Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and Buffalo Bills legend Darryl Talley announced NFL draft picks Saturday. It was carried live on the NFL Network.
It was all part of an effort honor the NFL’s roots in Rochester
Leo Lyons was born in Fairport in 1892. By the age of 16 he fell for football. He joined the Rochester Jeffersons, a semi-pro team, which was named after Jefferson Avenue, where they played on sandlots.
Leo’s grandson John Steffenhagen was at the big NFL Draft party in Rochester Saturday at Cornhill Landing, and said his grandfather was ambitious.
“A couple of years later, he took over as manager and coach and owner of the team. Got them uniforms. He would pluck the best players in Rochester to form the Jeffersons into a top team, Steffenhagen said.
Players like Henry McDonald. McDonald was a Canandaigua Academy grad. He was also one of the first black men to play professional football.
Mayor Warren was thrilled to have national eyes on Rochester on Saturday during that NFL Network broadcast of the football draft.
“For the NFL to come here and highlight the Jeffersons one of the original teams is so exciting but to also be able to announce the Buffalo Bills draft pick is even more exciting for our city and just highlights the great things that we have going on here,” Warren said.
It’s all a part of NFL 100, a celebration of all things football including the original 14 franchises. The Rochester Jeffersons played in the NFL from 1920 to 1925.
The Rochester Jeffersons played for over a quarter century and was one of the NFL’s original 14 teams. It disbanded in 1925.
The league is working with the city to donate at least one five-figure grant to youth football or health related programs in Rochester. No word yet on who gets the money.