The Philadelphia Athletics were a professional American football team based in Philadelphia in 1902. The team was member of what was referred to as the National Football League. This league has no connection with the National Football League of today. The whole "league" was a curious mixture of baseball and football. During the league's only year in existence, two of the three teams that were financed by the owners of the Philadelphia Athletics and the Philadelphia Phillies, hence the names Philadelphia Athletics and Philadelphia Phillies. The Pittsburgh Stars made up the third team and was suspected of being financed by the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team.
The Athletics began as a part of the baseball wars between the National League and the new American League that began in 1901. In Philadelphia, the AL's Athletics lured several of the NL's Phillies from their contracts, only to lose them again through court action. When Phillie owner John Rogers decided to start a football team, the Athletics followed suit. A's owner Ben Shibe fielded a team made-up of several baseball players as well as some local football talent. He appointed his baseball manager Connie Mack as the team's general manager and named former Penn player, Charles "Blondy" Wallace as the team's coach. Each Philadelphia team was named after their respective baseball clubs and became the Philadelphia Athletics and Philadelphia Phillies.
However both Rogers and Shibe knew that to lay claim to the World Championship, they had to play a team from Pittsburgh, which was the focal point of football at the time. They called upon Dave Berry, pro football promoter, and a Pittsburgh team was soon formed. These three teams are all that made up the first NFL.
Upon hiring Wallace as coach of team, Shibe primarily put Mack in the manager position to watch over Wallace. Mack wasn't an expert on football, but he had always been careful with Shibe's money and his sports teams. Nevertheless, Wallace began signing the best football talent available. The Phillies had a headstart, but A's soon caught up until Philadelphia rosters began to look like a "Who's Who of Phialdelphia Football talent".