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Pudge Heffelfinger becomes first pro football player

This week in Histoty - 1892: On November 12, 1892, William “Pudge” Heffelfinger becomes the first professional football player when Pittsburgh’s Allegheny Athletic Association pays him $500 to play as a ringer in a game against its rival Pittsburgh Athletic Club. Before Heffelfinger, players had traded their services on the field for expense money, “double expenses,” or trinkets that players could pawn back to the team–but no one had ever openly accepted a cash payment to play football. (Baseball, on the other hand, had been frankly professional for almost 25 years.) For his part, Heffelfinger never acknowledged that he’d taken the payment. He went on to become a prominent insurance executive and congressman from Minnesota.

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