1944 NFL season

The 1944 NFL season was the 25th regular season of the United States National Football League. The Boston Yanks joined the league as an expansion team. Also, the Brooklyn Dodgers changed their name to Brooklyn Tigers. Meanwhile, both the Cleveland Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles resumed their traditional operations, while the Pittsburgh Steelers merged with the Chicago Cardinals for this one season due to player shortages as a result of World War II. The combined team, known as Card-Pitt, played three home games in Pittsburgh and two in Chicago, and set the 20th century record for lowest punting average by an NFL team with 32.7 yards per punt.[1]

The season is notable in that it featured two winless teams, the only such case in NFL history since 1935 (when the league stabilized from its early years of revolving door membership, when winless teams were much more common) as both Brooklyn and Card-Pitt finished 0–10.

Since 1944, only five teams have had winless seasons in the NFL: the 1960 Dallas Cowboys (0–11–1), the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0–14), the 1982 Baltimore Colts (0–8–1), the 2008 Detroit Lions (0–16), and the 2017 Cleveland Browns (0–16). In the case of the Colts, the season was shortened due to a league-wide players strike, while the Cowboys and Buccaneers were both expansion teams.

The season ended when the Green Bay Packers defeated the New York Giants in the NFL Championship Game.

1944 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 17 – December 17, 1944
East ChampionsNew York Giants
West ChampionsGreen Bay Packers
Championship Game
ChampionsGreen Bay Packers

Major rule changes

  • The free substitution rule is modified so that substitutes do not have to report to the officials before a play.
  • Communication between the players and coaches on the field is permitted as long as the coaches are in the designated areas along the sidelines, and that they do not cause a delay in the game.
  • If the offensive team commits pass interference in their opponent's end zone, it is just a distance penalty and no longer an automatic touchback.

Division races

Each team played ten games over thirteen weeks. The Brooklyn Tigers lost seven of their games by a touchdown or less. On October 29, they had 14–7 lead over Boston at halftime, before losing 17–14 in Week Seven. The same week, Card-Pitt's 42–20 loss at Washington eliminated it from playoff contention. Card-Pitt had actually taken a 28–23 lead over the Rams in its first game, played September 24 at Pittsburgh, before falling 30–28; its only other lead was a 7–0 in a game at Chicago against the Packers, which it eventually lost 35–20.

The Western Division race was no contest, as the Packers won their first six games and stayed ahead of all challengers. In the Eastern Division, Washington (5–0–1) and Philadelphia (4–0–2) were both unbeaten after nine weeks. The teams met in Washington in Week Ten (November 26), and the Eagles won 37–7, putting them at 5–0–2, with the Redskins and Giants a half game back at 5–1–1. The Eagles lost, while the Giants and Redskins won, in Week Eleven, putting New York and Washington in the lead at 6–1–1. In Week Twelve, a crowd of 47,457 turned out at New York's Polo Grounds to watch the Giants and Redksins. Washington had a 13–10 lead before falling 16–13. In Week Thirteen, the Eagles beat the Rams 26–13, giving them a 7–1–2 finish, then waited to see how the 7–1–1 Giants would fare in their rematch at Washington. The Giants beat the Skins 31–0, capturing the division and the right to host the championship.

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 1 1 .889 206 75
Philadelphia Eagles 7 1 2 .875 267 131
Washington Redskins 6 3 1 .667 169 180
Boston Yanks 2 8 0 .200 82 233
Brooklyn Tigers 0 10 0 .000 69 166
Western Division
Green Bay Packers 8 2 0 .800 238 141
Chicago Bears 6 3 1 .667 258 172
Detroit Lions 6 3 1 .667 216 151
Cleveland Rams 4 6 0 .400 188 224
Card-Pitt 0 10 0 .000 108 328

NFL Championship Game

Green Bay 14, N.Y. Giants 7, at Polo Grounds, New York City, December 17, 1944


Joe F. Carr Trophy (Most Valuable Player)   Frank Sinkwich, Halfback, Detroit

League leaders

Statistic Name Team Yards
Passing Irv Comp Green Bay 1159
Rushing Bill Paschal New York 737
Receiving Don Hutson Green Bay 866


The 1944 NFL Draft was held on April 19, 1944 at Philadelphia's Warwick Hotel. With the first pick, the Boston Yanks selected quarterback Angelo Bertelli from the University of Notre Dame.


Eastern Division

Western Division


  1. ^ Kiss Em Goodbye: An ESPN Treasury of failed, forgotten, and departed teams, p.69, Dennis Purdy, Ballantine Books, New York, 2010, ISBN 978-0-345-52012-8
  • 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)
1944 All-Pro Team

The 1944 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players who were chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team for the 1944 football season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Associated Press (AP), the United Press (UP), the International News Service (INS), Pro Football Illustrated, and the New York Daily News (NYDN).

Bob McRoberts (American football)

Bob McRoberts was a former halfback in the National Football League. He was a member of the Boston Yanks during the 1944 NFL season.

Del Lyman

Marion Dell Lyman (July 9, 1918 – December 19, 1986) was a player in the National Football League.

Fred Dawley

Frederick Martin Dawley (March 11, 1921 – April 13, 1994) was an American football player. Dawley played for Detroit's Pershing High School before enrolling at the University of Michigan. He played at the fullback position for the University of Michigan from 1939 to 1941. In October 1944, Dawley was signed by the Detroit Lions and played professional football for the Lions in the 1944 NFL season. In 1945, the Lions loaned Dawley "for seasoning" to the Los Angeles Bulldogs in the Pacific Coast Professional Football League. Playing for the Bulldogs, Dawley kicked extra points and sprinted for an 81-yard touchdown in a game against the Oakland Giants. The Los Angeles Times described Dawley's touchdown run as follows:"The Bulldogs took a 7-0 lead in the opening period, thanks to an 81-yard sprint by Fred Dawley, starting on the 19-yard stripe, smashed through center, busted past three men in the secondary and outsped the field for the touchdown. He made it despite his 210 pounds with a couple of lighter men on his heels."

The United Press called Dawley's run the "top play of the day."Dawley died in 1994 at age 73 while living in Stuart, Florida.

Len Calligaro

Len Calligaro (June 24, 1921 – June 15, 2011) was a blocking back in the National Football League (NFL). He played with the New York Giants during the 1944 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.

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.

1944 NFL season
Early era
Modern era

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