Before The League

The story of the people and towns that made pro football America's biggest sport.

The 6-part documentary story of the people and towns that made pro football America's biggest sport.

“Before the League” examines how small towns like Canton and Massillon, Ohio were the blueprint for fielding early pro teams as well as fostering healthy rivalries. As precursors to the NFL, teams like the Akron Pros, Dayton Triangles, Portsmouth Spartans, Ironton Tanks, Shelby Blues, Oorang Indians, Rochester Jeffersons, Buffalo All-Americans, Milwaukee Badgers and Columbus Panhandles laid the groundwork for the successes of today’s big city teams.

“Before The League” Premieres at Pro Football Hall of Fame, debuts across the country on November 17-18

Debut of six-part series on the origins of the NFL set for Tuesday, November 17 and Wednesday, November 18

CANTON, OH (October 27, 2015) – As football celebrates the NFL’s 95th season, a historic sports documentary titled “Before The League” will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel across the country over two consecutive nights November 17-18, 2015.

“Before the League” is a six-part groundbreaking series chronicling the history of professional football. The documentary examines how small towns like Canton and Massillon (OH) were the blueprint for fielding early pro teams as well as fostering healthy rivalries.

“Pro football is the rags-to-riches story of the United States – that anything is possible if you believe in something and you work hard at it,’’ said Chris Willis of NFL Films. “The people and communities involved in the early years of pro football – many from Ohio and the Midwest – proved that you can build something from scratch to something as big as pro football and the NFL is today.”

With footage and interviews from across Ohio, Wisconsin and New York, “Before the League” covers unique story lines such Charles Follis, one of the first players to break the color barrier of pro football with the Shelby (OH) Blues; the controversy of football’s first paid player; the only all-Native American professional football team (from LaRue, OH); the sport’s first superstar (Jim Thorpe); the site of the first NFL game (Dayton, OH); the origins of some of today’s biggest football franchises (Green Bay Packers); and the impact on today’s pro game.

“If you’re a football fan, there is no better way to celebrate the history of professional football than seeing ‘Before The League,’” said Jason Pheister, Vice President/GM of Time Warner Cable SportsChannels. “Most people don’t realize that America’s biggest sport is rooted in small Midwestern towns which is why this story had to be told. ‘Before The League’ interlaces the fascinating stories of deep passion and pride that ultimately led to the formation of the NFL. ”

The series will debut as a two-night event on Tuesday, November 17 and Wednesday, November 18, in prime time on TWC SportsChannels in Ohio, New York, the Carolinas, Wisconsin, Kansas City and Texas. An encore presentation of all six episodes is scheduled to run back-to-back Sunday, November 22.

“Before the League” was produced for Time Warner Cable SportsChannel, in partnership with independent producers and artists and support from the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The documentary series includes never before filmed memorabilia and photos from historians and private collectors and required three years of research, production and editing.

For more information on “Before The League” visit

The Time Warner Cable SportsChannels are 24/7 networks that carry distinct, comprehensive local sports programming on different channels across the nation. In Ohio, Time Warner Cable SportsChannel is led by Columbus Crew SC, the Mid-American Conference, Dayton Flyers, and high school games and programming, and can be found in HD on Time Warner Cable channel 1311HD/311 across the state, as well as on channel 510 in the formerly Insight portions of the Columbus area and on channel 511HD/510 in the formerly Insight portions of the Cincinnati metropolitan area in northern Kentucky. For more information, visit and follow the network on Twitter via @TWCSportsOH and Time Warner Cable at @TWC_Ohio.

About Time Warner Cable

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© 2015 Before The League, LLC.