1933 NFL Championship Game

History Published on : 1/1/2005

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.

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, the New England Patriots, winners of Super Bowl XLIX took home $97,000 and each player on the Seattle Seahawks received $49,000.

Hall of Fame members in the '33 Championship Game