Quad Cities Football: Past, Present and Future

When you think football, you, of course, think Quad Cities, right? Well, maybe not, but perhaps you should!


The first NFL game was played September 26, 1920, at Douglas Park in Rock Island, IL between the Rock Island Independents and the St. Paul Ideals. Rock Island won 48-0. At the time the league was called the APFA (American Professional Football Association) and changed to the NFL in 1922.

One of the winningest teams in Division III and the only one to win four straight national championships are the Vikings of Augustana College who call Lindberg Stadium in Rock Island home. The same years (1983-1986) and team included a defensive tackle #82 named Lynn Thomsen who is the winningest college football player of all time. He started, played and didn’t lose for 50 straight games with a record of 49-0-1.

Augustana won four consecutive NCAA DIII national championships between 1983 and 1986 under Coach Bob Reade. Bottom right photo: Brad Price (#20), Troy Westerman (#6), and all time winningest college player, Lynn Thomsen (#82)

The Moline High School Maroons and Rock Island High School Rocks football teams have the longest running consecutive rivalry in the state of Illinois. These teams delight fans every season with their grit, talent and spirit on the field.

The Quad City Steamwheelers are an indoor arena football team playing at the TaxSlayer Center in Moline, IL. The team plays in the CIF or Champions Indoor Football league which is the biggest league in indoor football currently. The regular season runs February through June with a variety of special events during the season.

New in 2019 are the Quad City Nighthawks minor league football team. The Nighthawks will play an 11-man NFL style football game. Their home games will be at Augustana College’s Lindberg Stadium in Rock Island, IL.

The Annual Quad Cities Vintage football game is hosted in Rock Island each fall to commemorate the first NFL game. Players re-learn the rules and play as befits a 1920s-era game. Fans are provided handouts to explain some of the new/old rules.

Quad Cities college football: Augustana College and St. Ambrose University also offer fun football viewing. The Augustana College Vikings are a Division III NCAA team that plays in the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin and hosts home games at the Austin E. Knowlton Athletic Complex. The St. Ambrose University Fighting Bees are NAIA and play home games at the Brady Street Stadium.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the National Football League, the sixth round of the NFL draft pick takes place LIVE from the Austin E. Knowlton Outdoor Athletic Complex at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. Rock Island was selected because it is one of 13 towns that were home to the 14 inaugural teams in the NFL. Augustana College was selected because of its storied football tradition and connection with Cincinnati Bengal great and NFL MVP Kenny Anderson who graduated from Augustana.

A full day of fun events are planned including bounce houses, games and giveaways. Entry is Free and all are welcome! Other events include: A Youth Football Clinic at 12:30 p.m. and a Vintage Football Game at 2:00 p.m. Check out all the great plans at rockislanddraft.com



About the author

Meghan Cooley Meghan Cooley moved to the Quad Cities from St. Charles, IL, as an Augustana College student over 20 years ago. She left briefly after graduation and then returned to work in admissions and then marketing at Augustana College for 18 years. She now works as a consultant for admissions marketing and social media. She also does copy editing and writes for the Quad City Moms Blog. Now a true Quad Cities transplant, Meghan lives in Rock Island with her husband, Luke (R.O.W.V.A. and Augustana grad and Modern Woodmen employee) and four boys. She loves living in the Quad Cities and finds it the perfect place to raise a family, plan a date night, and go on adventures.

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