The team began play in 1930 after two Brooklyn businessmen bought the Dayton Triangles for $2,500 and moved the NFL franchise to Ebbets Field. These two individuals were Bill Dwyer, a past owner of the New York Americans and Pittsburgh Pirates of the National Hockey League, and Jack Depler, a player-coach for the NFL's Orange Tornadoes. Dwyer and Depler then renamed the Triangles the Brooklyn Dodgers, borrowing the name of Brooklyn's then major league baseball team.
The 1930 Dodgers were merged with and built largely from the roster of the 1929 Tornadoes, with the Triangles' players likely being on the bench and many not being able to relocate their families during the Great Depression. The Dodgers finished fourth in the NFL with a 7–4–1 record, a massive improvement upon the Triangles' disastrous final seasons in Dayton. The high point of their season consisted of a 7–6 upset over the New York Giants at the end of November. The Dodgers star back was Jack McBride, a former Giant. He led the league in scoring with a total of 56 points in 1930. However, the 1931 season saw the Dodgers post a 2–12 record. Once the season ended, Benny Friedman was brought in as the team's new player-coach.
This old NFL franchise was not related to the earlier (second incarnation) American Football League II with a franchise that played as the Brooklyn Tigers for the first half of the 1936 season before moving to Rochester, New York and playing as the Rochester Tigers. Another NFL team that played in the Brooklyn borough was the Brooklyn Lions (which became the Brooklyn Horsemen after merging with a team from an earlier first incarnation AFL of the same name) in 1926.
In 1946, co-owner and partner Dan Topping (1912–1974) pulled the Tigers team out of the old NFL and placed it in the newly established rival professional league – the All-America Football Conference, which shortly lasted until 1949, until several stronger teams from the AAFC merged with and entered a reorganized NFL in 1950.