Lively Tales About Dead Teams

November 29, 1969 – Indianapolis Capitols vs. Orlando Panthers


Indianapolis Capitols vs. Orlando Panthers
Continental Football League Division Playoffs
November 29, 1969
Bush Stadium

Continental Football League Programs
52 pages


I’m posting this rare but rather dull-looking Indianapolis Capitols (1968-1970) football program today because we’re shipping it out to a collector in Indiana tomorrow and I think we’re unlikely to see one of these again.  This program was from the dying days of the Continental Football League (1965-1969), a nationwide organization that could never quite make-up its mind whether it wanted to be a rival to the AFL & NFL or a subsidized farm system for the established leagues.

For minor league football cultists this semi-final playoff game featured a dream match-up at quarterback between the young African-American signal caller for the Caps, Johnnie Walton, and Don Jonas of the Orlando Panthers.  Walton was on loan to the Caps from the Los Angeles Rams’ taxi squad.  He was the Most Valuable Player in the Continental League in 1969 and went on to a fascinating journeyman career in the NFL, WFL and USFL right up through the mid-1980’s.  You can read more about Walton in this earlier Caps article.

If anything, Jonas was even better than Walton in the Continental League.  He won three consecutive MVP awards from 1966 to 1968 and led the Panthers to the league championship game in all three seasons, winning in 1967 and 1968.  Walton finally pried the MVP award loose in 1969 and he also beat Jonas and the Panthers on this night in Indianapolis, 27-7.  The Caps went on to win the final championship of the Continental League two weeks later on December 13th, 1969, also at Bush Stadium.

The Continental Football League folded in early 1970 and both the Caps and the Panthers were instrumental in its demise, as both jumped to the lower-budgeted Atlantic Coast Football League.  Both franchises played one final season in the ACFL in 1970 before folding for good.

Jonas moved on to the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts in 1970.  In 1971 he joined the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers and had a spectacular season, passing for 4,036 yards and winning the league’s Most Outstanding Player Award.  Throughout his career, Jonas typically threw a pile of interceptions along with his gaudy yardage and touchdown stats.  1971 was no different and it’s kind of remarkable that he won Most Outstanding Player honors while throwing 31 interceptions.


2 Responses to 'November 29, 1969 – Indianapolis Capitols vs. Orlando Panthers'

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  1. The following year the Panthers would sort of make football history by having the first female football player in history. Pat Palinkas was the place holder for the Panthers, while her husband Steve was the kicker. Here is some info from her Wikipedia page:
    Palinkas’s first day of play was August 15, 1970, against the Bridgeport Jets, in front of twelve thousand fans. On her first play, Palinkas (described as a petite and curvy 5 feet 8 inches, 122 pounds with a BWH of 35-24-34) was attacked by Jets defenseman Wally Florence, who admittedly (and unsuccessfully) attempted to “break her neck” as punishment for what he perceived to be “making folly with a man’s game.” Palinkas went on to appear four more times: three consecutive successful extra point kicks, and a field goal attempt that was blocked.

    After her husband injured his leg (reducing his field goal range from 40 yards to an unacceptable 25 yards) and failed to make the preseason cut, Palinkas (after surviving a threat from ACFL Commissioner Cosmo Iacavazzi to block her contract and prevent her from playing) remained the team’s holder for a new kicker, Ron Miller, mainly because she was a draw at the box office; she lost interest in the game soon after the decision and was suspended shortly after the start of the season.

    After being placed on the Panthers’ taxi squad, Palinkas left the team, in part due to the low pay (she received $25 for each of the two preseason games in which she appeared, and was planning on demanding a greater share than the standard $100 ACFL salary had she played in any regular season games). She held an option to return to the team in 1971 but let it lapse.

    Palinkas, after her brief stint in professional football, returned to her home in Tampa, Florida to start a family and continue her career as a first grade teacher.

    My Dad told me that a woman had held field goals for a team in Orlando in the early 70’s and I was fasinated by the story. He couldn’t tell me much, but by chance the USA Network had a photo of Pat that they showed during an Orlando Thunder game. I couldn’t believe it!
    Finally years later, and thanks to Google and Wikipedia, I was able to get a better grip on the story.

    David Ziegenfuss

    5 Oct 12 at 3:28 am

  2. My dad Steve Mass played for the Akron Vulcans in 1967. I am looking for a program from the Orlando Panthers or any of the four teams that the Akron team played against in 1967. My ultimate goal is to find a roster of the Akron Vulcans

    I appreciate any help that you can offer


    Jason mass

    16 Oct 12 at 1:28 am

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