1948 NFL season

The 1948 NFL season was the 29th regular season of the National Football League. During the season, Halfback Fred Gehrke painted horns on the Los Angeles Rams' helmets, making the first modern helmet emblem in pro football.[1] The last regular season game played on Wednesday until the 2012 season happened on September 22, 1948, between Detroit and Los Angeles. The season ended when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago Cardinals in the NFL Championship Game.

The 1948 season featured the highest per-game, per-team scoring in NFL history, with the average team scoring 23.2 points per game.[2] This record stood for 65 years until 2013.[3]

1948 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 17 – December 19, 1948
East ChampionsPhiladelphia Eagles
West ChampionsChicago Cardinals
Championship Game
ChampionsPhiladelphia Eagles

Major rule changes

  • Plastic helmets are prohibited. This rule was enacted because critics argued that they were being used more as a weapon than protection.[1]
  • A flexible artificial tee is permitted at the kickoff.[1]
  • When the intended passer is tackled behind the line of scrimmage, the game clock will stop temporarily until any receivers who have gone down field have had a reasonable time to return.
  • When the offense is called for delay of game, the defense may decline the 5-yard distance penalty.
  • If a foul occurs behind the line during a backwards pass or fumble, the penalty is enforced from the spot of the pass or fumble.
  • It is illegal to bat or punch the ball while it is in a player's possession.
  • All officials are equipped with whistles, not horns.[1]

Division races

In the Eastern race, the Eagles beat Washington 45–0 in Week Five to take a 1/2 game lead. When the 6–1–1 Eagles met the 6–2 Skins again in Week Ten, Washington lost a must-win game, 42–21.

The other race was all Chicago, as the Cardinals and Bears both had records of 10–1 going into the final week. A record crowd of 51,283 packed Wrigley Field on December 12 to watch. The Bears took a 21–10 lead, on George Gulyanics's touchdown as the fourth quarter began.[4] Charley Trippi's touchdown cut the margin to 21–17, but the Bears had the ball and time on their side. The turning point came when the Cards' Vince Banonis picked off a pass from Johnny Lujack, and ran the ball back to the Bears' 19, and Elmer Angsman scored the winning touchdown three plays later for the Western Division title and the trip to the championship.[5]

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
Philadelphia Eagles 9 2 1 .818 376 156
Washington Redskins 7 5 0 .583 291 287
New York Giants 4 8 0 .333 297 388
Pittsburgh Steelers 4 8 0 .333 200 243
Boston Yanks 3 9 0 .250 174 372
Western Division
Chicago Cardinals 11 1 0 .917 395 226
Chicago Bears 10 2 0 .833 375 151
Los Angeles Rams 6 5 1 .545 327 269
Green Bay Packers 3 9 0 .250 154 290
Detroit Lions 2 10 0 .167 200 407

NFL Championship Game

Philadelphia Eagles 7, Chicago Cardinals 0 in a blizzard at Shibe Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 19, 1948


League leaders

Statistic Name Team Yards
Passing Sammy Baugh Washington 2599
Rushing Steve Van Buren Philadelphia 945
Receiving Mal Kutner Chicago Cardinals 943


The 1948 NFL Draft was held on December 19, 1947 at Pittsburgh's Fort Pitt Hotel. With the first pick, the Washington Redskins selected halfback Harry Gilmer from the University of Alabama.

Coaching changes


  1. ^ a b c d "History (1941-1950)". NFL.com. National Football League. Archived from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  2. ^ Byrne, Kerry (July 18, 2010). "The Spirit of '48: a mind-blowing statistical orgasm". Cold Hard Football Facts (website). Archived from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved March 27, 2014.
  3. ^ "Record Breaking 2013 Season Had It All" (PDF). NFL. December 30, 2013. Archived (PDF) from the original on March 28, 2014. Retrieved February 3, 2014.
  4. ^ "Chicago Cardinals at Chicago Bears - December 12th, 1948 | Pro-Football-Reference.com". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  5. ^ "Cardinals' About Face Beats Bears, 24–21," Wisconsin State Journal (Madison), Dec 13, 1948, p13
1948 All-Pro Team

The 1948 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players who were chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team for the 1948 football season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Associated Press (AP), the United Press (UP), The Sporting News, and the New York Daily News. The AP and Sporting News selections included players from the National Football League (NFL) and All-America Football Conference; the UP selections were limited to players from the NFL.

1948 Chicago Cardinals season

The 1948 Chicago Cardinals season was the 29th season in franchise history. The Cardinals won the Western division on the final weekend at Wrigley Field over the cross-town Bears, and appeared in the NFL championship game for the second consecutive year. The defending champions lost 7–0 to the Eagles in a snowstorm in Philadelphia. It was their final postseason appearance as a Chicago team; they relocated southwest to St. Louis in 1960.

The Cardinals scored 395 points (32.9 per game) in 1948, the most in the ten-team NFL, and the second most all-time in a 12-game season. They also led the league in offensive yards, yards per play, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. The team's plus-169 point-differential remains the best in franchise history.

The 1948 NFL season produced more points-per-game per team than any other season, and according to Cold Hard Football Facts:

"Jimmy Conzelman's Chicago Cardinals were the best of the bunch. They led the NFL in scoring that year (32.9 [points-per-game]) and they produced what was probably the greatest four-week stretch of offense in pro football history. From October 17 to November 7, the 1948 Cardinals beat the Giants 63–35; the Boston Yanks, 49–27; the L.A. Rams 27–22; and the Lions, 56–20. That's a four-week average of 48.8 [points-per-game] for those of you keeping score at home.

"Yes, turnovers were common in 1948, so maybe that fact made life easier for offense. The Cardinals, for example, picked off 23 passes in 12 games. But they scored just two defensive touchdowns all year, while adding four on special teams. Mostly, they ripped off touchdowns, a remarkable 47 on offense. They kicked a mere eight field goals.

"Mostly, the offense was virtually unstoppable and it didn't settle often for the cheap, soccer-style field goals that pad offensive team totals today."

The Cardinals had three players in the top six in rushing in 1948: halfbacks Charley Trippi (690 yards), and Elmer Angsman (638), and fullback/linebacker/placekicker Pat Harder (554). Harder led the league in scoring in 1948, with 110 points (6 rushing touchdowns, 7 field goals, and 53 extra points). He was named the league's MVP by United Press International.

This was the Cardinals' last playoff game until 1974, although they did win the third place Playoff Bowl in Miami over Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers in January 1965. The Cardinals' next appearance in an NFL championship game was sixty years later in Super Bowl XLIII in January 2009.

Earl Maves

Earl Maves was a player in the National Football League. He was a member of the Detroit Lions during the 1948 NFL season.Maves died of Hodgkin's disease in 1952, having battled the disease for two years prior to his death.

Fred Venturelli

Fred Venturelli (August 22, 1917 – January 20, 1990) was an American footballer who played as a placekicker.

Ken Roskie

Kenneth Roskie (November 29, 1920 – August 18, 1986) was a player in the National Football League. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the thirty-second round of the 1943 NFL Draft. Later he went on to play for the San Francisco 49ers of the All-America Football Conference before splitting the 1948 NFL season between the Packers and the Detroit Lions.

Roskie later became a coach, including at Washington from 1951 to 1953.

Lloyd Baxter

Lloyd Thomas Baxter (January 18, 1923 – February 2, 2010) was a center in the National Football League.

Red Hickey

Howard Wayne "Red" Hickey (February 14, 1917 – March 30, 2006) was an American football player and coach. He played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1941 and the Cleveland / Los Angeles Rams from 1945 to 1948. Hickey served as head coach for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers from 1959 to 1963. He devised the shotgun formation in 1960.

Ted Cremer

Theodore Roosevelt Cremer Cremer (March 16, 1919 – November 1980) is a former American football player who played in the National Football League.

1948 NFL season
Early era
Modern era

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