The Grave of Joe F. Carr
by Randy Snow
Original to www.theworldoffootball.com, Friday, July 26, 2019
You may not be familiar with the name of Joe F. Carr, but he had a very significant influence on the course of the NFL during the early years of the league.
When the NFL was founded in 1920, the great Jim Thorpe was selected to be the first league president. This was more of a ceremonial position as the league was simply trying to gain immediate credibility through his name and stature in the sports world, especially in football.
But in 1921, a new president was selected, Joe F. Carr. Carr was the manager of the Columbus Panhandles, one of the original 14 teams in the NFL in 1920. He had been with the Panhandles since 1907 and was a great sports promoter who believed in strict adherence to the rules.
He is credited with establishing the first standard player contract and discouraging teams from signing college players under assumed names who were still in college.
Carr also had a vision that, if the league was going to be successful, it needed to have teams in large cities like New York, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia as opposed to Akron, Canton and Muncie.
In his eyes, it didn’t matter who you were, if you broke the rules, you were going to pay the price. In early 1922, Carr found out that the Green Bay Packers had signed ineligible college players under assumed names. He saw to it that the Packers were removed from the of the NFL. The Packers had to reapply to join the NFL again and were accepted back in June after paying a $500 franchise fee.
After the Chicago Bears signed Red Grange the day after his last college football game in 1925, Carr instituted what has become known as “The Grange Rule.” It stated that no team will sign a college player in the same year that he has played college football.
1925 also saw Carr rule in the case of the Pottsville Maroons. The Maroons finished the 1925 season with a 10-2 record in league games and should have been crowned league champions that year. However, Carr had repeatedly warned the Maroons not to play an exhibition game against a team of Notre Dame All-Stars in Philadelphia at the end of the season. This was a violation of league rules against games being played in another NFL team’s territory. In this case, Philadelphia was part of the territory owned by the Frankfurt Yellow Jackets. The Maroons ignored the warnings and played the game anyway, beating the All Stars 9-7. Carr stripped the 1925 NFL title from the Maroons and awarded it to the second place Chicago Cardinals. The Pottsville team was also removed from the league and fined $500. They had to reapply to rejoin the league the following year.
In 1933, Carr established the East and West Divisions in the NFL to ensure that there would be a championship game between the division winners each year. He also established the NFL Draft in 1936. Carr even created the NFL’s first constitution and by-laws and wrote the league’s first-ever Record and Fact Book.
Carr was the president of the NFL for 19 years, from 1921 until his death in 1939 at the age of 59. He was inducted with the inaugural 1963 class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Others in that charter class include Jim Thorpe, Ernie Nevers, Bronko Nagurski, Red Grange, Curly Lambeau, George Halas and Dutch Clark.
To Find His Grave
Carr is buried in the St. Joseph Cemetery, just south of Columbus, OH. The address is 6440 High Street, in the town of Lockbourne, OH. The sections of the cemetery are clearly marked as you drive around the paved streets within the cemetery. Carr is buried in the St. Agnes Section. His headstone is hard to miss because of its size. Ten other family members names are also included on his headstone including his wife Josephine, son Joe, Jr.
Also buried in the same cemetery as Carr is the 1950 Heisman Trophy winner Vic Janowicz, a halfback from Ohio State. He is located in the Assumption Section of the cemetery. Janowicz was selected in the seventh round of the 1952 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, but instead of signing with the Redskins, he initially pursued a career in professional baseball.
After college, he spent a couple of seasons playing Major League Baseball with the Pittsburgh Pirates, with minimal success. He eventually did sign with the Redskins and played for Washington in 1954 and 1955. He was the Redskins starting halfback in 1955. In 1956, he was partially paralyzed in an auto accident, which ended his playing career. Janowicz passed away in 1996 at the age of 66.