1943 NFL season

The 1943 NFL season was the 24th regular season of the National Football League.

Due to the exodus of players who had left to serve in World War II, the Cleveland Rams were granted permission to suspend operations for this season, while the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers merged for this one season, with the combined team (known as Phil-Pitt and called the "Steagles" by fans) playing four home games in Philadelphia and two in Pittsburgh.

The season ended when the Chicago Bears defeated the Washington Redskins, 41–21, in the NFL Championship Game played the day after Christmas, the first time in NFL history that a playoff game was played so late in the year; Chicago had finished its regular season on November 28 and won the Western Division with an 8–1–1 record, but the Bears had to wait for three weeks while the Eastern Division champion was determined.

Washington and the New York Giants ended the regular season by playing against each other on two consecutive Sundays, December 5 and 12 (the second game, originally scheduled on October 3 had been postponed due to heavy rain). The Giants won both games to force a first-place tie at 6–3–1 each, but the Redskins won the playoff game and earned the right to play the Bears.

Despite the war, the league's popularity continued to grow. The league drew a cumulative 1,072,462 fans, which was fewer than 7,000 short of the record set the previous year despite the fact that 15 fewer games were played. The increased attendance was attributed to the higher competitiveness of the weaker squads.[1]

1943 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 19 –
December 26, 1943
East ChampionsWashington Redskins (playoff)
West ChampionsChicago Bears
Championship Game
ChampionsChicago Bears

Major rule changes

Joe Stydahar 1943 Chicago Bears jersey on display at NFL Experience (3818214195)
Joe Stydahar's Chicago Bears uniform worn during the team's 1943 championship season.
  • The free substitution rule is adopted. The rule was enacted in response to the depleted rosters of the World War II period, but it profoundly changed the game. Previously a player could enter the game a single time in each of the first three quarters; in the fourth quarter, two players on each squad could each be substituted twice. Because of these restrictions, players went "both ways", playing both offense and defense. This rule change eventually led to teams having separate offensive and defensive units and various "specialists" (placekickers, punters, returners, etc.). A similar rule had been adopted a few years earlier in college football.[2]
  • The wearing of helmets becomes mandatory for all players.

Division races

The NFL played a shortened schedule of ten games. In the Eastern Division, the Phil-Pitt team won its first two games and led at Week Four, with 1–0–0 Washington close behind, while in the Western Division, the Bears and Packers tied 21–21 in their first game and were 2–0–1 after four weeks.

In Week Five, the division leaders played each other on October 17, with the Bears beating the Steagles 48–21 and the Redskins defeating the Packers 33–7, leaving the two winners in first place.

The Redskins (5–0–1) and Bears (7–0–1) were still unbeaten going into Week Eleven, and met in Washington on November 21, with the Redskins winning 21–7. The Redskins had their first loss in Week Twelve when they lost to Phil-Pitt, 27–14, on November 28. The Bears clinched the Western Division the same day with a 35–24 win over the Cardinals for an 8–1–1 finish. In Week Thirteen, Phil-Pitt lost its very last game, falling to Green Bay 38–28, and was out of contention at 5–4–1. Meanwhile, the Giants beat the Redskins, 14–10, in New York. The next week, the Giants (5–3–1) defeated the Redskins (6–2–1) in Washington, 31–7, creating a tie in the Eastern Division. For the third straight weekend, New York and Washington faced each other, this time in a playoff, which the Redskins won 28–0.

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
Washington Redskins 6 3 1 .667 229 137
New York Giants 6 3 1 .667 197 170
Phil-Pitt "Steagles" 5 4 1 .556 225 230
Brooklyn Dodgers 2 8 0 .200 65 234
Western Division
Chicago Bears 8 1 1 .889 303 157
Green Bay Packers 7 2 1 .778 264 172
Detroit Lions 3 6 1 .333 178 218
Chicago Cardinals 0 10 0 .000 95 238


See: 1943 NFL playoffs

Home team in capitals

Eastern Division Playoff Game (December 19, 1943)

  • Washington 28, N.Y. GIANTS 0

NFL Championship Game (December 26, 1943)

  • CHI. BEARS 41, Washington 21


Joe F. Carr Trophy (Most Valuable Player)   Sid Luckman, Quarterback, Chi. Bears

League leaders

Statistic Name Team Yards
Passing Sid Luckman Chicago Bears 2194
Rushing Bill Paschal New York 572
Receiving Don Hutson Green Bay 776


The 1943 NFL Draft was held on April 8, 1943 at Chicago's Palmer House Hotel. With the first pick, the Detroit Lions selected runningback Frank Sinkwich from the University of Georgia.

Coaching changes


  • 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)
  1. ^ "'43 Pro Grid Cracks Attendance Records". Pittsburgh Press. UP. December 7, 1943. p. 28. Retrieved May 26, 2011.
  2. ^ Lyons, Robert (2010). On Any Given Sunday. Temple University Press. p. 97. ISBN 978-1-59213-731-2.
1943 All-Pro Team

The 1943 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players who were chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team for the 1943 football season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Associated Press (AP), the United Press (UP), the International News Service (INS), Pro Football Illustrated, the New York Daily News (NYDN), and the Chicago Herald-American (CHA).

1944 Cleveland Rams season

The 1944 Cleveland Rams season was the team's seventh year with the National Football League. The Rams had not played in the 1943 NFL season due to player shortage as a result of World War II.

Andy Uram

Andrew "Andy" Uram Jr. (March 21, 1915 – December 9, 1984) was a running back and defensive back in the National Football League who played for the Green Bay Packers. Uram played collegiate ball for the University of Minnesota before being drafted by the Packers in the 6th round of the 1938 NFL Draft. He played professionally for six seasons from 1938 to 1943. After the 1943 NFL season, Uram served in the United States Navy during World War II. In 1973, Uram was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. He died in 1984, at the age of 69.

Dick Evans (athlete)

Richard Jacob "Dick" Evans (May 31, 1915 – May 26, 2008) was an American professional basketball and football player. Evans was born on May 31, 1915 in Chicago, Illinois.

Joe Bukant

Joseph N. Bukant (October 31, 1915 – February 9, 2007) was an American football fullback who played for five seasons in the National Football League (NFL). After playing college football for Washington University in St. Louis, he was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the third round of the 1938 NFL Draft. He played for the Eagles from 1938 to 1940, and for the Chicago Cardinals from 1942 to 1943.

List of athletes who played in Major League Baseball and the National Football League

Fewer than 70 athletes are known to have played in both Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Football League (NFL). This includes two Heisman Trophy winners (Vic Janowicz and Bo Jackson) and seven members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame (Red Badgro, Paddy Driscoll, George Halas, Ernie Nevers, Ace Parker, Jim Thorpe, and Deion Sanders). However, none of the players on the list has been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 1920, the inaugural season of the NFL, 11 veterans of MLB (including George Halas and Jim Thorpe) became the first athletes to accomplish the feat. Since 1970, only seven athletes have done so, including Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders. Jackson was the first athlete to be selected as an All-Star in both MLB and the NFL. Sanders holds the longevity record, having appeared in 641 MLB games and 189 NFL games.

Lyle Rockenbach

Lyle James "Rocky" Rockenbach (March 1, 1915 – November 8, 2005) was an American football player. He played college football for Michigan State College (later known as Michigan State University) from 1937 to 1939. He blocked three punts in a single game against Temple in 1937. He was a co-captain of the 1939 Michigan State team, and was also honored as the team's most valuable player. After graduating from Michigan State, he became a high school coach in Howell, Michigan. In the summer of 1943, he attempted a comeback as a professional football player for the Detroit Lions. He appeared in nine games for the Lions during the 1943 NFL season.

Ray Wehba

Raymond E. Wehba (16 August 1916 – 2 June 2003) was a player in the National Football League. He first played with the Brooklyn Dodgers during the 1943 NFL season before playing with the Green Bay Packers during the 1944 NFL season.

Robert Kolesar

Robert C. "Bob" Kolesar (April 5, 1921 – January 13, 2004) was an American football player and medical doctor. He played at the guard position for the University of Michigan from 1940 to 1942 and for the Cleveland Browns in 1946 after a stint in the U.S. Army during World War II. While playing at Michigan, he was part of a line that was known as the "Seven Oak Posts".

Kolesar retired from professional football after one season to pursue a medical career, and later established a practice in Saginaw, Michigan. He died in 2004.

Sherwood Fries

Sherwood Marshall Fries (November 24, 1920 – December 9, 1986) was a guard in the National Football League.

Timeline of Pittsburgh

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US.

Tony Falkenstein

Anthony Joseph "Tony" Falkenstein (February 16, 1915 – October 10, 1994) was a fullback and quarterback in the National Football League.

1943 NFL season
Early era
Modern era

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