Celebrating 125 Years of Brown Football

Items from the Edward North Robinson Collection of Brown Athletics and the Brown Athletic Department

This exhibit was on display at the John Hay Library from October 10, 2003 to November 7, 2003.



On October 14, 1878, the University Foot Ball Association received an invitation from its Amherst counterparts for a game. A meeting was quickly organized, held in the Hope College room of George Malcom 1879. The Amherst challenge was accepted and the date of November 13 was chosen. At the meeting, Alfred U. Eddy 1879 was elected team captain, and Malcom was named manager. Brown had no team, although informal games and interclass contests had been a part campus life since the early 1860s. A practice field was fashioned on the Back Campus (now the College Green) and regular practice began for the “Fifteen,” as they were called. Practices drew a good deal of student attention, as well as President Robinson’s cow, who was a frequent observer of the sessions.

One hundred and twenty five years later, Brown can look back at those modest beginnings which initiated a rich football history filled with legendary coaches, players, and teams. Bill Sprackling 1912, Fritz Pollard 1919, Joe Paterno 1950, Steve Jordan 1982, and Sean Morey 1999, were great stars and are representative of hundreds of outstanding players. John Heisman 1891, Edward North Robinson 1896, W. Wallace Wade 1917, DeOrmond “Tuss” McLaughry, Charles “Rip” Eagle, and John Anderson have gained fame as coaches. The 1916 Rose Bowl Team, the 1926 Iron Men, the 1932 “Cinderella” team, the “9 for 9 in 49” team, and Brown’s two modern-era Ivy League championship elevens (1976 and 1999) have thrilled Bruin fans over the decades.

From the early days of play at Adelaide Park, Lincoln Field (1892-1898), Andrews Field (1899-1924), and Brown Field (1925-present), Brown has played over 1,000 games, and has been an important contributor to the tradition of American college football. From national prominence during the period of 1910 into the early 1930s, Brown has now found its football niche in the Ivy League, playing its most time-honored opponents annually since formal play began in 1956. The Edward North Robinson Collection of Brown Athletics welcomes you to a look back at 125 years of Brown Football.