The All-American Football Conference (AAFC), for a few brief years at the end of the 1940s, put up a respectable challenge to the National Football League’s dominance of professional American football. In 1946, its first year of competition, AAFC rosters included 40 College All-Stars, a pair of recent Heisman Trophy winners, and more than a hundred players with NFL experience.
At the beginning of that first year, the Brooklyn Dodgers began looking for a Northwest training site – ultimately Bend was chosen over Seaside, Astoria, Salem, Eugene, Longview, and Vancouver (The Sunday Oregonian, 23 August 1946).
After weeks of training in Bend, the Dodgers arranged to play the Chicago Rockets in Portland, in what would be the nascent league’s very first, pre-season, exhibition game. The game was played on Sunday, August 18, 1946 at Multnomah civic stadium (The Oregonian, 19 August 1946).
Gridiron warriors of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Chicago Rockets, playing for keeps and steady jobs this fall and winter, staged a spectacular 14-to-14 battle at Multnomah civic stadium Sunday night.
And when the bruising duel was over, the 18,000 shirtsleeved fans who viewed the thriller were firmly convinced the two teams will go a long way in the new All-American football conference.
The AAFC regular season began a few weeks later, on September 6, 1946, with the Cleveland Browns defeating the Miami Seahawks 44-0. The Browns would go on to win the championship that year, and each year of the league’s existence.
Ultimately though, competition with the NFL proved too difficult, and after the 1949 season the two leagues merged. Three AAFC teams joined the NFL (San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, and Baltimore Colts) while the rest of the teams folded.
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