The Game that was Never Played by Mike Meyer

In 1919 professional football was nothing like it is today. Many towns had their own teams made up of local all-stars as was the case of the Arcola Independents. One team that thoroughly trounced the Independents was the Decatur Staleys, beating Arcola 41 – 0. Not ones to be outdone, a contingent of Arcola businessmen organized a rematch with the Staleys to be played in Arcola on November 30, 1919 at Lyons Field. The businessmen organized additional players by recruiting and paying college football players to supplement the local line up. These recruits included Dutch Sternaman, the star running back for the University of Illinois.

On game day, the Staley team failed to arrive from Decatur. Locals mused that the Staley team got wind of the new Arcola players and backed out of the game. AE Staley though did make it right reimbursing the Arcola businessmen for their efforts. Not lost upon AE Staley was the idea of recruiting players and in 1920 Dutch Sternaman and George Halas were charged with recruiting and playing for the Decatur Staleys, which were part of the 11 charter members of the American Professional Football Association which grew to become the NFL.

Born and raised on the frozen hockey ponds of Minnestoa, Mike Meyer still calls Mazeppa, MN home. A sign painter for over 30 years, Mike is one of the original Walldogs participating in the original meet in Allerton, IA in 1993 and ran the Mazeppa Mustard Walldog meet in his hometown. Mike is an avid Chicago Bears fan and knew within an instant after learning about the story of the Arcola Independents game against the Decatur Staleys in 1919 (forerunner to the Chicago Bears) that he had to paint the mural.