Pro Football Championships Before the Super Bowl

A Year-by-Year History, 1926–1965


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SKU: 9780786448098 Categories: ,

About the Book

While the Super Bowl has become a worldwide cultural event, the annual league championship games had a long history even before the first Super Bowl in January, 1967. From the first American Football League’s attempt to settle the league title on the gridiron in 1926 to the separate NFL and AFL championships of the 1965 season, this history offers a narrative of each game, including line-ups, box scores and team statistics.

About the Author(s)

Joseph S. Page is an organizational development consultant in Nashville, Tennessee. His other works include biographies of former heavyweight boxing champion Primo Carnera and boxing’s first world middleweight champion Nonpareil Jack Dempsey.

Bibliographic Details

Joseph S. Page
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 232
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4809-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5785-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      viii
Introduction      1

1926 AFL—The First Championship Games      3
1926 AFL—The NFL Challenge      9
1932 NFL—In from the Snow and the Cold      13
1933 NFL—Number One      22
1934 NFL—MVP: Abe Cohen      28
1935 NFL—The Lions Roar      32
1936 NFL—The First Neutral Site      35
1937 NFL—Enter Sammy Baugh      40
1938 NFL—The Gridiron Sport at Its Primitive Best      44
1939 NFL—Curley’s Perfect Packers      49
1940 NFL—The Wrath of the Bears      53
1941 NFL—Storm Clouds on the Horizon      59
1942 NFL—The Redskins’ Revenge      63
1943 NFL—Bronko’s Back!      67
1944 NFL—A Hidden Jewel      71
1945 NFL—Of Cold and Crossbars      75
1946 AAFC—The Browns Take Center Stage      80
1946 NFL—A Dark Day in Gotham      83
1947 AAFC—The Browns Repeat      89
1947 NFL—This One’s for Charlie      92
1948 AAFC—Perfect      96
1948 NFL—Snowbirds      99
1949 AAFC—Four for Four!      104
1949 NFL—Are You Sure This Isn’t Seattle?      108
1950 NFL—Look, Elmer, We’ve Got a Ball!      111
1951 NFL—How to Stop a Freight Train?      119
1952 NFL—The Lions’ Texas Connections      124
1953 NFL—The Lions Repeat      128
1954 NFL—Goodbye, Otto      133
1955 NFL—Goodbye, Otto …Again      137
1956 NFL—Gene Filipski’s Giant Day      141
1957 NFL—A Long Day in Detroit      145
1958 NFL—Sudden Death      149
1959 NFL—A Brilliant Duel in Baltimore      157
1960 AFL—The George Blanda Show      160
1960 NFL—Swan Song for the Dutchman      164
1961 AFL—Blanda Bowl II      168
1961 NFL—The Pack Is Back      171
1962 AFL—Sudden Death II      175
1962 NFL—One That Got Away: Tales of the Wind and Jimmy Taylor      180
1963 AFL—Keith Lincoln’s Big Day      184
1963 NFL—One More for Papa Bear      188
1964 AFL—Jack Kemp’s Revenge      194
1964 NFL—Ambush by the Lake      199
1965 AFL—Trampled by a Thundering Herd      203
1965 NFL—A Win for the Walking Wounded      206

Professional Football Champions Prior to the 1933 Title Game      209
Chapter Notes      211
Bibliography      217
Index      219

Book Reviews & Awards

“Page clearly has labored to gather factual information and present it in a clear, straightforward fashion. Football trivia buffs will encounter many unusual and interesting tidbits”—ARBA.

Author Interview

Review Fix chats with Pro Football Championships Before the Super Bowl author Joe Page, who discusses his book and the importance of the teams that came before the Super Bowl was “the championship.”


Review Fix: What inspired this book?

Joe Page: Without hesitation, sportswriter Jerry Izenberg, who many years ago wrote a book called Championship. I bought a copy of that book when I was no more than ten or eleven, at a school book fair, and never have I invested 75 cents so wisely. That book has quite literally been the inspiration for this collection of championship game stories. I have read Championship many times. Its cover is battered and taped, the glued backing all but disintegrated, and its pages worn, but I still own that same copy, and it has traveled the world with me – repeatedly landing on all six of the inhabitable continents of the earth, as I worked on this book. As much as I love the book, I always thought that Jerry should have started with the 1932 indoor final, so I undertook to write that chapter myself. I did, and then I kept going, and the result was this book. So to Jerry Izenberg, a heartfelt thank you for many years of terrific stories and for the inspiration.

Review Fix: What was the writing and editing experience like for you?

Page: Lots of fun and very interesting. I know I’m odd in that I truly enjoy researching and going through old newspapers, books, magazines, etc. I find it fascinating. I also enjoy with all my books, taking the eyewitness accounts of reporters and other fans and turning them into a full and rich narrative of a football game or a boxing match.

Review Fix: Did you learn anything you weren’t expecting?

Page: I don’t know that I learned anything that I wasn’t expecting, but I added a ton of knowledge about the games, the players, the coaches, professional football at the time. I knew a lot, but spending untold hours in the middle of all this makes it virtually impossible to not learn a lot.

Review Fix: Who do you think will enjoy this book the most?

Page: I believe that anyone who loves football would enjoy it. These were terrific games and very few people today know much if anything about them. As I say in the book’s introduction, time in professional football today seems to be measured only in Roman numerals. The championship history of professional football has been summed up in just two words, “Super Bowl”. It is almost as if the decades of championship contests that came before, never happened. The pre-Super Bowl history of professional football is rich in wonderful stories of the gladiators who slugged it out in the trenches for the right to be called champion. The tales are those of contests waged indoors on pint-sized fields and circus straw; tales of battling snowstorms and bitter winds; tales of frozen fields and sneakers. These are fascinating stories that bear telling and deserve to be remembered along side of those from the Super Bowls.

Review Fix: What’s next for you?

Page: Well, I’ve written two other books, both boxing biographies, about Primo Carnera and Nonpareil Jack Dempsey. Both were published by McFarland. I’m researching and beginning to write a bit on several others. One is the third book in a boxing trilogy about multiple fighters from multiple eras who have fascinating stories and while they may not have a full book in them, they certainly have a good chapter. Other projects are around true crime stories and the people involved from police to victims to perpetrators, a “biography” of a well-known musical and entertainment venue, the life story of an early Medal of Honor winner, and I’ve dabbled with a couple of horse racing books. Lots more that I’d love to do, it’s just finding the time.