The AAFC was founded by Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward on June 4, 1944. Ward was also the originator of baseball’s All-Star Game and football’s College All-Star Game.
Ward brought together a number of wealthy pro football enthusiasts, some of whom had previously attempted to purchase NFL franchises. Ward had previously encouraged the NFL to expand, but now he hoped to bring about a permanent second league and a championship game with the NFL, similar to baseball’s World Series.
On November 21, 1944, the AAFC chose Jim Crowley, one of the "Four Horsemen of Notre Dame", as its commissioner. Not coincidentally, the NFL commissioner at this time was Elmer Layden, another of Knute Rockne's legendary 1924 backfield.
During the next months, the AAFC’s plans solidified. The league initially issued franchises for Buffalo, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco. Brooklyn and Miami were later added. A group representing Baltimore was considered for admission, but could not secure a stadium. The league planned to begin play in 1945, but postponed its opening for a year as World War II still raged.
As the eight franchises built their teams, no move was more far-reaching than Cleveland's choice of Paul Brown as its head coach. Brown had won six Ohio state championships in nine years at Massillon High School and the 1942 national championship at Ohio State, and had also coached successfully at the military’s Great Lakes Naval Station. In Cleveland, Brown would emerge as one of the game's greatest innovators.
Read more about this topic: All-America Football Conference
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