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Ken Crippen – Pro Football Researchers Association

October 13, 2011

Ken Crippen, Pro Football Researchers Association  (June 29,  2011):

First, can you tell us a bit about the Pro Football Researchers Association  – how it got started and it’s “mission”?

The Professional Football Researchers Association (PFRA) is a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to pro football history. We were incorporated in 1979 and currently have over 400 members in 11 countries.

What is a Pro Football Researcher exactly – and why devote an organization to this niche?

A pro football researcher is anyone dedicated to researching or writing about any aspect of pro football history.

How is the organization funded and run?

We are a membership-based organization run by both elected officials and appointed officials. These officials make up the board of directors.

How much research is done/sponsored by the association itself – or is the work done strictly by members?

The work is done by the membership and shared with the membership.
How is the research conducted – and how do the researchers decide on what history to go after in its research agenda?

Research subjects are chosen by the researcher. Any topic that is of interest to the researcher.
What part does oral history play in research and how do researchers go about collecting this?

Oral history is an important part of football history. We want to capture the stories and game accounts first-hand from the players. As the stories get passed down from generation to generation, the quality of the accounts declines.
You get into very specific areas of research – from social movements, gamebooks, uniforms, pre-NFL leagues, etc. How do you focus on each niche and what are some of the more interesting findings across these niches?

The focus on each niche depends on the interest of the researchers doing the work. For example, the uniforms committee has provided graphical representations of all team uniforms from 1933 through 1958.

The social movements committee has focused on racial integration within pro football. The pre-NFL committee has discovered previously unknown teams.

What is some of the more interesting research done on Steelers teams via your association or it’s members?

Matt Algeo’s book “Last Team Standing” on the Steagles was interesting. We have also written on the swapping of franchises between the Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles. We have also covered various players and moments from their Super Bowl championships in the 1970s.

How can that research be seen by fans?

The best way to see the research is by visiting our website: or by becoming a member to receive our bi-monthly magazine “The Coffin Corner.” Instructions on how to become a member are located on our website.
You have developed your own Hall of Very Good for football researchers – can you tell readers more about this – who is nominated, by whom and how it’s voted on?

The Hall of Very Good was started in 2003 and was designed to honor players who had excellent careers, but were not in the Hall of Fame.

However, some of our inductees have gone on to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Each year, our membership submits five names for consideration for that year’s class. Once those names are received, a committee of nine whittles it down to the top twenty players. From there, the twenty names are submitted to our membership for a vote. The top vote-getters will be inducted into the class for that year, with a minimum and maximum class size, as well as a minimum percentage of the votes received.

Any other thoughts for readers?

Visit our website ( to learn more about the PFRA.

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