Book Review: The Columbus Panhandles: A Complete History of Pro Football’s Toughest Team, 1900-1922

The Panhandles, a professional football team known for its toughness and athleticism, was established from workers in the Pennsylvania Railroad shops out of Columbus, Ohio. The Columbus Panhandles had their first documented season in 1901. The team played through the beginning of the 1920’s. Longtime manager and future National Football League commissioner Joseph Carr brought a unique administrative style to the Panhandles, leading the team to historic popularity during his tenure. Relying on the most famous family in pro football history, Carr utilized the Nesser brothers’ physical prowess to win games and their unmatched popularity to fill the stands.

The Columbus Panhandles: A Complete History of Pro Football’s Toughest Team, 1900-1922 documents the history of the team through countless newspaper excerpts, ageless photographs, and original interviews. The book provides a detailed account of each season of competition, including the schedule, results, and known statistics for each year. It also provides biographical information on many of the longtime Columbus Panhandles, including the lengthy tenures of each of the six Nesser brothers. Totaling 90 years of service, the Nesser brothers served as the heart and soul of the team. Frank Nesser, a two-sport professional athlete whose abilities were compared to those of Jim Thorpe, led the Panhandles in scoring during most of his professional seasons.

The author, Chris Willis, set out to reestablish the legacy once enjoyed by the Columbus Panhandles. Willis’ experiences include authoring assignments for the Pro Football Researchers Association and a position as the head of the Research Library at NFL Films. His documentation of the Panhandles will peak the interests of a variety of readers. Historians and sport journalists will appreciate the historical portrayal of the Panhandles, while general football enthusiasts will be captivated by the stories of Nesser brothers and their role in the early stages of professional football.

 

Author: Chris Willis
Published in 2007 by The Scarecrow Press, Inc.
ISBN: 0-8108-5893-2
Reviewed by David Gargone

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