1933 NFL season

The 1933 NFL season was the 14th regular season of the National Football League. Because of the success of the 1932 NFL Playoff Game, the league divided its teams into two divisions for the first time, with the winners of each division playing in a championship game to determine the NFL champion. Three new teams also joined the league: the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Cincinnati Reds. Also, the Boston Braves changed their name to the Boston Redskins and the Staten Island Stapletons, while still scheduling games against league teams, left the league.

The season ended when the Chicago Bears defeated the New York Giants in the first ever NFL Championship Game.

1933 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 17 – December 10, 1933
East ChampionsNew York Giants
West ChampionsChicago Bears
Championship Game
ChampionsChicago Bears

Major rule changes

Due to the success of the 1932 NFL Playoff Game, the league stopped using the exact rules of college football and started to develop its own revisions:

  1. The forward pass is legal anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. Previously, the passer had to be at least five yards back from the scrimmage line. This change is referred to as the "Bronko Nagurski Rule" after his controversial touchdown in the 1932 NFL Playoff Game.
  2. Hashmarks or inbounds lines are added to the field 10 yards in from each sideline. All plays would start with the ball on or between the hashmarks.
  3. To increase the number of field goals and decrease the number of tie games, the goal posts are moved from the end lines at the back of the end zones to the goal lines; the goal posts were restored to its original position in 1974, where it has remained.
  4. It is a touchback when a punt hits the opponent's goal posts before being touched by a player of either team.
  5. It is a safety if a ball that is kicked behind the goal line hits the goal posts, and rolls back out of the end zone or is recovered by the kicking team.

Final standings

P = Games Played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against
Note: The NFL did not officially count tie games in the standings until 1972

Eastern Division
New York Giants 14 11 3 0 .786 244 101
Brooklyn Dodgers 10 5 4 1 .556 93 54
Boston Redskins 12 5 5 2 .500 103 97
Philadelphia Eagles 9 3 5 1 .375 77 158
Pittsburgh Pirates 11 3 6 2 .333 67 208
Western Division
Chicago Bears 13 10 2 1 .833 133 82
Portsmouth Spartans 11 6 5 0 .545 128 87
Green Bay Packers 13 5 7 1 .417 170 107
Cincinnati Reds 10 3 6 1 .333 38 110
Chicago Cardinals 11 1 9 1 .100 52 101

NFL Championship Game

NFL Championship
December 17, 1933 – Wrigley Field
Chicago Bears23
New York Giants21

League leaders

Statistic Name Team Yards
Passing Harry Newman New York 973
Rushing Jim Musick Boston 809
Receiving Paul Moss Pittsburgh 283

Coaching changes


  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 1931–1940 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
1933 All-Pro Team

The 1933 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team of the National Football League (NFL) for the 1933 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the NFL coaches (NFL), the United Press, Red Grange for Collyer's Eye (CE), and the Green Bay Press-Gazette (GB).

Buster Mott

Norman H. "Buster" Mott (June 21, 1909 – November 14, 1987) was a defensive back in the National Football League. Mott played with the Green Bay Packers during the 1933 NFL season. He split the following season between the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Glenn Presnell

Glenn Emery "Press" Presnell (July 28, 1905 – September 13, 2004) was an American football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He set the NFL single-season scoring record in 1933 and led the league in total offense. He was the last surviving member of the Detroit Lions inaugural 1934 team and helped lead the team to its first NFL championship in 1935. He also set an NFL record with a 54-yard field goal in 1934, a record which was not broken for 19 years. Presnell served as the head football coach at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln in 1942 and at Eastern Kentucky State College—now known as Eastern Kentucky University–from 1954 to 1963, compiling a career college football coaching record of 45–56–3. He was also the athletic director at Eastern Kentucky from 1963 to 1971.

Harry O'Boyle

Harry O'Boyle (October 31, 1904 – May 5, 1994) was a blocking back in the National Football League. He first was a member of the Green Bay Packers for two seasons, however he did not see any playing time during a regular season game during his second season. After two seasons away from the NFL, he re-joined the Packers for the 1933 NFL season. The following season, he played with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Hugh Rhea

Hugh McCall Rhea (September 9, 1909 – October 18, 1973) was an American football player and track and field athlete.

A native of Arlington, Nebraska, Rhea attended Arlington High School and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He played college football for the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team and was twice selected as an All-American tackle. In 1930, he was selected as a first-team All-American by Grantland Rice for Collier's Weekly, and in 1931, he was selected as a third-team All-American by the Associated Press.Rhea also competed in track and field for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, winning the shot put event at the 1932 NCAA Men's Track and Field Championships with an NCAA record-setting throw of 52 feet, 5¾ inches. He later played two games as a guard in professional football for the Brooklyn Dodgers during the 1933 NFL season. Rhea died in Florida in 1973 at age 64, and he was posthumously inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame in 1986.

Joe Lillard

Joseph Johnny Lillard Jr. (June 15, 1905 – September 18, 1978) was an American football, baseball, and basketball player. From 1932 to 1933, he was a running back for the National Football League's (NFL) Chicago Cardinals. Lillard was the last African-American, along with Ray Kemp, to play in the NFL until 1946, when Kenny Washington and Woody Strode joined the Los Angeles Rams. Lillard received the nickname "The Midnight Express" by the media. In 1933, he was responsible for almost half of the Cardinals' points.

An orphan from an early age, Lillard attended Mason City High School before moving to the University of Oregon. He played twice for the university's football team in 1931 before he was ruled ineligible by the Pacific Coast Conference (PCC) for playing semi-professional baseball. The following year, he signed with the Cardinals, but played less frequently toward the end of the season. Lillard was a leading contributor for the Cardinals in 1933, receiving praise from the Chicago Defender. His performances during the season included a game against the Chicago Bears that featured a punt return for a touchdown. However, he was ejected from two games that season for fighting, into which he was often baited by white opponents.

With the advent of an unofficial color line that excluded black players, Lillard did not play in the NFL after 1933. He remained active in football, playing for minor league and semi-professional teams, including the New York Brown Bombers, with whom he spent three seasons. Lillard was also a pitcher in Negro league baseball for five seasons from 1932 to 1944, and a guard in basketball for the future Harlem Globetrotters. After his athletic career, he became an appliance store employee and died in 1978.

Lee Mulleneaux

Cecil Lee Mulleneaux (April 1, 1908 – November 14, 1985) was a player in the National Football League. He played his first season with the New York Giants. During the 1933 NFL season he played with the Cincinnati Reds before splitting the following season between the Reds and the St. Louis Gunners. For the next two seasons he played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. After a season away from the NFL, he split the 1938 NFL season between the Chicago Cardinals and the Green Bay Packers.

List of National Football League head coaches by playoff record

At the end of the 1932 NFL season, the Portsmouth Spartans and the Chicago Bears tied for first place (6-1); under the rules at the time, standings were based on winning percentage, with ties excluded from the calculation. The Spartans and Bears had tied each other twice during the regular season, making the league's only tiebreaker useless. So the league had to make a rule change to allow another game. For the first time, the league played what amounted to a replay game to determine the NFL champion. Coach Ralph Jones led the Bears to a 9-0 victory over Coach Potsy Clark. The game is recorded as a regular season game for the teams' statistics. Three seasons later Coach Clark would lead his team to their first title, when they were the Detroit Lions.

Because it proved so popular, the 1932 NFL "Playoff Game", as it is unofficially called, started a new era for the National Football League. Beginning in the 1933 NFL season, the league was divided into divisions, and the winner of each division would meet in a playoff game to determine the champion.

The first NFL official playoff game was the 1933 NFL Championship Game between the Chicago Bears and New York Giants where Coach George "Papa Bear" Halas beat Hall of Fame Coach Steve Owen. After the 2017 season there have been a total of 549 NFL playoff games including games from the AFL, but not the AAFC. The following list shows the career postseason records for each coach that has recorded a win in the NFL playoffs from 1933 through the 2017–18 NFL playoff games.

Nick DeCarbo

Nicholas Fred DeCarbo (March 21, 1910 – August 21, 1991) was an American football player who was a guard in the National Football League (NFL) for one season in 1933. He played college football for Duquesne University, and played professionally as a lineman in 11 games for the NFL's Pittsburgh Pirates (now known as the Pittsburgh Steelers) during the 1933 NFL season. He attended New Castle High School in New Castle, Pennsylvania.

Sports in Cincinnati

Sports in Cincinnati includes three major league teams, eleven minor league teams, and five college institutions with sports teams. Cincinnati also has seven major sports venues.

Steeler Nation

Steeler Nation is an unofficial name for the fan-base of the National Football League's Pittsburgh Steelers. The term was coined by NFL Films narrator John Facenda in the team's 1978 highlights film. Steelers Country is often used for the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area where the fan base originates or for areas with a large Steelers fan base.

1933 NFL season
Early era
Modern era

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