The Strong Museum football display features the Rochester Jeffersons

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Strong National Museum of Play is opening a new display to honor football in Western New York — including the Rochester Jeffersons.

The display, housed in its America at Play exhibit, invites guests to compare gear from the Jeffersons, who wore minor madding and a thin leather helmet, to that of the Buffalo bills today, who have more protective pads and helmets.

The display also features a 1919 program cover for a game between the Jeffersons and Buffalo Prospects, a 1993 Wheaties box signed by the Bills team and much more.

“Football has been amount America’s favorite pastimes for more than a century,” Christopher Bensch, The Strong’s vice president for collections, said in a statement.

“Few people know that this playful activity has early roots in the Rochester area, though, and that the city fielded a professional team until 1925. With the NFL celebrating 100 years, it only seems fitting to share this history and honor the legacy of the Rochester Jeffersons.”

The Jefferson items are on loan from John Steffenhagen, the great-grandson of team owner Leo Lyons.

“My great grandfather played for the Rochester Jeffersons and then went on to become the coach, manager and eventually owner — all by the age of 28,” Steffenhagen said.

“The items in this display were passed down to me through my family, and I’m glad that thousands of people will have the ability to see them at The Strong and rediscover this often forgotten piece of Rochester’s history.”

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