Semi-pro football teams come and go every season. Some are not able to even finish their first season. There is not a good stable reputation for semi-pro football teams. As I was looking at various teams, I wondered which team has existed the longest. I found that the Watertown Red & Black from Watertown, New York is the longest active semi-pro football team in the United States. The team was founded in 1896 and over the years they have a record of 565-268-43 and have played the most games (876).
The Red & Black haven’t been overwhelmingly successful on the field with just a win percentage of .670 and have only won league championships twice in their history (1980 and 2009) but they have had a remarkable Green Bay-like attachment to the community.
The team has had periods of being in hiatus over their 120 years from 1909-12, 1930-31, 1943-45, 1952-53 and 1961-68 but the team always came back due to its deep roots in the community where players have a chance to continue playing the game they love after their high school or college careers have ended. The local military base, Fort Drum, has also supplied players for soldiers who were in between deployments or just an outlet from the routine of military life.
In 2007 they lost one of their coaches during a deployment in Iraq. Four other players returned home from Iraq and played in the championship game for the Red & Black.
The team has been a member of the Empire Football League since 1969. They have wrapped up the regular season at 6-4 and will host the Carthage Revolution in a non-league game before they enter the league playoffs.