In 1932, the Chicago Bears defeated the Portsmouth Spartans (now the Detroit Lions) 9-0 in the National Football League's first post-season game ever. During the off-season, sweeping changes occurred to the NFL, one of which called for the league to be divided into two divisions.
At the end of the regular season, the NFL held a championship game that pitted the two division winners in the title bout to determine the world champions of pro football. So, on December 17, 1933, the Bears hosted the New York Giants at Wrigley Field in Chicago in the NFL's inaugural championship game.
The game, witnessed by an estimated 26,000 fans, lived up to its billing. The contest featured lots of offense by both teams. After two field goals by the Bears' Jack Manders, the Giants responded with the first touchdown in NFL championship game history when Hall of Famer Morris "Red" Badgro connected with Harry Newman on a 29-yard touchdown play to put the Giants in the lead, 7-6.
The game remained close throughout the second half as well. The Bears went ahead on a Manders' 15-yard field goal before the Giants responded with a one-yard run by Max Krause to regain the lead, 14-9.
|The NFL's first-ever playoff game in 1933 featured its fair share of wild plays. Included among them was the game-winning touchdown by the Bears. In a designed trick play, Bronko Nagurski faked the run, threw a jump pass 14 yards to the helmet-less Bill Hewitt, who in turn lateraled to Bill Karr who ran 19 yards to the end zone.
Hall of Fame fullback Bronko Nagurski led the charge as he gained 65 yards rushing on the day but more importantly threw an 8-yard pass to end Billy Karr to put the Bears in front by two in the third quarter. The Giants once again pulled ahead when Newman hauled in his second touchdown pass of the game, an eight-yarder from Hall of Famer Ken Strong.
Then, in the closing minutes of the game and the Giants leading 21-16, Nagurski threw 14 yards downfield to fellow Hall of Famer Bill Hewitt who quickly and wisely lateraled the ball to Karr who raced into the end zone to give the Bears the victory.
For their efforts, each member of the Bears earned a whopping $210.34 while the Giants players were awarded $140.22 each. By comparison, each player participating in the 2006 championship games will received $37,500. The winners advance to Super Bowl XLI where each member of the winning team takes home $78,000 and each player on the losing team receives $40,000.
Hall of Fame members in the '33 Championship Game
Chicago Bears - Red Grange, George Halas (coach), Bill Hewitt, Link Lyman, George Musso, Bronko Nagurski
New York Giants - Red Badgro, Ray Flaherty, Mel Hein, Ken Strong, Tim Mara (owner), Steve Owen (coach)