Sunday, January 21, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Women's pro football timeline

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The Women's Professional Football League has dibs on hosting the first Women's Super Bowl, but the league isn't first at attempting to have women don 30 pounds of equipment and attack each other in the name of football. Here's a look back at the sport's history:


An NFL team called the Frankfort (Pa.) Yellow Jackets employs a women's team for halftime entertainment.


Cleveland talent agent Sid Friedman starts a women's semipro tackle football league as a "gimmick." The two-team barnstorming effort in Akron and Cleveland is called the Women's Professional Football League and grows to include three more cities in Ohio and teams in Pennsylvania and New York.


Patricia Barzi Palinkas makes history becoming the first woman to play on a men's semipro team, the Orlando Panthers.


Friedman's WPFL folds.


The National Women's Football League starts. The league's charter teams are the Dallas Bluebonnets, Fort Worth Shamrocks, Columbus Pacesetters, Toledo Troopers, Los Angeles Dandelions, California Mustangs and Detroit Demons.


Linda Jefferson, a running back for the Toledo Troopers, is named Women's Sports magazine's Athlete of the Year. Her career went on to include five 1,000-yard seasons.


The NWFL grows to three divisions with 14 teams. The Philadelphia Queen Bees, Oklahoma City Dolls, Houston Her-ricanes and Pasadena Roses are among the expansion teams. In August 1976, the Dolls hand the previously undefeated Troopers their first loss, 14-8. The teams meet again in the first NWFL championship which Toledo wins, but after reviewing game film, a PAT is declared no good and the game ends in a 13-13 tie for the only title.


Disgruntled Los Angeles Dandelion owner Russell Molzahn breaks the Western Division away from the NWFL and starts the Western States Women's Professional Football League (WSWPFL). Some of the six teams: Tucson Wild Kittens, Phoenix Cowgirls and Hollywood Stars. The league forms because the NWFL wanted to limit intersectional play because of travel constraints.


The Oklahoma City Dolls fold in hopes of starting again in 1982, but don't.


The Toledo Troopers, who were 39-1-1 from 1971-1976, fold because of financial problems.


The entire Southern Division of the NWFL folds because only two teams remain.


The American Football Verband Deutschland (American Football Association of Germany) forms and is currently being run by the German Games Organization with the mantra of "committing attempted murder in the act of gaining 10 yards." It's a 10-team league, including the Hamburg Maniacs and Hanau Witches, culminating in the Ladies Bowl.


The Western Australian Football League forms. Today there are seven teams, including the Innaloo Piranhas, . UWA Unicorns and Warnbro Swans.


The NWFL, which by this time only has teams in Ohio and Michigan, folds because of financial constraints.


The dismantled NWFL divides into two new organizations: the Toledo-based NWFL and the Women's Tackle Football Association in Grand Rapids. Some teams get out of the business, however, to take up flag/touch football.


The NWFL wants a resurgence under the slogan "Women ... It's Time That We Get A Chance At This Game!" but nothing materializes.


Owners Terry Sullivan and Carter Turner, both veterans of minor-league football operations, launch the Women's Professional Football League (WPFL). Charter barnstorming teams are the Minnesota Vixens and Michigan Minx.


In January, the WPFL holds an exhibition game at the NFL's Super Bowl. The game is played on the NFL Experience's grounds and although the field is shorter, the women impress fans that pack the small bleachers and stand around the field to watch.


The WPFL kicks off its first season in October with 11 teams from New York to Florida, Texas and Oregon. After five games, though, the league slips financially and has to rework its schedule to wrap up an expected 12-week season to nine, including a championship game.


In December, a Colorado real estate broker named Larry Perry steps in to purchase 50.5 percent of the league and vows the second season will be run on more stable financial ground, starting with a $1 million budget.


The WPFL played its first championship game yesterday, dubbed the Women's Super Bowl although the name Super Bowl is an NFL trademark.


This spring, Nashville-based league owner Catherine Masters hopes to launch another National Women's Football League. Organized teams are in Nashville, Alabama and Philadelphia.

Sources: WPFL, the NFL Hall of Fame Library and the Queens of the Gridiron.


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