At the beginning of the Roaring Twenties the NFL was just a footnote within the landscape of American sports. The early pro game was played on dirt fields by vagabond athletes who would beat up or punch out their opponent for fifty dollars a game. But one team was different than the rest: the Oorang Indians. Comprised entirely of Native Americans and led by star athlete Jim Thorpe, the Oorang Indians were an instant hit in almost every city they visited. In Walter Lingo, Jim Thorpe, and the Oorang Indians: How a Dog Kennel Owner Created the NFL's Most Famous Traveling Team, NFL historian Chris Willis tells the story of this unique and fascinating part of professional football history. In 1922 Walter Lingo, a dog kennel owner from tiny La Rue, Ohio, joined forces with Jim Thorpe, the country's greatest athlete, to create the Oorang Indians. Willis recounts how Lingo used the football team, the star attraction of player-coach Thorpe, and the all Native-American squad to help advertise his kennel and sell dogs, putting the small town of La Rue on the map. With the complete cooperation of the Lingo family and unlimited access to family photos and archives, Walter Lingo, Jim Thorpe, and the Oorang Indians provides an up-close and behind-the-scenes view into the making of this little-known team. It is a remarkable story that will be enjoyed by football fans and historians alike.
About the Author
Chris Willis is the Head of the Research Library at NFL Films, a position he has held since 1996. He is the author of multiple books on pro football, including The Man Who Built the National Football League: Joe F. Carr (2010), Dutch Clark: The Life of an NFL Legend and the Birth of the Detroit Lions (2012), and A Nearly Perfect Season: The Inside Story of the 1984 San Francisco 49ers (2014), all published by Rowman & Littlefield. In 2002 Willis was nominated for an Emmy for his work on the HBO Documentary "The Game of Their Lives: Pro Football in the 1950's." Willis was awarded the Professional Football Researchers Association's Ralph Hay award for lifetime achievement in pro football research and historiography in 2012.