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Super Bowl? Dec. 18, 1932: The NFL’s First Title Game

Hey everyone this is Sam and let’s talk about how 88 years ago today that the Chicago Bears beat the Portsmouth Spartans, 9-0. This was the NFL’s first title game that became the Super Bowl. I can’t believe this was played on a hockey rink that smelled like elephant manure. Can you imagine?

We Need A Champion

Back in the day, the league title was awarded to the regular season’s best team. However, since the Bears and Spartans had the same record and tied both of their meetings. It was decided that one final game was needed to declare a champion.

Several Issues For The Game

Severe weather caused the game to move from Wrigley Field which was the home of the Chicago Bears to Chicago Stadium which was the home of the Chicago Blackhawks. Remember it is a hockey rink. It could only fit an 80-yard field. Two nights ago the circus had been at the Chicago Stadium. The cement floor had been covered by the same dirt and tanbark, it had had elephant manure on it. They had gotten it off, but it still smelled. One Bears player ended up throwing up.

Changes That Helped The Game

In this game the NFL changed forever with one play. Hall of Famer FB Bronko Nagurski threw a touchdown pass to Hall of Famer Red Grange. In the fourth quarter of the 1932 game, the Bears scored on a controversial touchdown: Carl Brumbaugh handed the ball off to fullback Nagurski, who pulled up and threw to Grange in the end zone for the score. The Spartans argued that Nagurski did not drop back five yards before passing to Grange, but the touchdown stood.

The goal posts were moved forward to the goal line. Later this was determined to be dangerous. Every play started from between the hash marks the next season. In this game, the field was also too narrow, so whenever a play ended near the sideline they had to move the ball 10 yards in for the next play. It opened up the field. Fans loved it especially the passing. The next season they decided that forward passes could be thrown from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage (instead of the previous five yards behind).

The Super Bowl

The game proved so popular that the NFL expanded to 10 teams. Then they reorganized into two divisions for the 1933 season. With the winners advancing to a scheduled championship game to determine champion. The Bears beat the New York Giants in the first planned true championship. Of course, this becomes the Super Bowl.

What Happened To The Teams?

The Chicago Bears went on to win six more titles before the merger. However, they have only one Super Bowl win which only trails the Green Bay Packers who has 13 titles.

The Portsmouth Spartans were sold for $8,000 in 1934. Then they became the Detroit Lions who before the merger won four titles. However, they have never made an appearance in the Super Bowl.

I never knew all this until it was casually mentioned on TV. It so interesting that one game was the cause of changes. Most I absolutely love especially the forward pass from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. Let Sports Obsessive know what you think of this game.

Written by Samantha Sayre

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