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This is a list of National Football League (NFL) champions before the 1970 AFL–NFL merger. From 19201932, the league champion was determined by a team's win–loss percentage, with ties omitted.[1] In 1932, because of a tie in the final standings, a playoff game was played to determine the championship.[2]

In 1933, the NFL played its first official championship game.[2] On July 8, 1933, the NFL was divided into two divisions, which were renamed as conferences after 1949, and the winners of each division/conference played each other to determine the league champion.[2] This format would remain through the 1966 season. Any ties in the regular season standings resulted in a playoff game, while the winner of the other conference stood idle. This last occurred in 1965.

In 1967, the then-16-team NFL split each conference into two divisions of four teams each. From 196769, the division winners met in a conference championship game. The two conference champions then played for the NFL championship. Starting with the 1966 season, the NFL champion played the American Football League champion in what would become the Super Bowl.[1]

Since the completion of the merger in 1970, the Super Bowl has served as the NFL championship game. Unlike the Super Bowl, which is contested at a site selected years in advance, NFL championship games from 1933 to 1969 took place at the home field of one of the competing teams. Home field was not determined by record but alternated between the conferences: the East hosted the even-numbered seasons and the West the odds.

Starting with the 1934 game, the winning team received the Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy, which had replaced the Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup, the league's original championship trophy that had gone missing 13 years earlier. The trophy was named after Ed Thorp, a noted referee, rules expert, and sporting goods dealer. Thorp died in 1934, and a large, traveling trophy was made that year, passed along from champion to champion each season with each championship team's name inscribed on it (just like its predecessor). Teams would also receive a replica trophy. The trophy was last awarded to the Minnesota Vikings in 1969. It is now missing.[3]

End-of-season championships

The number in parentheses indicates the number of championships the franchise has won.

Note: From 1920–71, the NFL did not officially include tie games in the winning percentage.
Season Team Win Loss Tie Pct.
1920 Akron Pros[n 1]
8
0
3
1.000
1921 Chicago Staleys[n 2]
9
1
1
.900
1922 Canton Bulldogs
10
0
2
1.000
1923 Canton Bulldogs (2)
11
0
1
1.000
1924 Cleveland Bulldogs[n 3]
7
1
1
.875
1925 Chicago Cardinals[n 4]
11
2
1
.846
1926 Frankford Yellow Jackets
14
1
2
.933
1927 New York Giants
11
1
1
.917
1928 Providence Steam Rollers
8
1
2
.889
1929 Green Bay Packers
12
0
1
1.000
1930 Green Bay Packers (2)
10
3
1
.769
1931 Green Bay Packers (3)
12
2
0
.857
1932 Chicago Bears (2)[n 5]
7
1
6
.875
  1. ^ No official standings were maintained for the 1920 season, and the championship was awarded to the Akron Pros in a league meeting on April 30, 1921. Clubs played schedules that included games against non-league opponents. The Buffalo All-Americans and Decatur Staleys disputed the title but lost.
  2. ^ The Buffalo All-Americans disputed the title but lost. The Chicago Staleys were renamed the Chicago Bears in 1922.
  3. ^ The NFL considers the Canton Bulldogs and the Cleveland Bulldogs to be separate franchises. The Chicago Bears disputed the title but lost.
  4. ^ The Chicago Cardinals were named the 1925 NFL Champions as a result of the league's controversial ruling concerning the Pottsville Maroons.
  5. ^ At the end of the 1932 season the Chicago Bears and Portsmouth Spartans finished regularly scheduled games tied for first place. The Bears won a playoff game, which counted in the standings, 9–0.

NFL Championships

The number in parentheses indicates the number of championships the franchise has won and the number of times a particular location has hosted the game.

Eastern/American Division/Conference* Western/National Division/Conference
Season Winning Team Score Losing Team Location Attendance Television
1933 Chicago Bears† (3) 23–21 New York Giants* Wrigley Field 26,000
1934 New York Giants* (2) 30–13 Chicago Bears Polo Grounds 35,059
1935 Detroit Lions 26–7 New York Giants* University of Detroit Stadium 15,000
1936 Green Bay Packers† (4) 21–6 Boston Redskins* Polo Grounds (2) 29,545
1937 Washington Redskins* 28–21 Chicago Bears Wrigley Field (2) 15,870
1938 New York Giants* (3) 23–17 Green Bay Packers Polo Grounds (3) 48,120
1939 Green Bay Packers† (5) 27–0 New York Giants* Wisconsin State Fair Park 32,279
1940 Chicago Bears† (4) 73–0 Washington Redskins* Griffith Stadium 36,034
1941 Chicago Bears† (5) 37–9 New York Giants* Wrigley Field (3) 13,341
1942 Washington Redskins* (2) 14–6 Chicago Bears Griffith Stadium (2) 36,006
1943 Chicago Bears† (6) 41–21 Washington Redskins* Wrigley Field (4) 34,320
1944 Green Bay Packers† (6) 14–7 New York Giants* Polo Grounds (4) 46,016
1945 Cleveland Rams 15–14 Washington Redskins* Cleveland Municipal Stadium 32,178
1946 Chicago Bears† (7) 24–14 New York Giants* Polo Grounds (5) 58,346
1947 Chicago Cardinals† (2) 28–21 Philadelphia Eagles* Comiskey Park 30,759
1948 Philadelphia Eagles* 7–0 Chicago Cardinals Shibe Park 36,309 ABC
1949 Philadelphia Eagles* (2) 14–0 Los Angeles Rams Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum 27,980
1950 Cleveland Browns* 30–28 Los Angeles Rams Cleveland Municipal Stadium (2) 29,751 ABC
1951 Los Angeles Rams† (2) 24–17 Cleveland Browns* Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (2) 57,522 DuMont
1952 Detroit Lions† (2) 17–7 Cleveland Browns* Cleveland Municipal Stadium (3) 50,934 DuMont
1953 Detroit Lions† (3) 17–16 Cleveland Browns* Briggs Stadium 54,577 DuMont
1954 Cleveland Browns* (2) 56–10 Detroit Lions Cleveland Municipal Stadium (4) 43,827 DuMont
1955 Cleveland Browns* (3) 38–14 Los Angeles Rams Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (3) 85,693 NBC
1956 New York Giants* (4) 47–7 Chicago Bears Yankee Stadium 56,836 NBC
1957 Detroit Lions† (4) 59–14 Cleveland Browns* Briggs Stadium (2) 55,263 NBC
1958 Baltimore Colts 23–17 (OT) New York Giants* Yankee Stadium (2) 64,185 NBC
1959 Baltimore Colts† (2) 31–16 New York Giants* Memorial Stadium 57,545 NBC
1960 Philadelphia Eagles* (3) 17–13 Green Bay Packers Franklin Field 67,325 NBC
1961 Green Bay Packers† (7) 37–0 New York Giants* "New" City Stadium 39,029 NBC
1962 Green Bay Packers† (8) 16–7 New York Giants* Yankee Stadium (3) 64,892 NBC
1963 Chicago Bears† (8) 14–10 New York Giants* Wrigley Field (5) 45,801 NBC
1964 Cleveland Browns* (4) 27–0 Baltimore Colts Cleveland Municipal Stadium (5) 79,544 CBS
1965 Green Bay Packers† (9) 23–12 Cleveland Browns* Lambeau Field (2) 50,777 CBS
  • In 1950, 1951, and 1952, the league's two divisions (Eastern and Western) were renamed the American and National Conferences, respectively. In 1953, the conferences were renamed the Eastern and Western Conferences.
  • The site at Wisconsin State Fair Park where the Packers played their two games a year was the infield of The Milwaukee Mile.

NFL Championships during the Super Bowl era

The number in parentheses indicates the number of championships the franchise has won and the number of times a particular location has hosted the game.

Eastern Conference* Western Conference
Season Winning Team Score Losing Team Location Attendance Television
1966 Green Bay Packers† (10) 34-27 Dallas Cowboys* Cotton Bowl 74,152 CBS
1967 Green Bay Packers† (11) 21-17 Dallas Cowboys* Lambeau Field (3) 50,861 CBS
1968 Baltimore Colts† (3) 34-0 Cleveland Browns* Cleveland Municipal Stadium (6) 78,410 CBS
1969 Minnesota Vikings† (1) 27-7 Cleveland Browns* Metropolitan Stadium 46,503 CBS
  • Between 1966 and the merger in 1970, the NFL champions would go on to play the AFL champions in Super Bowls I, II, III, and IV.

Championship Game appearances 1933–1969

Eastern/American Division/Conference* Western/National Division/Conference
# Team W L PCT
14 New York Giants* 3 11 .214
11 Cleveland Browns* 4 7 .364
10 Green Bay Packers 8 2 .800
10 Chicago Bears 6 4 .600
6 Boston/Washington Redskins* 2 4 .333
5 Detroit Lions 4 1 .800
5 Cleveland / Los Angeles Rams 2 3 .400
4 Baltimore Colts 3 1 .750
4 Philadelphia Eagles* 3 1 .750
2 Chicago Cardinals 1 1 .500
2 Dallas Cowboys* 0 2 .000
1 Minnesota Vikings 1 0 1.000

Records

Attendance
Host Stadiums
  • Cleveland Municipal Stadium hosted 6 games (1 with the Rams and 5 with the Browns)
  • Wrigley Field hosted 5 (all with the Bears)
  • Polo Grounds hosted 5 (4 with the Giants and the 1936 game moved by the Redskins)
First and last points scored
  • 1933: first points were scored by Chicago's Jack Manders a field goal. The first touchdown was scored by New York on a touchdown pass from Harry Newman to Morris "Red" Badrgo.
  • 1969: last field goal was scored on a 3rd quarter kick by Minnesota's Fred Cox. The last points scored was on a Cleveland touchdown pass from Bill Nelsen to Gary Collins with the extra point scored by Don Cockroft.
Winning and losing player shares
  • 1933 – Each Chicago player received $210.34 and each New York player received $140.22.
Note
  • After the 1970 AFL–NFL merger and the emergence of the Super Bowl, all NFL league championship games prior to merger are listed along with the NFC conference championship games in the NFL's official records.
  • A third-place game was played during the 1960s. The Playoff Bowl was played in January in Miami. The NFL officially classifies these ten games (and statistics) as exhibitions, not playoff games.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "NFL Champions, 1920-2007". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/history/general/champions.jsp. Retrieved 2009-04-03.  
  2. ^ a b c "The First Playoff Game". Pro Football Hall of Fame. http://www.profootballhof.com/history/decades/1930s/first_playoff_game.jsp. Retrieved 2009-04-03.  
  3. ^ "NFL's First Trophy Included In NFL Films Production". Packers.com. Green Bay Packers. March 12, 2007. http://www.packers.com/news/stories/2007/03/12/1/. Retrieved 2009-04-03.  

External links

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