The Akron Pros were a professional football team that played in Akron, Ohio, from 1908 to 1926. The team originated in 1908 as a semi-pro team named the Akron Indians, but later became Akron Pros in 1920 as the team set out to become a charter member of the American Professional Football Association (later renamed the National Football League (NFL) in 1922). Fritz Pollard, the first black head coach in the NFL, co-coached the Akron Pros in 1921
Prior to 1908, several semi-pro and amateur teams dominated the Akron football scene. The most dominant of these was a team known as the Akron East Ends. The East Ends' dominance of Ohio football went unmatched until the Massillon Tigers paid several ringers from the recently disbanded Pittsburgh Stars to defeat the East Ends in 1903.
The Akron Indians date as far back as 1908. The early Indians teams went on to win Ohio League championships in 1908, 1909, 1913 and 1914. The team was always referred to as the Indians by the fans. From 1908 to 1913, the Indians had a reputation of playing more of a style of football seen at the college level than that of the early athletic clubs. For example, the Indians preferred passing the ball as opposed to running.
Before the 1912 season, Peggy Parratt, an early football star with the Massillon Tigers, Franklin Athletic Club and the Shelby Blues, joined the Indians. He made the move after realizing that he could make more money in the large football market that Akron provided. When he arrived in Akron, his first move was to change the team name from the "Akron" Indians to "Parratt's Indians". With Peggy as player, coach, and owner-manager, the Indians split their series with Shelby and twice defeated Canton, 14–7 and 19–7. However, they were defeated by the unheard of Elyria Athletics, who then took the Ohio championship. The Athletics were mostly former Blues players who formed a team in Elyria after Parratt left for Akron.
The following season, Parratt brought most of Elyria's 1912 championship team to Akron, and adding them to his roster. The Indians then beat Shelby and Elyria. They also managed to tie the rapidly improving Canton Pros. During the Indians' championship game against Shelby, the Blues loaded their team with a collection of famous players from big eastern schools and supported each member with a payroll of $700 for just that one game. However, the game was cancelled due to snowstorm. A week later when the Blues returned to Akron, the Indians were prepared with newly recruited talent that was viewed as even superior to that of Shelby's. The Indians won the game 20–0 and brought the Ohio title back to Akron.
For his 1914 recruiting efforts, Parratt signed the usual big-name players, which consisted of a lineup that changed from week to week, with just enough stars on hand to guarantee a win. However, in 1914, he also employed several former Notre Dame stars, including the legendary Knute Rockne, Howard "Horse" Edwards, "Deke" Jones, and Joe Collins, as well as several Ohio collegiate stars like Ed Kagy, Dwight Wertz, Homer Davidson, Dutch Powell, Frank Nesser, and Ralph "Fat" Waldsmith. By late season, the entire left side of his Akron Indian line was from Notre Dame. The team dominated the Ohio League for the season. However, it managed to lose to Canton 6–0 on November 15, 1914. Despite the win, Canton's captain Harry Turner died when his spine broke during a tackle on Akron fullback Joe Collins. Turner's death marked the first fatal accident involving a major professional football team in Ohio.
To avoid an Akron title in 1915 the owners of the Massillon Tigers raided Parratt's Akron roster and took away many of his star players. Canton manager Jack Cusack also picked up some former Akron players and signed Jim Thorpe to his renamed Canton Bulldogs team. By the end of the season, Parratt's team was made up mostly of Akron sandlotters. After the disastrous 1915 season, Parratt returned to Cleveland, where he took some of his former Akron players and a few ex-collegians and formed a respectable team, which he named the Cleveland Tigers.