The Buffalo Indians were a professional American football team that competed in the third American Football League in 1940 and in 1941. The team played its home games in Civic Stadium in Buffalo, New York. Owned by the Buffalo American Legion, the Indians were managed by Earl "Red" Seick, who was also player-coach for the team for the first five games in 1940 (he was replaced by Orlando Nesmith for the rest of the season). While most of the AFL membership focused on raiding the rosters of the local members of the National Football League teams, the Indians (which did not have a local NFL competitor) concentrated on signing local talent, castoffs from the NFL, and men who played in the defunct second American Football League.
Featuring the running talents of halfback Carl Littlefield, the Indians struggled to a 2-8 record in 1940 (having been shut out four times and forfeited one game; they also won one game by forfeit) and finished in fifth place. The club was reorganized in early 1941, with a new name (Buffalo Tigers) and a new coach (Tiny Engebretsen). The changes yielded the same results once league play resumed that fall, Buffalo finishing with a 2-6 record and fourth place in the five team loop before the AFL suspended operations after the Pearl Harbor attack and the U.S. entry into World War II.
By the time the war ended, both the league and the Buffalo Tigers officially ceased to exist, but Buffalo's foray into major league football was not forgotten as the All-America Football Conference formed in 1946 with a new team, the Buffalo Bisons, being the new tenants in the newly renamed War Memorial Stadium.
The history of the Buffalo Indians begins in early 1940, with an agreement among businessmen in Buffalo, New York City, and Boston to start a new major league football league to compete with the established National Football League. At roughly the same time, a minor league calling itself the American Football League announced plans for expansion with the goal of becoming a major league itself. When the businessmen convinced the owners of the Columbus Bullies, Cincinnati Bengals and the newly minted expansion team, the Milwaukee Chiefs to join their league, the minor AFL imploded as the formation the new six-team "major league," the third "major" American Football League, was announced July 14, 1940.
The Indians were originally owned by the Buffalo American Legion, which "Red" Seick acting in the triple role of player, coach, and business manager. The team drew its players from two sources, area college stars and men who once played in the NFL and the second AFL.