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Could the City of Columbus ever be home to an NFL team?

Rodney - columbus panhandler football 2.jpg
Back in 1901, the Columbus Panhandles were founded by railroad workers playing in the Ohio League, later becoming charter members of the American Professional Football Association which became the National Football League. (file - WSYX/WTTE)

Central Ohio has a rich history when it comes to football. Not only are we home to one of the best college football programs in the country with Ohio State, but some of the best high school teams as well. It begs the question, with so many diehard fans could the NFL work here in Columbus? With two pro teams here in the state already, would it even be feasible?

Plenty of fans might tell you that Columbus already has a pro team. More than a hundred thousand packed Ohio Stadium each and every game day. But, what about Sundays? Is there enough passion? Would Columbus be a good NFL market? If history is any indication, maybe so.

The city of Columbus is certainly no rookie when it comes to pro ball. Back in 1901, the Columbus Panhandles were founded by railroad workers playing in the Ohio League, later becoming charter members of the American Professional Football Association which became the National Football League. In fact, the Panhandles are credited with playing in the first NFL game against another NFL opponent. Now that you know the history, let's pick things up today.

Columbus is one of the fastest growing cities in the country. Signs of progress and a booming population are all around. Plenty of folks around town are fans of the pigskin.

It's no secret this is a Buckeye town. Could the NFL thrive here as well? Despite Ohio already having two NFL clubs in the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals, it wasn't long ago the Bleacher Report listed Columbus as one of the top 10 possible spots for NFL expansion.

"People in the Midwest love football. In Ohio, it's a religion. Sunday's aren't just for church," said former Buckeye and NFL player Jay Richardson.

Richardson believes Columbus has all the ingredients to be a great pro city. But it's the NBA, not the NFL he believes would take off here.

"The NBA's brand is global. They're looking to get their footprints in as many markets as they can. Columbus is a very big market now. It's growing very fast and I think the NBA commissioner Silver would love to have some representation here in the Midwest and specifically Columbus, Ohio," said Richardson.

It's not the first time that idea has come up. While in office, former mayor Michael Coleman pushed for an NBA club, expressing his wishes to the league's commissioner.

"Really when you talk about a pro football team, it's going to put the fans in a position where you've got to make a decision," said Richardson.

As the capital city continues to blossom and the desire for more family activities and sporting events continues to grow, this will no doubt be a topic of discussion.

Who knows, football fans here in Columbus may someday be able to root on the hometown NFL team on Sundays.

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