Feb 4, 2010, 9:00 AM EDT
Great piece today in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about how everyone pretends the NFL wasn’t around before the first Super Bowl. Indeed, listening to the annual Super Bowl hype machine, one would think the NFL was born in 1967, when the Packers won the first “NFL-AFL Championship Game,” later to be known as the Super Bowl. But the league is actually 90 years old, and staged 33 NFL Championship Games before the first Super Bowl. Yes, when they played the first NFL title game, players tied onions to their belts, and nickels had pictures of bumblebees on ‘em. Other fun facts:
* The first NFL title game was played in 1933, as the Chicago Bears beat the New York Giants 23-21. Bill Hewitt, who played without a helmet, caught a pass and lateraled to end Billy Karr, who scored the winning 36-yard touchdown.
* In 1940, the Bears beat the Washington Redskins 73-0, and were asked not to attempt an extra point after their final touchdown because officials didn’t want the ball going into the stands, as there was only one spare ball remaining.
* The Philadelphia Eagles beat the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 in a blizzard to win the 1948 title game. The Eagles’ star player, Steve Van Buren, didn’t think there would be a game due to all the snow. When someone called him at home to tell him the game was on, he had to walk and then take a series of buses and commuter trains to get to the stadium.
* The NFL Championship Game was televised coast-to-coast for the first time in 1951, the DuMont Network paying $75,000 for the rights to the game between the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns.
Top NFL franchise of all time? Stop your Steelers, 49ers and Cowboys talk; the Packers have won nine titles (eight NFL championships, one Super Bowl). Best all-time quarterback? I sneeze in the general direction of your Joe Montana and Peyton Manning. Otto Graham led the Browns to 10 title games in 10 years; four straight championships in the All-America Football Conference (1946-’49) and then three of the six championship games they played after moving to the NFL.
Even the Detroit Lions were once good. They’ve won four NFL titles; 1935, ’52, ’53 and ’57. The ’50s were dominated by the Browns and Lions, if you can imagine that. So isn’t it time to integrate the pre-’67 NFL championships into the Super Bowl conversation? How about a toast to helmetless Bill Hewitt with one of the 14 or so beers you’ll be downing on Sunday?
I’ve poured some sand around Thursday so the smoke monster doesn’t get him. Hope it works.
ABOUT LAST NIGHT …
What you missed while detaining a suspicious melon …
* You mess with South Florida’s Dominique Jones, you get the horns.
* Just our luck: We can’t get a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, but Herschel Walker vs. Jose Canseco appears to be on schedule. Sigh.
* Rex Ryan was spit on by fan before flipping the bird? That was one magic loogey.
TODAY IN MARK TRAIL …
The terrifying result of overzealous wildlife conservation: Gigantic mutant beavers. Well, time to call in Godzilla to save our asses once again.
- So long folks, it’s time for me to take off 18
- Man wins full marathon while pushing his daughter in a baby stroller (video) 14
- Lock and load, it’s youth baseball fundraising time: league raffling off AR-15 rifle (video) 8
- Sim Bhullar is a large basketball player, and I mean it. Anybody want a peanut? 0
- What’s with kids and all these death-defying stunts? 674
- Nothing to see here…just a 70-yard field goal by a high-schooler (video) 3
- None found