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1950 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 16, 1950 - December 10, 1950
American Conf. Champions Cleveland Browns
National Conf. Champions Los Angeles Rams
Championship Game
Champions Cleveland Browns
National Football League seasons
 < 1949 1951 > 

The 1950 NFL season was the 31st regular season of the National Football League. The merger with the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) expanded the league to 13 teams. Meanwhile, television brought a new era to the game. The Los Angeles Rams became the first NFL team to have all of its games - both home and away - televised. The Washington Redskins became the second team to put their games on TV. Other teams arranged to have selected games televised.

Contents

The AAFC–NFL merger

The NFL and the AAFC merged prior to the season. Three AAFC teams — Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, and Baltimore Colts — joined the NFL intact. The players of the former AAFC New York Yankees team were divided up between the New York Giants and the New York Bulldogs (who changed their name to New York Yanks), the Los Angeles Dons and Los Angeles Rams merged, and a portion of the AAFC Buffalo Bills was absorbed into the Browns organization. A special draft was then held by the league's 13 teams to allocate the rest of the AAFC players.

The 13 teams were realigned into the American and National conferences. The merged league briefly flirted with the name "National-American Football League", but restored the name "National Football League" a few months later.

The merger allowed the former 4-time AAFC champion Browns, the 49ers, and the Colts to survive. Without the agreement, those teams along with the entire AAFC would have folded due to financial difficulties. Instead, the Browns went on to defeat the Rams in the NFL Championship Game.

Also, the 1950 season saw the first effort by the league to play games outside the United States when the New York Giants traveled north to face the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Interprovincial Rugby Football Union (later to become a part of the Canadian Football League) in an exhibition match on August 12. The Giants and Rough Riders would repeat the feat in 1951; the Giants handily won both games.

Under the alignment, both conferences had a New York and a Chicago team. The "American Conference" (formerly the Eastern Division) had six teams including the Giants and the Cardinals, and the "National Conference" (the old Western Division) had seven teams including the Yanks and the Bears, as well as the Baltimore Colts. Except for Baltimore, each team played a home-and-away game against the other five teams in their conference, and two games outside the conference, in a 12 game schedule. Baltimore, a "swing team", played one game against each of the other 12 NFL clubs. Over a 13 week season, one team was idle each week while the other 12 met in the six scheduled games.

Major rule changes

  • The free substitution rule (any or all of the players may be replaced by substitutes after any play) was restored on a permanent basis. This change paved the way for player specialization in pro football, including three separate units for each team: offensive team, defensive team, and special teams.
  • If a backwards pass or fumble goes out of bounds before it is recovered, the team that had control of the ball last maintains possession.

Regular season highlights

Week One The opening game of the 1950 NFL season was a matchup between the defending champions of the AAFC and the NFL, the Cleveland Browns and the Philadelphia Eagles, respectively. The teams had never met prior to September 16, 1950, and a crowd of 71,237 turned out in Philadelphia. The Browns won 35-10. In Week Three (October 1), the New York Giants handed the Browns their first shutout ever, winning 6-0 in Cleveland while grounding Otto Graham's passing attack. In Week Five (October 15), the Steelers beat the Giants 17-6 at the Polo Grounds, knocking them out of the American Conference lead. The other New York team, the Yanks, had a share of the lead in the National Conference after a 29-24 win in Yankee Stadium over the 49ers, but only 5,740 fans turned out to watch. The Browns-Giants rematch took place on October 22 in Week Six in New York, and the Giants won again, 17-13. In the west, the Colts scored four touchdowns against the Rams, but the Rams had ten in a 70-27 blowout. L.A. had a 65-24 win over Detroit in Week Seven (October 29), which saw the Eagles reclaim the lead in their conference with a 35-3 win over Washington and the Giants' 17-3 loss to the Cardinals. In the other New York-Chicago game, the Yanks raised their record to 6-1-0 with a 38-27 win over the Bears. The Yanks were idle in Week Eight (November 6), in which field goals played a prominent role. Pittsburgh's Joe Geri booted all the points in the Steelers' 9-7 win over the Eagles, and the Giants' Ray Poole made a 40 yard kick with 0:04 left to beat Washington 24-21. The Browns regained the lead of the American conference in a 10-7 win over the Cards, with the margin being a Lou Groza field goal. In Week Nine (November 13), the New York Yanks lost their rematch with the Bears, 28-20, putting both teams at 6-2, while the Rams took the lead in the National with a 45-7 win over Green Bay. Meanwhile, former AAFC teams Cleveland and San Francisco met for the first time in the NFL, with the Browns winning 34-17 to stay in front in the American. A crowd of 42,673 turned out at Yankee Stadium to watch the New York Yanks, who lost to the Rams 43-35 in Week Ten (November 20), as L.A. and Cleveland kept their leads. The big game of Week Eleven on November 27 was in Chicago, where the Bears took a 24-0 lead over the Rams on the way to a 24-14 win, and a half game lead (8-2 vs. 8-3) over them in the National Conference. Cleveland had a bye week, and the Giants 7-3 win over the Eagles tied them with the Browns in the American, with 8-2 records.

On December 3, 1950, all six of the Week Twelve games had significance. Taunted as a team that couldn't win a game without passing, the Cleveland Browns won again against the Eagles, 13-7, this time without Otto Graham attempting a pass. There were 17 punt returns, 12 by Philadelphia, both records. In New York, George Taliaferro had a record 8 kickoff returns for the Yanks in a 51-7 loss to the Giants. Both the Browns and Giants stayed tied in the American Conference with records of 9-2-0. Bill Dudley of Washington returned a punt 96 yards for a touchdown in a 24-7 win over the Steelers. In the National Conference, Cloyce Box of Detroit had 302 yards receiving, one yard short of the NFL record, in a 45-21 win over Baltimore. Tom Fears had an NFL record 18 pass receptions for the Rams in a 51-14 win over Green Bay and a 9-3-0 record to lead the division. Meanwhile, the Bears were upset by the crosstown Cardinals, 20-10, dropping them to 8-3-0, a half game behind L.A. In the final week, Week Thirteen, the Browns, Giants and Bears were all in must-win situations, while the Rams had finished their season at 9-3-0. The Bears, at 8-3-0, were tied 3-3 with the Lions after three quarters. George Blanda booted a 22 yard field goal and Chicago held on for a 6-3 win to give them a 9-3-0 record and a tie for the American Conference title with the Rams. The Browns and Giants were both at 9-2-0, and both were playing on the road. Cleveland handled Wshington 45-21, while the Giants had to fight off numerous drives by Philadelphia to protect a 9-7 win. With ties for first place in both conferences, the NFL title game had to be delayed a week while an unprecedented four team playoff took place. The Giants and Browns would meet in Cleveland, while the Bears and the Rams would meet in Los Angeles.

Conference races

Week NATIONAL AMERICAN
1 3 teams (CHI. Bears, DET, NYY) 1-0-0 3 teams (CLE, NYG, WAS) 1-0-0
2 Tie (Bears, Lions) 2-0-0 CLEVELAND BROWNS 2-0-0
3 4 teams (Bears, Det., GB, L.A.) 2-1-0 NEW YORK GIANTS 2-0-0
4 3 teams (Bears, DET, NYY) 3-1-0 NEW YORK GIANTS 3-0-0
5 Tie (Bears, Yanks) 4-1-0 CLEVELAND BROWNS 4-1-0
6 NEW YORK YANKS 5-1-0 2 teams (Giants, Phi.) 4-1-0
7 NEW YORK YANKS 6-1-0 PHILADELPHIA EAGLES 5-1-0
8 NEW YORK YANKS 6-1-0 CLEVELAND BROWNS 6-2-0
9 LOS ANGELES RAMS 7-2-0 CLEVELAND BROWNS 7-2-0
10 LOS ANGELES RAMS 8-2-0 CLEVELAND BROWNS 8-2-0
11 CHICAGO BEARS 8-2-0 Tie (Browns, Giants) 8-2-0
12 LOS ANGELES RAMS 9-3-0 Tie: (Browns, Giants) 9-2-0
13 Tie: (Bears, Rams) 9-3-0 Tie: (Browns, Giants) 10-2-0

Final standings

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

Note: The NFL did not officially count tie games in the standings until 1972

American Conference
Team W L T PCT PF PA
Cleveland Browns 10 2 0 .833 310 144
New York Giants 10 2 0 .833 268 150
Philadelphia Eagles 6 6 0 .500 254 141
Pittsburgh Steelers 6 6 0 .500 180 195
Chicago Cardinals 5 7 0 .417 233 287
Washington Redskins 3 9 0 .250 232 326
National Conference
Team W L T PCT PF PA
Los Angeles Rams 9 3 0 .750 466 309
Chicago Bears 9 3 0 .750 279 207
New York Yanks 7 5 0 .583 366 367
Detroit Lions 6 6 0 .500 321 285
Green Bay Packers 3 9 0 .250 244 406
San Francisco 49ers 3 9 0 .250 213 300
Baltimore Colts 1 11 0 .083 213 462


Playoffs

Home team in capitals

American Conference Playoff Game

  • CLEVELAND 8, N.Y. Giants 3

National Conference Playoff Game

  • LOS ANGELES 24, Chi. Bears 14

NFL Championship Game

  • CLEVELAND 30, Los Angeles 28

References

  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 1941-1950 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
  • 1950 season in details
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
1950 NFL Season
American Conference National Conference
Chicago Cardinals Baltimore
Cleveland Chicago Bears
NY Giants Detroit
Philadelphia Green Bay
Pittsburgh Los Angeles
Washington NY Yanks
San Francisco
1950 NFL DraftNFL ChampionshipPro Bowl
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