Rochester’s Own Leatherheads

Those planning to see George Clooney’s newest film Leatherheads will also be treated to a little glimpse into Rochester sports history.

The Rochester Jeffersons were one of eleven teams that were members of the American Professional Football Association during its inaugural season in 1920. Two years later the league would change its name to the National Football League, and the Jeffersons would remain a part of the league until 1925.

The film’s plot is similar to the real life story of the Jeffersons. With attendance sagging and the team struggling, the Jeffersons’ owner/coach/player Leo Lyons tried to sign the biggest name out of college to play for his team – Red Grange.

In the movies, Clooney’s character gets his stud. But In real life Lyons was outbid by George Halas, who owned the Chicago Bears. The rest is history – Grange and the Bears went on to football immortality and the Jeffersons folded after the 1925 season.

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4 thoughts on “Rochester’s Own Leatherheads

  1. It’s a pretty good movie. I enjoyed it, anyway. It’s fun and it captures the spirit of the screwball comedies of the past. Cool to hear about the Rochester connection!

  2. We’re planning to see it. It looks to me from the previews that Clooney’s role might bear some similarities to his role in “Oh Brother.” And then there’s the Jim factor.

    The Office meets Oh, Brother in a sports flick? Sign me up.

    Hopefully I wasn’t misleading in my account of the Rochester “connection.” The film isn’t about the Jeffersons. But it is about professional football during that same era and the plot is vaguely similar to what the Jeffersons tried to pull off with acquiring Red Grange.

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