Pottsville disappointed by NFL owners' vote

Updated: October 31, 2003, 5:01 PM ET

POTTSVILLE, Pa. -- They won the game, but the Pottsville Maroons still won't get the championship trophy.

People in Pottsville were disappointed to hear NFL owners voted 30-2 on Thursday against reopening the 1925 files and studying whether the NFL title should be awarded to the Maroons.

The Pottsville team beat the Chicago Cardinals that year in a game that was billed as the championship. But the Maroons later were disqualified by league president Joe Carr for playing an unauthorized exhibition game against a Notre Dame All-Star team.

Thursday's decision came despite a campaign by the city of Pottsville, a legion of supporters in Schuylkill County, and lobbying by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

The NFL said it will award Pottsville the Daniel Reeves Pioneer Award in Canton, Ohio, in August in recognition of Pottsville's role as one of the NFL's pioneer communities.

"The award is just something to keep us quiet," said Nicholas A. Barbetta, chairman of the Pottsville Maroons Memorial Committee. "It's like winning a brand new car, then they turn around and give you a broken down bicycle."

A resolution issued by NFL owners stated that "the membership recognizes that the 1925 Pottsville Maroons were a championship caliber NFL team, appreciates the city of Pottsville's pioneer support of the NFL since the earliest days of professional football, and understands the continuing belief of Pottsville's citizens that the city be recognized as the home of the 1925 champions."

"It was a championship caliber team that ran into an unfortunate conflict with the league's rules," NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said. "At this late date, it was impossible to overturn."

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney and Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie cast the lone votes in favor of the Maroons' request.

Pottsville leaders said they were disappointed.

"We thought the NFL would embrace the opportunity to right such a grievous injustice. It's a sad day for a community that has waited long enough to claim its place in the annals of football history," said Ian H. Lipton, chairman of the Pottsville Bicentennial Committee, which wanted to see the title awarded in time for the city's bicentennial in 2006.

Lipton has worked closely with Rendell in that quest.

The course of events that led to Thursday's action began in May when Rendell presented a proposal at the spring NFL meeting in Philadelphia. He suggested that the city pay a $10,000 fine in exchange for a share of the title.

Kate Phillips, Rendell's press secretary, said the governor had done some last-minute lobbying on behalf of the Maroons late Wednesday night.

"It was disheartening for the governor because he believed the Maroons deserve the recognition for their championship season," she said. "He will do all he can to help any future action to get the title back to Pottsville."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index