A nameless professional American football team, based in Syracuse, New York and generically known as the Syracuse Pros or Syracuse Eleven, was once thought to have joined the American Professional Football Association (now the National Football League (NFL) for the 1921 season. The team was coached by Mike Purdy and managed by Andy Friedman. Syracuse University multi-sport standout John Barsha was the team's franchise player.
An article posted in the Professional Football Researchers Association journal Coffin Corner in 1991 considered the fact that Syracuse said they were in the league as sufficient evidence to say they were, claiming that since professional football was not that popular at the time, the team had nothing to gain from lying about their status (even though the team's announcement trumpeted the ability to play "the top teams in the country;" this hypothesis also does not take into account the possibility of the team being turned down for league membership, or dropping out before the season started).
This hypothesis has not been accepted in modern times. The National Football League itself does not consider Syracuse to have been a member of the league in its official league records. Research centered on the Tonawanda Kardex suggests that the team was still known as All-Syracuse, an independent team, and it is sometimes said that the Rochester Jeffersons only won two games against NFL opponents in their existence, against Tonawanda and the Columbus Panhandles—even though Rochester beat Syracuse in 1921. The game is counted in Syracuse's records but not Rochester's. A third game, against the Washington Senators, was also played against a league opponent.
No record of the league admitting a team from Syracuse to the league or removing them from the league exists; only a statement from the team itself says it was (and even that uses the erroneous name "National Professional Football Association", in 1921 it was the American Professional Football Association and changed its name to the National Football League in 1922). Only the Chicago Tigers, who played seven games against NFL teams during the 1920 NFL season, have been generally recognized as league members without having formally been admitted to or removed from the league. (A few teams, such as the New York Brickley Giants, have either admission or removal records missing, but not both.) At least one team, that year's runner-up Buffalo All-Americans, refused to recognize their membership and canceled two games against them, and possibly pressured the Akron Pros into canceling a game against Syracuse as well.