By Kim Palmer
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - A team from the 1970s with the most consecutive wins in professional football history is slated to receive the first slot in the newly formed Women's Football Foundation Hall of Fame on Friday.
The Toledo Troopers, one of the country's first pro women's football teams, will be honored along with former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris, a part-time owner of the Pittsburgh Passion, a current professional women's team, at a ceremony in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
The Troopers, a group of 82 women in total, played other Midwestern teams from 1971 to 1979 and achieved a 61-4 record while amassing seven consecutive perfect seasons and world championships before the team failed financially.
The Ohio-based team was so consistently dominant that the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, recognized the Troopers in 1983 as the "winningest team in professional football history" in an exhibit. The Women's Football Foundation is so new it does not have a physical location for its Hall of Fame.
There are three professional women's football leagues in the United States, but the sport remains fairly obscure compared with more frequent television coverage of women's basketball, soccer, tennis and golf.
"As far as the Women's Football Foundation is concerned, inducting the Toledo Troopers is a no-brainer," said Guy Stout, son of the late Bill Stout who coached the Troopers, and writer of the screenplay of an upcoming feature film: "Perfect Season: The Untold Story of the Toledo Troopers."
Stout says many of the players, now ranging in age from their mid-50s to early 80s, went on to break ground in other fields, including one player who became the first female motorcycle officer in the Cleveland Police Department.
Stout said more than 100 women came to try out after the team ran an ad in the Toledo Blade back in 1970, and more than 50 women who played on the team attended a reunion last year.
"They realize they were part of something really cool now, but back then they just wanted to play football," Stout said.
(Reporting by Kim Palmer; Editing by Fiona Ortiz and Eric Beech)