Football's History in Columbus

Football is big in Columbus. Really big. The Ohio State Buckeyes reign supreme, but the game’s history runs much deeper. Did you know the first NFL game was played in Columbus? 


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The Classic For Columbus

An HCBU rivalry game was played at Ohio Stadium in September 2021 between Kentucky State and Central State.

ESPN College GameDay

The hit college football pre-game show has been to Columbus 22 times, more than any other city.

Fast Facts

  • The NFL Headquarters were in Columbus from 1927 through 1939. The building still stands at 16 E. Broad Street.
  • More than 40,000 boys play high school football in Ohio, which is the third most of any state after Texas and California. Additionally, 191 girls played last season, which is the fifth most.
  • The Columbus Panhandles played in the first NFL game vs. the Dayton Triangles. The team was a charter member of the American Professional Football Association which later became the National Football League (NFL)
  • Six Columbus area colleges have sent players to the NFL – Ohio Dominican (1), Kenyon College (2), Otterbein (6), Denison (11), Ohio Wesleyan (14) and Ohio State (525).


Local Teams

Through 2022, the Buckeyes have 953 wins, 39 Big Ten titles and eight national championships. They've produced 10 Pro Football Hall of Famers and 525 NFL players. There's no doubt OSU is among the college football elite. In 2022, they're back in the CFP chasing another championship.

The Chaos debuted in Division 2 of the Women’s Football Alliance in 2022. Though they're the newest team in Columbus, the city has a long history in women's football. In the 1970s, the Columbus Pacesetters made history as not just a team fielded by women, but also owned by women.

Since 2000, eight central Ohio schools have taken home titles in their respective divisions. That list includes Bishop Hartley, Pickerington Central, Hilliard Davidson, Columbus Brookhaven, Bishop Watterson, the Columbus Academy, Upper Arlington and Columbus Grove.

Notable People

Joseph Francis Carr

NFL president from 1921-1939. Hugely influential in American pro sports, owned the Panhandles & worked in pro basketball and baseball.

Archie Griffin

The Ohio State running back is the only person to win the Heisman Trophy twice. A college football legend.

Woody Hayes

The long-time Ohio State coach won five national titles and is still regarded as one of the greatest college football coaches ever.

Eddie George

Heisman winner. First Round pick. Madden 2001 cover. 10,000+ rushing yards in NFL. One of the best RBs in modern NFL history.



November 1

Ohio State played its first home football game vs. the College of Wooster, losing 64-0.

October 3

The Columbus Panhandles faced the Dayton Triangles in the first NFL game, losing 14-0

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