1941 NFL season

The 1941 NFL season was the 22nd regular season of the National Football League. Before the season, Elmer Layden was named the first Commissioner of the NFL, while Carl Storck resigned as league president. Layden also took on the duties of president and signed a five-year contract at $20,000 annually.[1]

The league bylaws were changed to provide for playoffs in cases where division races are tied after the regular season, and rules for sudden-death overtimes in case a playoff game was tied after four quarters.

The defending league champion Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers finished the regular season tied in the Western Division, setting up the first divisional playoff game in league history. The Bears won 33–14 at Wrigley Field on December 14, then defeated the New York Giants 37–9 in the NFL championship game at Wrigley Field on December 21. The Bears, averaging 36 points per game, became the first team since the institution of the East-West championship in 1933 to repeat as champion.[2]

The total attendance for the league's 55 regular season games was 1,118,616. This represented an increase of 9% over the previous season's attendance.[2]

1941 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 7 – December 7, 1941
East ChampionsNew York Giants
West ChampionsChicago Bears (playoff)
Championship Game
ChampionsChicago Bears

Major rule changes

  • The penalty for illegal shift is 5 yards.
  • The penalty for illegal kick or bat is 15 yards.
  • Whenever a player is ejected from the game, his team is penalized 15 yards.
  • A personal foul committed by the opponent of the scoring team is enforced on the ensuing kickoff.[3]

In addition to these rule changes, this season marked the first time that the league commissioner became involved in enforcement of player conduct standards. Commissioner Elmer Layden in August assessed $25 fines on Green Bay Packers quarterback Larry Craig and New York Giants halfback Hank Soar for fighting.[4]

Wilson became the official game ball of the NFL.

Division Races

In the Eastern Division, the Redskins held a half-game after nine weeks of play; at 5–1–0, their only loss had been 17–10 to the 5–2-0 Giants, who had lost two games in a row. Washington, however, lost its next three games, while the Giants rebounded to win their next two games. On November 23, the 5–3 Redskins met 7–2 New York at the Polo Grounds, and the Giants' 20–13 win clinched the division championship.

The Western Division race was one between the Bears and Packers. By November 2, when the teams met at Wrigley Field, the Bears were 5–0 and the Packers 6–1, in part because of the Bears' earlier 25–17 win at Green Bay. Green Bay's 16–14 win put them in the lead, and they finished the regular season at 10–1 on November 30 with a 22–17 comeback win at Washington. On the afternoon of December 7, 1941, on the day Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor, the Bears were losing to the Cardinals, 14–0, and trailed 24–20 in the fourth quarter, before rallying for a 34–24 win. Both teams finished at 10–1 and a playoff was set to determine who would go to the title game. With the United States now embroiled in World War II, the Bears and Packers met at Wrigley Field on December 14, with Chicago winning 33–14.

Final standings

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 8 3 0 .727 238 114
Brooklyn Dodgers 7 4 0 .636 158 127
Washington Redskins 6 5 0 .545 176 174
Philadelphia Eagles 2 8 1 .200 119 218
Pittsburgh Steelers 1 9 1 .100 103 276
Western Division
Chicago Bears 10 1 0 .909 396 147
Green Bay Packers 10 1 0 .909 258 120
Detroit Lions 4 6 1 .400 121 195
Chicago Cardinals 3 7 1 .300 127 197
Cleveland Rams 2 9 0 .182 116 244


Western Division Playoff Game

  • CHI. BEARS 33, Green Bay 14

NFL Championship Game

  • CHI. BEARS 37, N.Y. Giants 9

Home team in capitals


Joe F. Carr Trophy (Most Valuable Player)   Don Hutson, Wide receiver, Green Bay

League leaders

Statistic Name Team Yards
Passing Cecil Isbell Green Bay 1479
Rushing Pug Manders Brooklyn 486
Receiving Don Hutson Green Bay 738


The 1941 NFL Draft was held on December 10, 1940 at Washington, D.C.'s Willard Hotel. With the first pick, the Chicago Bears selected halfback Tom Harmon from The University of Michigan.

Coaching changes


  1. ^ Strickler, George (April 6, 1941). "Layden installed as pro football commissioner". Chicago Sunday Tribune. p. 1, part 2.
  2. ^ a b Kirksey, George (December 26, 1941). "Chicago Bears dominate pro grid picture". Telegraph Herald. Dubuque, Iowa. United Press. p. 10.
  3. ^ "11 rule changes in pro football are approved". Chicago Daily Tribune. April 7, 1941. p. 26.
  4. ^ "Layden Fines Two Pros for Fighting". Pittsburgh Press. United Press. August 26, 1941. p. 18. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 1941–1950 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
1941 All-Pro Team

The 1941 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 1941 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the so-called "official" All-Pro team selected by a committee of professional football writers for the NFL (NFL), the sports writers of the Associated Press (AP), the United Press (UP), Collyer's Eye (CE), the New York Daily News (NYDN), and the Chicago Herald American.Players displayed in bold were consensus first-team selections. Five players were named to the first team by all six selectors: Green Bay Packers halfback Cecil Isbell; Chicago Bears halfback George McAfee; Green Bay Packers end Don Hutson; Chicago Bears guard Dan Fortmann; and Chicago Bears center Bulldog Turner.

1941 American Football League season

The 1941 American Football League season was the second season of the third American Football League. After deeming the 1940 season to be a success, the league made overtures of expansion, even going to the point of having a press conference to announce the addition of new teams (July), but when the press conference was held, the Boston Bears had withdrawn from the league and the new Detroit franchise deferred entry for the 1942 season (interests representing Philadelphia and Baltimore also applied for membership and were denied).The New York Yankees were sold to promoter and agent Douglas Hertz in January; by mid-summer, the AFL revoked the franchise in light of controversies involving Hertz’s finances. A syndicate headed by William Cox was awarded the franchise in August, but Hertz kept the name for his new independent team (which later in the season became a traveling team in the American Association). Cox and the new owners of the AFL franchise redubbed the team the Americans. In Buffalo, a less contentious change of ownership resulted in the Indians becoming the Tigers.The Columbus Bullies successfully defended their 1940 AFL championship. Their 5-1-2 record edged the 5-2-1 of the Americans and the 4-3-1 of the Milwaukee Chiefs.At the beginning of the 1941 season, the Bullies accepted a challenge from the defending Western Interprovincial Football Union champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers for a three-game series; the Bombers had been banned from Grey Cup contention that year due to rules discrepancies between the WIFU and the other organizations playing Canadian football at the time. The Bullies and Blue Bombers played three games, at least partially by Canadian rules (as one of the games, the deciding third game, has Winnipeg's final score as 1 point, which is not possible in the American game). Columbus won the series, 2-1; Winnipeg won the first game 19-12, but Columbus won the next two, 6-0 and 31-1.

Hal Lahar

Harold Wade Lahar (July 14, 1919 – October 20, 2003) was an American football player and coach. He served as the head football coach at Colgate University (1952 to 1956 and 1962 to 1967) and the University of Houston (1957 to 1961).

Lahar was born in Durant, Oklahoma and attended Central High School in Oklahoma City. He later was an All-Big Six Conference guard for the Oklahoma Sooners under coach Tom Stidham. Lahar was selected 79th overall in the 1941 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears, where he spent the 1941 NFL season before serving in the United States Navy in the South Pacific during World War II.

After leaving the service as a Lieutenant (junior grade) in 1945, Lahar played for the Buffalo Bills of the All-America Football Conference from 1946 to 1948 before beginning his college coaching career as an assistant under Otis Douglas at the University of Arkansas in 1950. In 1952, he became the 25th head coach at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York. In 1957, he succeeded Bill Meek at the University of Houston, where he spent five years, before returning to Colgate in 1962, making him the first man to return to a Division I head-coaching job after leaving for another school. Following the 1967 season, Lahar retired from coaching and served as athletic director at Colgate. His overall coaching record at Colgate was 53–40–8.

Lahar was also assistant commissioner of the Southwest Conference. He worked at the now-defunct SWC from 1973 until his retirement in 1983. Upon his death in 2003, Lahar was buried in the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery.

Lee McLaughlin

Lee Massey McLaughlin (February 28, 1917 – August 13, 1968) was an American football player with the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL) and a head football coach at Washington and Lee University.

Milt Piepul

Milton John Piepul (September 14, 1918 – March 19, 1994) was an American football player, coach, and college athletics administrator. He played college football for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team. He was selected as a second-team fullback on the 1939 College Football All-America Team and a third-team player on the 1940 team. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions with the 95th pick in the 1941 NFL draft and played for the Lions during the 1941 NFL season. Piepul served as the head football coach at American International College from 1971 to 1975 and as the school's athletic director from 1971 to 1986. Previously he was an assistant football coach at Dartmouth College, Brown University, and the College of the Holy Cross.

Win Pedersen

Windinge Christian "Win" Pedersen (June 7, 1915 - January 16, 1983), sometimes listed as Win Pederson, was an American football player. He played college football for the Minnesota Golden Gophers football team from 1938 to 1939 and was captain of Minnesota's 1939 team. He was selected by both the Associated Press and the United Press as a third-team tackle on the 1939 College Football All-America Team. He was drafted by the New York Giants with the 70th pick in the 1940 NFL Draft and played for the Giants during the 1941 NFL season. He missed three seasons due to military service and returned to the Giants in 1945. He also played for the Boston Yanks in 1946. He died in 1983 at age 67.

1941 NFL season
Early era
Modern era

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