1946 NFL season

The 1946 NFL season was the 27th regular season of the National Football League. Before the season, Elmer Layden resigned as NFL Commissioner and Bert Bell, co-founder of the Philadelphia Eagles, replaced him. Meanwhile, the All-America Football Conference was formed to rival the NFL, and the Rams became the first NFL team based on the West Coast after they relocated from Cleveland, Ohio, to Los Angeles, California. A regular season game was played on Tuesday, the last until the 2010 season, on October 1, between New York and Boston.

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

1946 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 20 – December 8, 1946
East ChampionsNew York Giants
West ChampionsChicago Bears
Championship Game
ChampionsChicago Bears

Major rule changes

  • A forward pass that strikes the goal posts is automatically ruled incomplete. This is sometimes known as the "Baugh/Marshall Rule" after Washington Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh and team owner George Preston Marshall. In the previous year's championship game, the Rams scored a safety when Baugh, throwing the ball from his own end zone, hit the goal posts (which were on the goal line for 41 seasons, from 1933 through 1973). The two points were the margin of victory as the Rams won 15–14, and Marshall was so outraged at the outcome that he was a major force in passing this rule change.
  • The free substitution rule was repealed and substitutions were limited to no more than three players at a time.
  • The receiving team is permitted to return punts and missed field goal attempts from behind their own goal line.
  • The penalty for an invalid fair catch signal is 5 yards from the spot of the signal.
  • A fair catch signal is valid when it is made while the ball is in flight.

Division races

In the Eastern Division, the Giants, Eagles, and Steelers all had 4 wins and 2 losses in Week Seven of an 11-week season, while in the Western Division, the Bears' 10–7 win over the Packers (Nov. 3) put them a game ahead of the Rams. In Week Eight, the Giants beat the Eagles 45–17, and the Steelers lost to Detroit 17–7, and the Bears beat the Rams 27–21 to widen their lead. Week Nine the Giants were tied by Boston, 28–28, putting them at 5–2–1, while the Steelers beat the Eagles 10–7 to be a half-game behind at 5–3–1. The teams met in New York in Week Ten, and the Giants' 7–0 win put them in front again.

The final week of the season had the 6–3–1 Giants hosting the 5–4–1 Redskins, and a Washington win would have given them both 6–4–1 records and forced a playoff. That became a moot point with New York's 31–0 win. A crowd of 60,337 turned out at the Polo Grounds, more than the 58,346 that went there for the championship a week later.

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 7 3 1 .700 236 162
Philadelphia Eagles 6 5 0 .545 231 220
Washington Redskins 5 5 1 .500 171 191
Pittsburgh Steelers 5 5 1 .500 136 117
Boston Yanks 2 8 1 .200 189 273
Western Division
Chicago Bears 8 2 1 .800 289 193
Los Angeles Rams 6 4 1 .600 277 257
Green Bay Packers 6 5 0 .545 148 158
Chicago Cardinals 6 5 0 .545 260 198
Detroit Lions 1 10 0 .091 142 310

NFL Championship Game

Chicago Bears 24, New York Giants 14, at the Polo Grounds in New York City on December 15, 1946


Joe F. Carr Trophy (Most Valuable Player)   Bill Dudley, Halfback, Pittsburgh

League leaders

Statistic Name Team Yards
Passing Sid Luckman Chicago Bears 1826
Rushing Bill Dudley Pittsburgh 604
Receiving Jim Benton Los Angeles 981


The 1946 NFL Draft was held on January 14, 1946 at New York City's Commodore Hotel. With the first pick, the Boston Yanks selected quarterback Frank Dancewicz from the University of Notre Dame.

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)
1946 All-Pro Team

The 1946 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players who were chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team for the 1946 football season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Associated Press (AP), the United Press (UP), Pro Football Illustrated, and the New York Daily News (NYDN). The AP selections included players from the National Football League (NFL) and All-America Football Conference; the UP, PFI, and NYDN selections were limited to players from the NFL.

Bob Snyder (American football)

Robert A. Snyder (February 6, 1913 – January 4, 2001) was an American football player and coach who spent more than three decades in the sport, including his most prominent position as head coach of the National Football League's Los Angeles Rams.

Bob Waterfield

Robert Stanton Waterfield (July 26, 1920 – March 25, 1983) was an American football player and coach and motion picture actor and producer. He played quarterback for the UCLA Bruins and Cleveland/Los Angeles Rams and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965. His No. 7 jersey was retired by the Los Angeles Rams in 1952.

Born in Elmira, New York, Waterfield moved to Los Angeles as an infant. He played college football for the UCLA Bruins in 1941, 1942, and 1944. In 1942, he led UCLA to a Pacific Coast Conference championship and was selected as the quarterback on the All-Pacific Coast team.

From 1945 to 1952, he played quarterback for the Cleveland/Los Angeles Rams in the National Football League (NFL). He led the Rams to NFL championships in 1945 and 1951 and was selected as the NFL's most valuable player in 1945. He was the first-team All-Pro quarterback in 1945, 1946, and 1949. Known as one of the best passers, punters, and place-kickers in the NFL, he set NFL career place-kicking records with 315 extra points and 60 field goals, as well as a single-season record with 54 extra points in 1950, and a single-game record with five field goals in a game.

Waterfield was married to movie actress Jane Russell from 1943 to 1968. During the 1950s, Waterfield also worked in the motion picture business, initially as an actor and later as a producer. He remained involved in football as an assistant coach during the 1950s and served as the head coach of the Rams from 1960 to 1962.

Earl Bennett (American football guard)

Earl Clinton "Jug" Bennett (February 27, 1920 – September 28, 1992) is a former guard in the National Football League.

George Kinard

George Truitt Kinard (October 9, 1916 - March 23, 2000) was an American football player. He played college football for the Ole Miss Rebels football team and was selected by the Central Press Association as a fourth-team guard on the 1940 College Football All-America Team. He was drafted by the Brooklyn Dodgers with the 118th pick in the 1941 NFL Draft and played for the Dodgers during the 1941 and 1942 NFL seasons. After the war, he returned to the NFL with the New York Yankees for the 1946 NFL season.

Jimmy Conzelman

James Gleason Dunn Conzelman (March 6, 1898 – July 31, 1970) was an American football player and coach, baseball executive, and advertising executive. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1964 and was selected in 1969 as a quarterback on the National Football League 1920s All-Decade Team.

A native of St. Louis, Conzelman played college football for the 1918 Great Lakes Navy Bluejackets team that won the 1919 Rose Bowl. In 1919, he was an All-Missouri Valley Conference quarterback for the Washington University Pikers football team. He then played ten seasons as a quarterback, halfback, placekicker, and coach in the National Football League (NFL) for the Decatur Staleys (1920), Rock Island Independents (1921–1922), Milwaukee Badgers (1922–1924), Detroit Panthers (1925–1926), and Providence Steam Roller (1927–1929). He was also a team owner in Detroit and, as player-coach, led the 1928 Providence Steam Roller team to an NFL championship.

From 1932 to 1939, Conzelman was the head football coach for the Washington University Bears football team, leading the program to Missouri Valley Conference championships in 1934, 1935, and 1939. He served as head coach of the NFL's Chicago Cardinals from 1940 to 1942 and again from 1946 to 1948. He led the Cardinals to an NFL championship in 1947 and Western Division championships in 1947 and 1948. He was also an executive with St. Louis Browns in Major League Baseball from 1943 to 1945.

Paul Rickards

Paul E. Rickards (June 30, 1926 – July 26, 1999) was an American football player. He played for the Pittsburgh Panthers football team. He led the NCAA in passing yardage in 1944 with 997 yards. He also appeared in three games with the Los Angeles Rams during the 1946 NFL season.

Tom Harmon

Thomas Dudley Harmon (September 28, 1919 – March 15, 1990), sometimes known by the nickname "Old 98", was an American football player, military pilot, actor, and sports broadcaster.

Harmon grew up in Gary, Indiana, and played college football at the halfback position for the University of Michigan from 1938 to 1940. He led the nation in scoring and was a consensus All-American in both 1939 and 1940 and won the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, and the Associated Press Athlete of the Year award in 1940. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1954.

During World War II, Harmon served as a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Forces. In April 1943, he was the sole survivor of the crash of a bomber he piloted in South America en route to North Africa. Six months later, while flying a P-38 Lightning, he was shot down in a dogfight with Japanese Zeros near Kiukiang in China.

After the war, Harmon played two seasons of professional football for the Los Angeles Rams and had the longest run from scrimmage during the 1946 NFL season. He later pursued a career in sports broadcasting and was the play-by-play announcer for the first televised Rose Bowl in the late 1940s and worked for CBS from 1950 to 1962. He later hosted a 10-minute daily sports show on the ABC radio network in the 1960s and worked as the sports anchor on the KTLA nightly news from 1958 to 1964. He also handled play-by-play responsibility on broadcasts of UCLA football games in the 1960s and 1970s.

1946 NFL season
Early era
Modern era

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