The effect of the Great Depression hit the AFA hard in the offseason between the 1930 and '31 seasons. St. Paul and Newark folded, and both the usually reliable Boston Minutemen and Philadelphia Hornets were in dire straits financially. Revenues were down all over - the New York Stars cut payroll, and unsurprisingly saw a drop-off on the field as well. Detroit, one of the league's healthier clubs financially, held firm as owner Rollie Barrell put his Finance degree to good use, while Carl Boon quietly sought - and could not find - a silent partner (or two). 

As summer wore on, the Harrisburg and Rhode Island clubs were the last of the "small" teams still afloat. The league office announced its intention to field a scaled-down ten team circuit for '31 and found a new club in the Pittsburgh Miners. The Miners, taking their name from the baseball club in the same city, were really just a re-branding of the old Pittsburgh Pros/Toledo Tigers/Pittsburgh Bulldogs franchise that had been off-and-on members of the AFA for most of the previous decade. Boon, Barrell and Brooklyn owner Dudley Townsend pressed AFA President Jack Kristich on focusing on big city teams and given the financial situation world-wide, it finally appeared they would get their wish.

Perhaps it was spite, or perhaps it was simply that they knew the other guys were better. Regardless of why, the Rhode Island Reds refused to play the Detroit Maroons at season's end. Both clubs had been amongst the strongest all season. On November 29th, the Reds defeated the Chicago Wildcats 20-13, running their record to 12-1-1. The Maroons, having played one fewer game thus far, were 12-0-1 pending a visit to Chicago to take on those same Wildcats on December 6th. If the Maroons won, as was expected (Chicago was 5-6-1), then they'd clinch the title with a 13th win. But if they lost, they'd be tied with Rhode Island at 12-1-1. And you guessed it, Carl Boon's boys played the spoiler, winning at home 24-13 to spoil Rollie Barrell's day and set up what the fans wanted all along - a "championship" game between the league's two best teams. And then Rhode Island refused to play it.

Declaring themselves "co-champions" the Reds firmly announced that due to their financial situation they couldn't afford to pay their players for another game. Rollie Barrell, sensing a ploy, offered to pay the Reds players himself. Rhode Island still refused, and Jack Kristich stepped in, admitting that Barrell could not pay another team's players while at the same time chastising Rhode Island for its refusal to play. Regardless, the Reds wouldn't budge. Kristich officially declared the Maroons to be the champions, but Rhode Island refused to accept that and even held a "championship" parade through downtown Providence.

Needless to say, Barrell was not amused and his fellow "big city clique" members Carl Boon and Dud Townsend were firmly on his side. Even Stars owner Tom Wilson, normally a champion of the "little guy" felt Rhode Island had gone too far. Those four pushed for a new rule to tighten up scheduling - and this time Kristich went along with it.

FINAL STANDINGS

Team W L T PF PA
Detroit Maroons 12 1 1 314 101
Rhode Island Reds 12 1 1 219 93
Boston Minutemen 6 2 3 104 85
Cleveland Finches 6 2 1 162 119
Chicago Wildcats 6 6 1 130 145
New York Stars 5 7 2 167 155
Harrisburg Generals 4 4 3 99 81
Philadelphia Hornets 1 7 0 37 116
Pittsburgh Miners 0 9 1 62 180
Brooklyn Kings 0 13 1 70 289

WEEKLY RESULTS

Date Visitor   Home  
13-Sep Pittsburgh Miners 0 Detroit Maroons 16
13-Sep Brooklyn Kings 0 Rhode Island Reds 13
18-Sep Pittsburgh Miners 0 Chicago Wildcats 17
20-Sep Brooklyn Kings 7 Detroit Maroons 48
23-Sep Cleveland Finches 24 Rhode Island Reds 0
26-Sep Brooklyn Kings 10 Pittsburgh Miners 10
27-Sep Chicago Wildcats 3 Detroit Maroons 27
27-Sep New York Stars 0 Boston Minutemen 16
30-Sep New York Stars 3 Rhode Island Reds 21
2-Oct Brooklyn Kings 13 Philadelphia Hornets 24
4-Oct New York Stars 21 Detroit Maroons 28
4-Oct Philadelphia Hornets 7 Boston Minutemen 14
4-Oct Brooklyn Kings 7 Harrisburg Generals 21
7-Oct Pittsburgh Miners 7 Rhode Island Reds 33
10-Oct Boston Minutemen 7 Philadelphia Hornets 3
11-Oct Harrisburg Generals 19 Brooklyn Kings 0
11-Oct New York Stars 3 Chicago Wildcats 6
11-Oct Cleveland Finches 13 Detroit Maroons 30
15-Oct Philadelphia Hornets 3 Rhode Island Reds 17
18-Oct Rhode Island Reds 20 Brooklyn Kings 0
18-Oct Cleveland Finches 13 Chicago Wildcats 9
18-Oct Philadelphia Hornets 0 Detroit Maroons 20
18-Oct Harrisburg Generals 3 New York Stars 21
18-Oct Pittsburgh Miners 0 Boston Minutemen 10
25-Oct Philadelphia Hornets 0 Chicago Wildcats 14
25-Oct Boston Minutemen 7 Detroit Maroons 7
25-Oct Brooklyn Kings 7 New York Stars 24
25-Oct Rhode Island Reds 3 Harrisburg Generals 0
31-Oct Rhode Island Reds 10 Philadelphia Hornets 0
1-Nov Cleveland Finches 28 Brooklyn Kings 7
1-Nov Detroit Maroons 17 Chicago Wildcats 0
1-Nov Rhode Island Reds 14 New York Stars 10
1-Nov Boston Minutemen 0 Harrisburg Generals 0
4-Nov Brooklyn Kings 3 Harrisburg Generals 14
8-Nov Rhode Island Reds 23 Chicago Wildcats 3
8-Nov Cleveland Finches 21 Pittsburgh Miners 13
8-Nov Harrisburg Generals 0 Detroit Maroons 10
8-Nov Philadelphia Hornets 0 New York Stars 21
8-Nov Brooklyn Kings 7 Boston Minutemen 20
11-Nov Harrisburg Generals 6 Rhode Island Reds 14
15-Nov Detroit Maroons 19 Cleveland Finches 3
15-Nov Chicago Wildcats 14 New York Stars 3
15-Nov Pittsburgh Miners 10 Rhode Island Reds 17
15-Nov Harrisburg Generals 7 Boston Minutemen 7
21-Nov Pittsburgh Miners 6 Boston Minutemen 14
22-Nov Chicago Wildcats 10 Brooklyn Kings 3
22-Nov Rhode Island Reds 14 Cleveland Finches 14
22-Nov Detroit Maroons 24 New York Stars 14
22-Nov Pittsburgh Miners 3 Harrisburg Generals 16
26-Nov Cleveland Finches 20 Chicago Wildcats 14
26-Nov Detroit Maroons 31 Boston Minutemen 6
26-Nov New York Stars 13 Harrisburg Generals 13
28-Nov Pittsburgh Miners 13 Cleveland Finches 26
29-Nov Detroit Maroons 24 Brooklyn Kings 3
29-Nov Boston Minutemen 3 New York Stars 17
29-Nov Chicago Wildcats 13 Rhode Island Reds 20
6-Dec New York Stars 14 Brooklyn Kings 3
6-Dec Detroit Maroons 13 Chicago Wildcats 24
13-Dec New York Stars 3 Chicago Wildcats 3

1931 AFA ALL-PRO TEAM

QB: Fred Robishaw, Detroit Maroons
HB: Urban Dane, Chicago Wildcats
HB: Dewey Lennon, Harrisburg Generals
FB: Sammy Pitts, Cleveland Finches
LE: Alfie Elledge, Rhode Island Reds
LT: Scott Bower, Detroit Maroons
LG: Gus Ziegler, Detroit Maroons
C: Ollie Lacey, Cleveland Finches
RG: Wayne Fisk, New York Stars
RT: Henry Ulrich, New York Stars
RE: John Danner, Detroit Maroons