been considered the height of racial understanding.
The Indians disbanded in 1923 after two seasons of subpar performance. Say what you want, but we're maintaining healthy respect for anyone who plays football, juggles axes, and wrestles bears while bombed out of their skull.