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On this day 100 years ago, college teammates Sunshine Gepford and Roy Adkins helped the Decatur Staleys (now Bears) beat the Taylorville Independents, who had shut out all but 3 teams since 1914, for the state title. Their college coach, who was at the game, kicked them off the team the next day.

This was originally posted at /CHIBears as part of my series following the 1919 Decatur Staleys and their inaugural season a century ago. Every now and then, I plan on sharing a part of that series here on /NFL if it's something interesting, as I did with the very first game last month.
The year was 1919. The NFL had not yet come into being, meaning pro football was merely an assortment of regional independent teams going at it.
100 years ago today, one of those teams squared off in their biggest game of the season, taking on an even bigger team. To help them out, they recruited the services of a certain duo...

Decatur and Taylorville

The date was November 11, 1919. Exactly one year after the Great War came to an end, the Decatur Staleys geared up for their game against the Taylorville Independents.
Of course, we know the Staleys today as the Chicago Bears, but these weren't the Staleys you're familiar with (kind of). Earlier that fall, Augustus Eugene Staley, head of the A.E. Staley starch company, formed a football team to complement his baseball and bowling programs, feeling his employees could turn their time on the gridiron into a competitive fire and teamwork that could be applied in the factory.[1] As such, much of the roster consisted of players who were also employed at the plant; for example, running back Jake Lanum also worked as a timekeeper for the company.[2] That being said, the Staleys also sported the occasional "guest", a more experienced player to help out for a game or two—a ringer, in other words.
On the other side, Taylorville was a good team. Okay, that was an understatement: Taylorville was a really fucking good team. Founded in 1914, the Independents outscored their opponents 436 to... 0. Yeah, they shut out everybody they played in just their first year; in a game against Virden, they won 102–0.[3]
In 1915, the Moline Indians finally ruined Taylorville's streak when they pulled off the 14–2 victory. Unfortunately for everyone else on the Independents' schedule, they were easily shut out. In 1916, the Decatur Indians had their fun as they scored a whopping eight points on the Independents; those points also happened to be the only ones Taylorville allowed all year (they scored 350). 1917 saw a 7–0 record with 361 total points scored against 0 allowed.[4]
The war and Spanish flu forced them to cancel the 1918 season, but they quickly got back to work in 1919 as they continued shutting everyone out. One of their wins was a 78–0 destruction of Carlinville.[5][6][7]
So how did the Staleys match up against this literally-playing-Madden-on-Rookie team? Well, The Decatur Herald simply referred to the Staleys as "an unknown quantity", which was probably a reasonable description for a club still in its first season.[4] Said first season was rather tumultuous, to say the least: after losing 3–0 to the Moline Tractors, they blew out Stonington 50–3, annihilated Staunton 89–0, had a game canceled because the visiting teams' trucks broke down on their way to the stadium, and struggled to beat up Champaign in what was supposed to be a tune-up for Taylorville.

Pre-Game

As the two teams prepared to go to battle, the media in both markets were excited. Taylorville newspapers quickly accused the Staleys of spending $4,000 in ringers to play for them, though Staley manager Fritz Wasem refuted them. As he explained, the Staleys were "a strong enough team to go down there and defeat those fellows without doing so."[7]
Either way, the Staleys didn't want to take any chances against a juggernaut like Taylorville, especially after the disastrous first half against Champaign the previous week. Head coach Red Brannan was quick to take action as he organized late-night team meetings to prepare for Taylorville even before they played Champaign.[7] He also recruited a pair of ringers: Millikin University star halfback "Sunshine" Sidney Gepford and guard Roy Adkins; in their latest game, Gepford played QB and RB as Millikin shut out Charleston 32–0.[8] Adkins, the son of Congressman Charles Adkins, was already familiar with the Staleys as he worked at the starch company part-time to pay for college.[9]
Meanwhile in Taylorville, bettors went as far as to bet the Staleys would fail to score a touchdown. However, they conceded yet another shutout probably won't happen as Jack Mintun boasted an impressive leg for field goals and drop kicks.[7] Regardless, Taylorville head coach Grover Hoover devised a special field goal block formation; he also emphasized stopping the RB tandem of Lanum and Walt Veach. On the other hand, Staley quarterback Chuck Dressen, who terrorized defenses with the Decatur Indians, was not a concern for Hoover as he had gained weight and therefore was not as mobile as he was in the past.[10] To get a better read on his opponent, Hoover sent scouts to the DecatuChampaign game.[11]
In Taylorville, fans were all in on their team, including placing bets on the Staleys not scoring a touchdown. However, they conceded a shutout might not be possible due to Jack Mintun's leg strength.[5] For Taylorville coach Grover Hoover, he emphasized special teams to stop Mintun, including creating a new field goal block formation, and drilled his defense to shut down the halfback duo of Walt Veach and Jake Lanum. Even with Staley quarterback Chuck Dressen enjoying a solid season and having stymied opposing defenses with the Decatur Indians, Hoover felt he wasn't a priority concern since he had gained weight and therefore lost most of his mobility.[9] To better prepare for their opponent, Hoover sent scouts to the Staleys' warm-up game against Champaign.[10]
With such a high-stakes game, the Staleys brought the entire team, including benchwarmers who knew they weren't going to play whatsoever, to Taylorville on a special train.[10] A.E. Staley closed its mechanical and construction plants to let workers join the team, though those in the manufacturing department had to stay behind. The train also made stops in various towns to pick up fans who wanted to tag along; they were charged $180 (about $2,671 in 2019) for the ride and a dollar ($14.84) for game admission plus tax that had been added due to the war.[12] Augustus Staley himself and company superintendent George Chamberlain (the man responsible for hiring George Halas the following year) accompanied the team on the trip.[4][5]

Game Day

To accommodate the Decatur fans, Taylorville's Hoover Field added an extra 800 seats to the south side.[4] Unfortunately for said fans, part of the stands collapsed during the game (though no one was hurt).[13]
Gepford and Adkins did not start the game and were backups when needed. Taylorville won the coin toss and received, and despite early offensive momentum, they were held to a three-and-out.[14] It didn't take long for Decatur to throw everyone's bets into disrepair as Lanum quickly scored on a touchdown run with the help of Dressen's 15-yard run and multiple short-yardage chunks by Veach and C. Lawrence Thrift. Taylorville, led by a QB named Jones, fought back before getting intercepted by Veach who took it back for a 60-yard pick six. The Independents tried to respond and entered Staley territory before Veach intercepted QB Jones' pass and returned it 60 yards for the pick-six.[13] With the Staleys up 14–0, the score remained that way through halftime and the third quarter. Although Taylorville fullback Mullen helped his offense reach the one-yard line, Decatur's defense's goal-line stand worked in their favor.[14]
Early in the fourth quarter, Taylorville finally scored with a one-yard touchdown run by halfback Miller to cap off a 40-yard drive. Although the Staleys punted, the Independents lost a fumble on their 35 to set up a 30-yard march. From the five, Dressen performed what The Decatur Herald called "one of the cleanest plays of the day" with a fake throw followed by an end-around to secure the game-sealing score.[14]
Desperate to stay in the game, the Independents went pass-heavy, only for many of the throws to fall incomplete. Final score: Decatur 21, Taylorville 7.[14]
The Staley Fellowship Journal's December 1919 issue had a lot to say about the victory:[15]
The climax of the season came when we met the strong Taylorville team at their field on Armistice Day, Nov. 11th.
And that was a great game. The rooters from Decatur filled a special train. Before the game started, Taylorville fans said they had to hand it to us that we were the biggest crowd of rooters who had ever come to town. They said that to console us for our coming defeat as they canvassed the bleachers to put up their money. Oh, but it was a fine day, and a great game!
Taylorville has had the State championship team for six years and under the skillful guidance of Coach Hoover has developed into a machine capable of giving any team in the country a good battle. They were not entirely satisfied with their home players, however, and in order to strengthen their team, Coach Hoover went as far from home as Columbus, Ohio, for two famous warriors. As a matter of fact, he might as well have saved his tine and money for they looked like any others to the Staley bunch.
Taylorville has not allowed a visiting team to cross their goal since 1916 when Moline defeated them,—but within the first five minutes of play a touchdown was made by Staleys followed immediately by Veech, Staley back, intercepting one of Taylorville's forward passes and executing a beautiful 60-yard run with perfect interference for a second touchdown. Jack Mintun, famous Staley center, kicked goal each time.
During the second half, Taylorville managed to score, but this was evened up by Charlie Dressen pulling off his original fake pass and carrying the ball around right end for the third touchdown while the Taylorville players stood open mouthed wondering where the ball had gone.
The shock of a defeat to the famous Taylorville Independents by the newly organized Staley's virtually numbed the Christian County fans, but as soon as they could regain the use of their voices, alibis galore were presented. Some paid the Staley back-field the high compliment of being the back-field of the Hammond (Indiana) All Stars,— others thought sure they were taken direct from Notre Dame. One of the boys from the Reclamation plant was picked out as being a famous kicker from the University of Illinois. Some of the disappointed ones who had wagered odds that their favorites would humble Staley's howled because their old quarterback was not there: some others accused one of the Staley men of buying off one of the Ohio world beaters simply because some years ago he had played on the same baseball team.
As a matter of fact, the Staley team won the game and the Independent football championship of Illinois through superior coaching, better generalship and far better team work. Very few, if any, of the big college teams can give a better exhibition of clean, hard playing football than was given by Staleys on November 11th, and too much credit cannot be given the fellows who trained so long and faithfully and who obeyed so well the instructions given by the peppery little coach "Red" Brannon. There can be no doubt in the minds of those who have listened to the wails of the losing team and its backers that a great part of the trouble is the chagrin produced by the results of Coach Brannon's work with a team of players new to each other and to him in a few short weeks as compared to that of the Taylorville team after six years coaching by Hoover. Atta-Boy, Red!

Post-Game

The football team was not the only Decatur Staleys celebrating a win over Taylorville. In the stands that game were members of the Staley bowling team, who capped off their day by beating Taylorville in their sport 2,238 to 2,070.[16]
The day after the game, Staley Football Club and future Bears executive Morgan O'Brien proclaimed his team the Central Illinois champions:[13]
We're claiming the State Independent championship of Illinois football teams this morning.
Taylorville has held the title for several years. The Rock Island team I suppose is also claiming it but we can't get a game with them. Outside of that, I don't suppose any other team will contest our claim. Spring Valley is out of it because Kewanee beat them recently and next Sunday Taylorville plays Kewanee and it is almost a cinch that Taylorville with win.
Reeling from the loss, Taylorville immediately contacted O'Brien to schedule a rematch on Thanksgiving Day; although they had a game against Spring Valley that day, the Independents had already beaten them many times and wanted to take on their new rival. O'Brien explained that although the Staleys didn't have a game scheduled on Thanksgiving, if they failed to get any other opponents, they were more than happy to "go to Taylorville and whip them again."[17]
However, Staley and Wasem said otherwise. had other plans and quickly shut those talks down. After all, Staley said, what reason was there for the Independents to play the Staleys again if they were going to get their asses beaten yet again? If they wanted to even have a chance at beating Decatur, they would have to hire ringers of their own.[18]
Even then, O'Brien and the Independents were vigilant in getting a rematch. O'Brien suggested November 30, but Taylorville had the Spring Valley game days before that. December 7 was the final offer, but bad weather was on the horizon, ending any hopes of a second meeting.[19] Look on the bright side, Taylorville: even without a rematch, the Staley game was one of your only games to net a profit (one of just two, to be exact); in fact, it was the largest profit of $500 ($7,420.78 in 2019).[20]

Gepford and Adkins

It was all sunshine and rainbows for Decatur fans and players. It was not all sunshine and rainbows for Sunshine and Roy.
As Gepford and Adkins performed relief duty for the Staleys, watching from the stands was Millikin head coach Norman Wann; when Wann had received word of his players being part of a pro football team, he arrived in Taylorville in time for the second half. The day after the game, despite their denials, he kicked them off the team. As university president J.C. Hessler described their decision to play as "the yellowest thing that has ever been done by a Millikin athlete," the school board contemplated expelling them before deciding against it. Either way, their time with the Millikin Big Blue was over.[21][22]
Hessler and Wann called out Brannan for signing the two, with Wann saying the following:[21]
The men know the rules of the Illinois Intercollegiate Athletic Association. They knew that playing with another team for money made them professionals in the eyes of the Little 19 conference, and yet they went ahead and laid Millikin Athletics open to criticism. I feel certain that the men did not voluntarily offer their services to Staley's. It makes no difference that they were tempted with the offer made to them, they knew what they were doing when they went to play against Taylorville.
From the Decatur camp, Staley defended his coach:[23]
"Coach Brannan should not be blamed for inducing Sidney Gepford and Roy Adkins to play with the Staley team against Taylorville. On the other hand he warned them against injuring their collegiate standing but they wished to get into the battle and Adkins had a personal interest in the game, as he is an employee of the firm.
"Personally I did not know that the two Millikin men were to play in the game until I got down there. The company does not want to do anything that will injure the spirit of clean sport for Millikin. I have nothing to do with the details of sport carried on by the Staley clubs as the athletic director has charge of that, but I would not want him to do anything that would injure Millikin in the least."
Later in the week, Wann changed his tone and clarified he was not accusing Brannan of enticing the two to join the Staleys: "I want it understood that I did not accuse Coach Brannan of the Staley team of inducing Adkins and Gepford to play in Taylorville. I believe the responsibility lies with the boys themselves. I am heartily sorry for the whole affair."[25]
With their college career basically over, they went for the reasonable option: stay with the Staleys. Gepford would see action at quarterback later in the 1919 season, and the two remained on the team after Halas took over in 1920, making them members of the first NFL-era Staleys/Bears team.[9][24][25]
Tragically, this story is not a happy ending for Gepford. In 1922, an old Millikin line coach working for Bethany College in West Virginia recruited him and Adkins to play for them; as Bethany did not have amateur athlete status rules, they also picked up other former APFA/NFL players, including some former Staleys.[9] The following year against Butler, Gepford suffered a concussion but decided to keep playing. As a result, he began experiencing severe headaches that persisted into 1924 as he worked at A.E. Staley and prepared for his new job as a high school teacher.[25]
On September 9, 1924, he committed suicide by gunshot; he was 28 years old. At his funeral, his mother blamed his death on the head injuries from his playing days; of course, we know this today as CTE. Although his concussion technically happened in a college game after his pro career ended, Gepford is considered one of, if not the very first NFL player to die of brain injuries caused by football.[25]

References

[1] The Man Who Built the National Football League: Joe F. Carr by Chris Willis
[2] Jake Lanum, Staley Museum
[3] TAYLORVILLE DOWNS VIRDEN IN BIG SCORE from The Decatur Herald, October 26, 1914
[4] TAYLORVILLE TEAM HAS A GREAT RECORD from The Decatur Herald, November 10, 1919
[5] STALEYS READY TO MEET TAYLORVILLE from The Decatur Daily Review, November 9, 1919
[6] INFLUENZA WORSE from The Decatur Daily Review, November 22, 1918
[7] TAYLORVILLE-STALEY GAME HOLDS INTEREST from The Decatur Herald, October 29, 1919
[8] 2,000 PERSONS SEE CHARLESTON HUMBLED from The Decatur Herald, November 9, 1919
[9] Roy Adkins, Staley Museum
[10] Biggest Independent Game in State Nov. 11 from The Decatur Herald, November 6, 1919
[11] STALEY'S MEET TWIN CITY TEAM from The Decatur Herald, November 2, 1919
[12] STALEYS TO MEET CHAMPAIGN TODAY from The Decatur Daily Review, November 2, 1919
[13] STALEY TEAM CLAIMS STATE CHAMPIONSHIP from The Decatur Daily Review, November 12, 1919
[14] STALEY'S WIN FROM TAYLORVILLE 21 TO 7 from The Decatur Herald, November 12, 1919
[15] Staley Fellowship Journal: December 1919
[16] Staley Bolwers Defeat Taylorville from The Decatur Herald, November 13, 1919
[17] STALEYS MIGHT PLAY TAYLORVILLE AGAIN from The Decatur Herald, November 13, 1919
[18] WILL NOT PLAY TAYLORVILLE from The Decatur Herald, November 14, 1919
[19] LOADING UP FOR STALEYS from The Decatur Herald, November 21, 1919
[20] TAYLORVILLE WON GAME; LOST MONEY from The Decatur Herald, November 30, 1919
[21] MAY DISMISS MILLIKIN MEN FROM SCHOOL from The Decatur Herald, November 13, 1919
[22] TWO MILLIKIN MEN OUT OF ATHLETICS from The Decatur Daily Review, November 13, 1919
[23] BRANNAN NOT TO BE BLAMED from The Decatur Herald, November 14, 1919
[24] ARCOLA TEAM FALLS TO STALEYS BY SCORE 41-0 from The Decatur Herald, November 24, 1919
[25] Sidney Gepford, Staley Museum
submitted by ZappaOMatic to nfl [link] [comments]

[OC] Almost on this day 100 years ago, the Decatur Staleys played the Taylorville Independents for the Central Illinois Championship. Taylorville, who had shut out all but three opponents since their creation in 1914, was upset 21–7.

Okay, this isn't being published exactly 100 years ago, but November 11, 2019 is a Monday. Assuming Sunday's game doesn't go our way, I don't want to be the band playing music while the Titanic was sinking (or for a more Bears-centric analogy, I don't want to be the college kid weighing himself while the Eastland was capsizing). Regardless, let's tackle this.
The year is 1919. The Super Bowl wasn't a thing, let alone an NFL championship game. Hell, the NFL wasn't even in existence yet!
100 years ago today, our heroes on the original Decatur Staleys played their Super Bowl.

The Big One: vs. Taylorville Independents

Exactly one year after World War I came to an end, the Staleys visited Taylorville to take on the Independents.
To say Taylorville was a formidable team would easily be an understatement. When the team was created in 1914, they shut out every opponent they faced that year and scored a combined 436 points; in one of their games, they defeated a team from Virden 102–0.[1] The following year, they lost for the first time (and what would be their only defeat up to this point) in a 14–2 loss to the Moline Indians; those 14 points were the only points anyone scored on Taylorville that year. In 1916, they allowed just eight points, six of which were from Decatur's predecessor team (also named the Indians), and dropped 350 total.[2]
After a 1917 campaign in which they won all seven games and once again shut out everyone (while scoring 361), they closed up shop in 1918 due to the war and flu pandemic.[3][4] In 1919, they returned in full force and entered the Staleys game undefeated.[2] Unsurprisingly, all four of their victories in 1919 were shutouts, including a 78–0 thrashing of Carlinville.[5]
On the other side, The Decatur Herald simply referred to the Staleys as "an unknown quantity", perhaps a reasonable description for a club still in its first season; even so, the paper noted the team had "made a remarkable showing since it has started playing."[2] After all, a 3–1 record with the lone loss being a 3–0 defeat in the season opener was nothing to scoff at.
Headlines were aplenty on both sides. Although brothers Red and Baldy May were both on the Independents, neither started in the game against their former team. Speaking of players, Taylorville newspapers published reports alleging the Staleys were going to spend $4,000 in ringers to play for them; Fritz Wasem denied the accusations, saying he had "a strong enough team to go down there and defeat those fellows without doing so."[5]
Regardless, he wasn't going to take any chances, especially when what was supposed to be a tune-up game last week ended up closer than expected; as a result, he pushed his players harder in practice than ever before. Preparations for Taylorville began even before the Champaign game, with Red Brannan hosting late-night strategy meetings and using the word "Pep" as a team motto.[5] Practices began at 2 PM and ran into the evening.[3] Despite Wasem shooting down the rumors of hiring ringers, however, Brannan signed a pair of Millikin University stars in halfback "Sunshine" Sidney Gepford and guard Roy Adkins; in their latest game, Millikin defeated Charleston 32–0 as Gepford saw time at running back and quarterback.[3][6][7] Adkins, whose father Charles was a Congressman, also happened to be an employee at A.E. Staley, working on Sundays and Mondays to pay for college.[8] You might wonder how two college players were allowed to play professionally, but we'll get to that later.
In Taylorville, fans were all in on their team, including placing bets on the Staleys not scoring a touchdown. However, they conceded a shutout might not be possible due to Jack Mintun's leg strength.[5] For Taylorville coach Grover Hoover, he emphasized special teams to stop Mintun, including creating a new field goal block formation, and drilled his defense to shut down the halfback duo of Walt Veach and Jake Lanum. Even with Staley quarterback Chuck Dressen enjoying a solid season and having stymied opposing defenses with the Decatur Indians, Hoover felt he wasn't a priority concern since he had gained weight and therefore lost most of his mobility.[9] To better prepare for their opponent, Hoover sent scouts to the Staleys' warm-up game against Champaign.[10]
Overall, fans on both sides and even neutral onlookers had reason to be excited. The Herald wrote, "From a dope standpoint the fans figure that the two teams are of about equal strength and that there will be a battle royal on when the whistle blows for the start of the contest."[2]
With high stakes in store, the Staleys arranged for a special train to Taylorville, with Wasem bringing his entire roster along even if some weren't going to play.[9] A.E. Staley closed down its mechanical and construction plants to let workers in those departments accompany the team, but those in the manufacturing plant weren't as lucky. Leaving on game day, those wishing to attend were charged $180 (about $2,671 in 2019) for the train ride and a dollar ($14.84) for admission plus tax that had been added thanks to the war.[11]
The train left the Illinois Central Station on game day at 1 PM and made occasional stops to pick up fans wanting to attend the game; Augustus Staley himself and company superintendent George Chamberlain (the man who would later be responsible for recruiting George Halas to the company) also decided to tag along.[2][3] Since Taylorville was hosting a homecoming event that day, those on the train were advised to eat beforehand to avoid having to find concessions there.[3]

Game Day

To accommodate the influx of Decatur fans, Hoover Field added an extra 800 seats to the south side.[2] Unfortunately for those spectators, part of the stands collapsed during the game, though no one was injured.[12] Approximately 3,000 attended what The Decatur Daily Review called "a right lively and interesting celebration of Armistice day."[13][14] Here's a collage of fans at the game from the Staley Fellowship Journal's December 1919 issue.
Taylorville won the coin toss and elected to receive. Despite gashing the Staley defensive line early on, the Independents' offensive progress came to a halt and had to punt.[15] From there, the Staleys quickly ended Taylorville's shutout streak as Lanum finished an early drive with a touchdown run, receiving aid from a 15-yard run by Dressen and multiple short gains by Veach and C. Lawrence Thrift. The Independents tried to respond and entered Staley territory before Veach intercepted QB Jones' pass and returned it 60 yards for the pick-six.[12] Neither team would score for the rest of the first half.
In a scoreless third quarter, Lanum shanked a punt that went out of bounds on Decatur's 40. From there, Taylorville fullback Mullen tried to push his team downfield and into the red zone. Although they reached the one-yard line, the Staley defense held and forced a turnover on downs. Both teams exchanged punts once again.[15]
To start the fourth quarter, the Independents finally found their stride as halfback Miller led a 40-yard drive that ended with him scoring on a one-yard run. The Staleys went three-and-out, but Taylorville lost a fumble on their 35. Now in prime scoring position, Decatur marched to their opponent's five. There, Dressen executed what The Herald called "one of the cleanest plays of the day" with a fake throw followed by an end-around to take it into the end zone for the game-sealing score.[15]
Now down by two scores, the Independents were desperate to add points in front of their home crowd. They switched to a pass-heavy attack, many of which fell incomplete as the plan unceremoniously backfired.[15]
The Staleys have done it. They have taken down the best team in the state 21–7.
The aforementioned Staley Journal from December 1919 had a lot to say about the win:[16]
The climax of the season came when we met the strong Taylorville team at their field on Armistice Day, Nov. 11th.
And that was a great game. The rooters from Decatur filled a special train. Before the game started, Taylorville fans said they had to hand it to us that we were the biggest crowd of rooters who had ever come to town. They said that to console us for our coming defeat as they canvassed the bleachers to put up their money. Oh, but it was a fine day, and a great game!
Taylorville has had the State championship team for six years and under the skillful guidance of Coach Hoover has developed into a machine capable of giving any team in the country a good battle. They were not entirely satisfied with their home players, however, and in order to strengthen their team, Coach Hoover went as far from home as Columbus, Ohio, for two famous warriors. As a matter of fact, he might as well have saved his tine and money for they looked like any others to the Staley bunch.
Taylorville has not allowed a visiting team to cross their goal since 1916 when Moline defeated them,—but within the first five minutes of play a touchdown was made by Staleys followed immediately by Veech, Staley back, intercepting one of Taylorville's forward passes and executing a beautiful 60-yard run with perfect interference for a second touchdown. Jack Mintun, famous Staley center, kicked goal each time.
During the second half, Taylorville managed to score, but this was evened up by Charlie Dressen pulling off his original fake pass and carrying the ball around right end for the third touchdown while the Taylorville players stood open mouthed wondering where the ball had gone.
The shock of a defeat to the famous Taylorville Independents by the newly organized Staley's virtually numbed the Christian County fans, but as soon as they could regain the use of their voices, alibis galore were presented. Some paid the Staley back-field the high compliment of being the back-field of the Hammond (Indiana) All Stars,— others thought sure they were taken direct from Notre Dame. One of the boys from the Reclamation plant was picked out as being a famous kicker from the University of Illinois. Some of the disappointed ones who had wagered odds that their favorites would humble Staley's howled because their old quarterback was not there: some others accused one of the Staley men of buying off one of the Ohio world beaters simply because some years ago he had played on the same baseball team.
As a matter of fact, the Staley team won the game and the Independent football championship of Illinois through superior coaching, better generalship and far better team work. Very few, if any, of the big college teams can give a better exhibition of clean, hard playing football than was given by Staleys on November 11th, and too much credit cannot be given the fellows who trained so long and faithfully and who obeyed so well the instructions given by the peppery little coach "Red" Brannon. There can be no doubt in the minds of those who have listened to the wails of the losing team and its backers that a great part of the trouble is the chagrin produced by the results of Coach Brannon's work with a team of players new to each other and to him in a few short weeks as compared to that of the Taylorville team after six years coaching by Hoover. Atta-Boy, Red!

Post-Game

The football Staleys weren't the only ones celebrating a victory that day. Shortly after watching their colleagues win on the gridiron, the Staley bowling team defeated Taylorville in their sport 2,238 to 2,070.[17]
The victory didn't come clean for the Staleys, with Dressen nursing a broken shoulder blade and Wasem and Veach both suffering knee injuries.[15][18] But what mattered to them was that they were the best team in Illinois, and they made sure to show it to everyone. The day after the game, Staley Football Club and future Bears executive Morgan O'Brien proclaimed:[12]
We're claiming the State Independent championship of Illinois football teams this morning.
Taylorville has held the title for several years. The Rock Island team I suppose is also claiming it but we can't get a game with them. Outside of that, I don't suppose any other team will contest our claim. Spring Valley is out of it because Kewanee beat them recently and next Sunday Taylorville plays Kewanee and it is almost a cinch that Taylorville with win.
Even with the loss, Taylorville wanted payback and immediately reached out to O'Brien with the hope of arranging a rematch on Thanksgiving Day. Although the Independents had a game scheduled against Spring Valley that day, they had beaten them multiple times before. For Taylorville fans, they had found their new rival, and all they wanted now was to get another crack at them. In response to the calls, O'Brien said, "We have no game scheduled for Thanksgiving. If we do not get a better offer we will go to Taylorville and whip them again."[19]
However, Augustus Staley and Wasem had other plans and quickly shut those talks down.[18] As Staley explained, there was no reason for the Independents to try playing Decatur again if they were just going to get smacked and lose by multiple scores for a second time, meaning they would have to rely on ringers if they wanted to even have a chance at beating his team.[20]
Regardless, O'Brien and the Independents tried to get a late-season game going. A November 30 date in Decatur was turned down since Taylorville had the Spring Valley game on Thanksgiving, while a December 7 attempt fell apart due to fears of bad weather.[21] On the plus side for Taylorville, while a rematch wasn't feasible, the Staley game was one of just two on the 1919 schedule that netted them a profit with $500.[22]
The Staleys might be Central Illinois Champions, but their season wasn't finished yet. With Taylorville out of the picture, Staley and Wasem turned their attention to other teams like Rock Island and Beardstown; although they ultimately played neither, Rock Island would become a bitter rival of the Staleys/Bears once they joined the APFA/NFL. In the meantime, O'Brien scheduled a game against the Arcola Independents.[20]

Gepford and Adkins

Despite the jovial attitude in Decatur, things weren't all sunshine and rainbows. Okay, maybe Sunshine was involved.
When he received word that Gepford and Adkins were playing pro football for the Staleys, Millikin head coach Norman Wann made his way to Taylorville and watched the second half. The next day, he kicked the two off the team despite their repeated denials of playing, while the university board considered expelling them before ultimately letting them stay in school. University president J.C. Hessler called their actions "the yellowest thing that has ever been done by a Millikin athlete."[7][23]
Brannan was singled out by Hessler and Wann as the one responsible for the Gepford/Adkins signing (since playing football and getting a paycheck along the way is pretty neat, regardless of time period). Wann in particular said he was "certain that the men did not voluntarily offer their services to Staley's. It makes no difference that they were tempted with the offer made to them, they knew what they were doing when they went to play against Taylorville."[23]
Staley defended Brannan:[24]
"Coach Brannan should not be blamed for inducing Sidney Gepford and Roy Adkins to play with the Staley team against Taylorville. On the other hand he warned them against injuring their collegiate standing but they wished to get into the battle and Adkins had a personal interest in the game, as he is an employee of the firm.
"Personally I did not know that the two Millikin men were to play in the game until I got down there. The company does not want to do anything that will injure the spirit of clean sport for Millikin. I have nothing to do with the details of sport carried on by the Staley clubs as the athletic director has charge of that, but I would not want him to do anything that would injure Millikin in the least."
Later in the week, Wann changed his tone as he clarified he was not accusing Brannan of enticing the two to join the Staleys. "I believe the responsibility lies with the boys themselves," he said. "I am heartily sorry for the whole affair."[25]
Now that they were considered pro athletes, they went for the best option available: staying with the Staleys. When George Halas took over the team in 1920, Gepford and Adkins became members of the original APFA/NFL-era roster.[8][26]
Tragically, this story did not have a happy ending for Gepford. In 1922, he and Adkins were recruited by an old Millikin line coach to enroll at Bethany College in West Virginia and play college football again; since Bethany didn't care for amateur athlete status, the two were joined by other former APFA players, including three ex-Staleys.[8] A year later, Gepford suffered a concussion in a game against Butler, but kept playing. This decision led to severe headaches through the following summer as he continued working at A.E. Staley and prepared for his job as a high school teacher.[26]
On September 9, 1924, he shot and killed himself; he was 28 years old. At his funeral, his mother blamed the head injuries from his playing days for causing his suicide. Of course, from today's perspective, we know this as CTE. Although his concussion technically happened in a college game after his pro career ended, Gepford is perhaps the very first NFL player to die of brain injuries caused by football.[26]

References

[1] TAYLORVILLE DOWNS VIRDEN IN BIG SCORE from The Decatur Herald, October 26, 1914
[2] TAYLORVILLE TEAM HAS A GREAT RECORD from The Decatur Herald, November 10, 1919
[3] STALEYS READY TO MEET TAYLORVILLE from The Decatur Daily Review, November 9, 1919
[4] INFLUENZA WORSE from The Decatur Daily Review, November 22, 1918
[5] TAYLORVILLE-STALEY GAME HOLDS INTEREST from The Decatur Herald, October 29, 1919
[6] 2,000 PERSONS SEE CHARLESTON HUMBLED from The Decatur Herald, November 9, 1919
[7] TWO MILLIKIN MEN OUT OF ATHLETICS from The Decatur Daily Review, November 13, 1919
[8] Roy Adkins, Staley Museum
[9] Biggest Independent Game in State Nov. 11 from The Decatur Herald, November 6, 1919
[10] STALEY'S MEET TWIN CITY TEAM from The Decatur Herald, November 2, 1919
[11] STALEYS TO MEET CHAMPAIGN TODAY from The Decatur Daily Review, November 2, 1919
[12] STALEY TEAM CLAIMS STATE CHAMPIONSHIP from The Decatur Daily Review, November 12, 1919
[13] Comments from The Decatur Daily Review, November 12, 1919
[14] Comments from The Decatur Daily Review, November 12, 1919
[15] STALEY'S WIN FROM TAYLORVILLE 21 TO 7 from The Decatur Herald, November 12, 1919
[16] Staley Fellowship Journal: December 1919
[17] Staley Bolwers Defeat Taylorville from The Decatur Herald, November 13, 1919
[18] NO RETURN GAME WITH TAYLORVILLE from The Decatur Daily Review, November 14, 1919
[19] STALEYS MIGHT PLAY TAYLORVILLE AGAIN from The Decatur Herald, November 13, 1919
[20] WILL NOT PLAY TAYLORVILLE from The Decatur Herald, November 14, 1919
[21] LOADING UP FOR STALEYS from The Decatur Herald, November 21, 1919
[22] TAYLORVILLE WON GAME; LOST MONEY from The Decatur Herald, November 30, 1919
[23] MAY DISMISS MILLIKIN MEN FROM SCHOOL from The Decatur Herald, November 13, 1919
[24] BRANNAN NOT TO BE BLAMED from The Decatur Herald, November 14, 1919
[25] DID NOT ACCUSE BRANNAN. from The Decatur Herald, November 14, 1919
[26] Sidney Gepford, Staley Museum

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Let’s use Penn State vs. Ohio State in college football as an example, with odds from DraftKings. American odds on their own. Ohio State is the perceived stronger team in this game, so the Buckeyes are the favorite at DraftKings. Based on these odds, Ohio State is expected to win about 70% of the time. Get college football odds, including point spreads, moneylines and over/unders, from the best online sportsbooks so you always get the best lines. Ohio State Buckeyes. Stats Schedule Roster Tickets. Penn State Nittany Lions Heather Dinich and Paul Finebaum discuss the possibility that college football might delay the start of the season With an active and engaged sports fan base here in Ohio, sports betting is anticipated to generate between $37 million to $60 million in annual tax revenue, making Ohio one of the largest markets No. 8 Ohio State is going to need a few statement wins to make up the ground it lost in the 2018 College Football Playoff rankings when it lost to Purdue earlier this season. On Saturday, the

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