The Milwaukee Badgers were a professional American football team, based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that played in the National Football League from 1922 to 1926. The team played its home games at Athletic Park, later known as Borchert Field, on Milwaukee's north side. The team was notable for having many African-American players for the time.
The Milwaukee Badgers were founded by two Chicago sporting promoters, Joe Plunkett and Ambrose McGuirk. The pair saw the city as a great prospect for a professional football club. In order to create a team that could compete immediately in the early National Football League, the men scoured the East Coast college ranks, signing multiple All-Americans in hopes of building a team of all-stars that could rival the Green Bay Packers for state supremacy. The team's first major signing was Fritz Pollard, who had been a player-coach the previous year for the Akron Pros. Pollard was also the first black man to coach whites in American professional sports. Two other African-Americans played for the Badgers in 1922, Paul Robeson and Duke Slater.
After the team folded following the 1926 season (largely due to being left broke because of a $500 fine by the NFL for using four high-school players in a 1925 game against the Chicago Cardinals, a game arranged after the Badgers had disbanded for the season), many of its members played for the independent semi-pro Milwaukee Eagles. Some of the players from this team went on to play for the NFL's Pittsburgh Pirates in 1933. This has led some to mistakenly believe that either the Badgers or Eagles became the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Milwaukee market is now claimed by the Green Bay Packers, who played three or four regular season games there from 1933–94, including the 1939 NFL Championship Game. The Packers still reserve two games a season for their old Milwaukee season ticket holders, and have their flagship radio station there as well.