1951 NFL season

The 1951 NFL season was the 32nd regular season of the National Football League. Prior to the season, Baltimore Colts owner Abraham Watner faced financial difficulties, and thus gave his team and its player contracts back to the league for $50,000. However, many Baltimore fans started to protest the loss of their team. Supporting groups such as its fan club and its marching band remained in operation and worked for the team's revival (which eventually led to a new Baltimore team in 1953).

For the first time, the NFL Championship Game was televised across the nation. The DuMont Television Network paid $75,000 to broadcast the game. Viewers coast-to-coast watched the Los Angeles Rams defeat the Cleveland Browns 24–17.

1951 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 28 –
December 16, 1951
American Conf. ChampionsCleveland Browns
National Conf. ChampionsLos Angeles Rams
Championship Game
ChampionsLos Angeles Rams

Major rule changes

  • No offensive tackle, guard, or center would be eligible to catch or touch a forward pass.
  • Aluminum shoe cleats are banned.

Regular season highlights

  • In Week One (September 30), the defending champions, the Cleveland Browns, opened with a loss, falling to their old AAFC rival in San Francisco, 24–10; the Giants tied the Steelers 13–13 in a Monday night game on national radio.
  • Week Four (October 21) in Detroit, the Lions had a 24–17 win cancelled when the New York Yanks tied the game, which would be important later.
  • In Week Five (October 28), The Browns beat the Giants 14–13 on a missed extra point, putting Cleveland half a game ahead to lead the American Conference. In Detroit, the Bears' Ed Sprinkle blocked a punt that Bill Wightkin fell on in the end zone for a 28–23 victory, while the Rams lost 44–17 to the 49ers, giving the Bears the lead in the National.
  • Week Seven (November 11) saw the Browns trailing the Eagles at home before preserving their American Conference lead with a 20–17 win. The Rams' 45–21 win over the Cardinals, and the Bears' 41–28 loss to the Lions, gave the Rams and Bears 5–2–0 records.
  • In Week Eight (November 18), the Giants hosted a rematch with the Browns and lost again, 10–0; the Giants would finish 9–2–1, with both losses courtesy of the 11–1–0 Browns.
  • Week Nine began with a Thursday night game in Detroit, in which the Lions beat Green Bay, 52–35, to raise its record to 6–2–1. On (November 25), the Browns beat the Bears, 42–21, in Cleveland. The Browns were penalized 22 times, but still salvaged the victory. Consequently, the 22 in-game infractions committed by the Browns made Cleveland the first NFL team to win a game, despite being penalized that many times.[1] The Rams also lost, 31–21, at Washington, and both fell to 6–3–0, giving the Lions the National Conference lead. Meanwhile, the New York Yanks played spoiler again, tying the 49ers, 10–10, while staying winless at 0–7–2. As with Detroit's earlier tie with the Yanks, the 49ers would regret having a win taken away later.
  • In Week Ten (December 2), the 49ers beat the Lions 20–10, while the Rams triumphed over the Bears 42–17, giving L.A. the top spot in a tight National Conference race. The New York Yanks finally won a game, 31–28 at Green Bay.
  • In the penultimate regular games of the season in Week Eleven December 9, the Lions held the Rams to field goals five times, and the lone L.A. touchdown wasn't enough to keep Detroit from winning 24–22. Meanwhile, wins by the Bears and the 49ers made a four team National Conference race, with Lions (7–3–1) in front of the Rams and Bears (both 7–4–0) and the 49ers (6–4–1) with one game left. But for the tying scores that had been made by the mediocre Yanks, the Lions and 49ers would have been 8–3 and 7–4.
  • Detroit, which had lost at home to San Francisco a week before, would face them again on the coast on December 16 in Week Twelve. The Lions led by 3 points in San Francisco with one quarter left, but lost the game 21–17, along with the National Conference title as both teams finished 7–4–1. The Bears were stunned by the Cardinals, 24–14, finishing 7–5–0. The Los Angeles Rams, who had been tied with the Green Bay 14–14 at halftime, poured on four touchdowns in the second half for a 42–14 win, an 8–4–0 record, and the right to host Cleveland in the 1951 NFL championship. At Yankee Stadium, only 6,658 spectators turned out to watch the last game ever for the New York Yanks, who lost to the crosstown Giants 27–17.[2]

Conference races

Week National American
1 4 teams (Bears, DET, LA, SF) 1–0–0 Philadelphia Eagles 1–0–0
2 Detroit Lions 2–0–0 Philadelphia Eagles 2–0–0
3 5 teams (Bears, Det., GB, L.A.,S.F.) 2–1–0 New York Giants 2–0–1
4 Tie (Bears, Rams) 3–1–0 New York Giants 3–0–1
5 Chicago Bears 4–1–0 Cleveland Browns 4–1–0
6 Chicago Bears 5–1–0 Cleveland Browns 5–1–0
7 Tie (Bears, Rams) 5–2–0 Cleveland Browns 6–1–0
8 Tie (Bears, Rams) 6–2–0 Cleveland Browns 7–1–0
9 Detroit Lions 6–2–1 Cleveland Browns 8–1–0
10 Los Angeles Rams 7–3–0 Cleveland Browns 9–1–0
11 Detroit Lions 7–3–1 Cleveland Browns 10–1–0
12 Los Angeles Rams 8–4–0 Cleveland Browns 11–1–0

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

American Conference
Cleveland Browns 11 1 0 .917 331 152
New York Giants 9 2 1 .818 254 161
Washington Redskins 5 7 0 .417 183 296
Pittsburgh Steelers 4 7 1 .364 183 235
Philadelphia Eagles 4 8 0 .333 234 264
Chicago Cardinals 3 9 0 .250 210 287
National Conference
Los Angeles Rams 8 4 0 .667 392 261
Detroit Lions 7 4 1 .636 336 259
San Francisco 49ers 7 4 1 .636 255 205
Chicago Bears 7 5 0 .583 286 282
Green Bay Packers 3 9 0 .250 254 375
New York Yanks 1 9 2 .100 241 382

NFL Championship Game

Los Angeles 24, Cleveland 17 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, December 23, 1951


League leaders

Statistic Name Team Yards
Passing Bobby Layne Detroit 2403
Rushing Eddie Price New York Giants 971
Receiving Elroy Hirsch Los Angeles 1495


The 1951 NFL Draft was held from January 18-19, 1951 at Chicago's Blackstone Hotel. With the first pick, the New York Giants selected halfback Kyle Rote from Southern Methodist University.

Coaching changes




  1. ^ http://www.nj.com/jets/index.ssf/2013/09/kyle_wilson_is_chief_culprit_as_jets_commit_franchise-record_20_penalties.html
  2. ^ "Rams Batter Packers for Division Title in Pro Grid Loop," The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), Dec 17, 1951, p11
  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 1951–1960 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
1951 All-Pro Team

The 1951 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 1951 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Associated Press (AP) (chosen in a national poll of AP football writers), the United Press (UP) (selected by UP sports writers), and the New York Daily News.The All-Pro selections were dominated by players from the Cleveland Browns (nine first-team honorees including Otto Graham and Lou Groza), New York Giants (seven honorees including Emlen Tunnell), Los Angeles Rams (six first-team honorees including Elroy Hirsch), and Detroit Lions (four first-team honorees including Doak Walker).

This was the first year that separate defensive and offensive teams were selected as up until this point most players had played both ways for much of the game (although this had decreased in the later 1940s), so a quarterback/tailback/ halfback on offense usually just became a defensive back similar to today's safety when playing defense while the fullback, usually a larger player, or a larger halfback (and before the T-formation, the quarterback, who was usually actually a blocking back on offence), would play a position similar to linebacker. Ends would also usually convert to defensive backs, similar to corner backs of today.

Bob Momsen

Robert Edward "Bob" Momsen (May 28, 1929 - May 25, 2010) was an American football player. He was a first-team All-American at Ohio State in 1950.

Bud Grant

Harry Peter "Bud" Grant Jr. (born May 20, 1927) is a former head coach and player of American football, Canadian football, and a former basketball player in the NBA. Grant served as the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings of the National Football League (NFL) for eighteen seasons; he was the team's second (1967–83) and fourth (1985) head coach. Before coaching the Vikings, he was the head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League (CFL) for ten seasons, winning the Grey Cup four times. Grant is the most successful coach in Vikings history, and the third most successful professional football coach overall (behind Don Shula and George Halas), with a combined 290 wins in the NFL and CFL. Grant was elected to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994. He was the first coach in the history of professional football to guide teams to the Grey Cup and the Super Bowl.

Grant attended the University of Minnesota and was a three-sport athlete, in football, basketball, and baseball. After college, he played for the Minneapolis Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL, and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL.

On October 23, 2014, a statue of Grant was unveiled in front of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' new stadium, Investors Group Field.

Buddy Young

Claude Henry K. "Buddy" Young (January 5, 1926 – September 5, 1983) was an American football player and track and field athlete. A native of Chicago, he was Illinois state champ in the 100-yard dash. The 5'4" Young, also known as the "Bronze Bullet", had exceptional quickness and acceleration. He is one of the shortest men ever to play in the National Football League (NFL). As a track star at the University of Illinois, he won the National Collegiate Championships in the 100 and 220-yard dash, tied the world record for the 45 and 60-yard dashes (6.1 in the latter event), and was the Amateur Athletic Union's 100-meter champion.

Cowboys–Steelers rivalry

The Cowboys–Steelers rivalry is a rivalry in the NFL. The Cowboys currently lead the all-time series 17–15. As the two teams met in the Super Bowl 3 times and play in different conferences (In which the Dallas Cowboys are in the NFC East and the Pittsburgh Steelers are in the AFC North), they only meet once every 4 regular seasons and occasionally in the preseason.

Dick Moje

Dick Moje is an American former professional football defensive end in the National Football League. He played with the Green Bay Packers during the 1951 NFL season and appeared in two games.

Hamilton Nichols

Hamilton J. Nichols, Jr. (October 18, 1924 – July 6, 2013) was a guard in the National Football League (NFL). He played his first three seasons with the Chicago Cardinals. After a season away from the NFL, he played with the Green Bay Packers during the 1951 NFL season. Nichols played college football at Rice University and was a member of the 1944 College Football All-America Team.

Harper Davis

Julius Harper Davis Jr. (born December 11, 1925) is a former American football player and coach. He played professionally as a defensive back in the All-America Football Conference and the National Football League (NFL). Davis served as the head football coach at Millsaps College from 1964 to 1988, compiling a record of 136–81–4.

Herman Ball

Herman Ball (May 9, 1910 – January 12, 1999) was a football player and coach who was a long-time assistant in the National Football League and served as head coach of the Washington Redskins from 1949 to 1951.

A native of Elkins, West Virginia, Ball attended Davis & Elkins College for three years beginning in 1932, helping the 1933 squad finish the season as the highest scoring team in college football with 345 points. Following his graduation, his first coaching position came in his home state as head coach at Ridgeley High School.

The following year, he moved south to begin a seven-year stint in Cumberland, Maryland, as head coach at Allegany High School. In his inaugural season at the helm, Allegany finished undefeated, the first of three spotless campaigns during his tenure, the others coming in 1940 and 1941. By the time he departed for the University of Maryland in 1943, he had compiled an impressive mark of 56-13-1.

Ball became an assistant with the Terrapins' football team, and also helped coach the school's baseball and basketball teams. During his third and final year in that role, he worked under the legendary Bear Bryant. Ball also worked part-time as a scout for the Redskins during the 1945 season, then joined the team the following year when he was hired as line coach.

On November 7, 1949, Redskins' first-year head coach John Whelchel was dismissed with the team sporting a 3-3-1 mark, with Ball being elevated to the position. In the team's final five games, Ball managed only one more win, then struggled the next year with a 3-9 mark, the worst record ever (at the time) for the franchise. Despite the miserable fortunes of the team, due in part to Ball's attempt at balancing the team's offensive attack with more of a running game, player loyalty and fan popularity helped Ball earn another year on the sidelines.

That term would be a short one when the Redskins began the 1951 NFL season with an 0-3 start. Ball was fired on October 18, a decision that helped bring about a bizarre situation in which his successor, former Bears assistant Hunk Anderson, was announced as Washington's new head coach, but was prevented from starting his new job because of contract issues with Chicago's George Halas. After refusing to provide compensation for Anderson, Redskin owner George Preston Marshall hired Ball's assistant, Dick Todd.

Serving as Washington's chief scout, Ball also returned to the sidelines as a Redskins' assistant until he resigned on December 17, 1954. He was hired three weeks later as an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, spending one season in the Steel City until taking a similar position on February 2, 1956, under Weeb Ewbank with the Baltimore Colts.

Over the next seven years, Ball would help the team capture consecutive NFL titles in 1958 and 1959. When Don Shula replaced Ewbank after the 1962 NFL season, Ball was dismissed and signed as offensive line coach of the American Football League's Buffalo Bills on February 9, 1963. He spent one year there until returning to the NFL when former Redskins head coach Joe Kuharich took over the same role with the Philadelphia Eagles.

In five seasons, the team's best finish was in 1966, when they finished 9-5 and competed in the Playoff Bowl, but following a 2-12 finish in 1968, Kuharich and his staff were fired, although Ball remained as the team's director of player personnel. He remained in that role until announcing his retirement on December 23, 1977, staying on as a consultant until the end of the 1986 NFL season.

He died at the age of 88 at a Paoli, Pennsylvania, hospital of complications from a heart ailment.

Jug Girard

Earl Francis "Jug" Girard (January 25, 1927 – January 17, 1997) was an American football player. He played ten seasons in the National Football League (NFL) as an end, halfback, quarterback, punter, kickoff returner, defensive back, and punt returner. He played for the Green Bay Packers (1948-1951), Detroit Lions (1952-1956), and Pittsburgh Steelers (1957). He won two NFL Championships with the Lions in 1952 and 1953. He played college football at the University of Wisconsin in 1944 and 1947 and was selected as a first-team All-American halfback at age 17 in 1944.

Marvin Johnson (American football)

Marvin Leland Johnson (April 13, 1927 – February 8, 1981) was a player in the National Football League.

National Football League franchise moves and mergers

Throughout the years, a number of teams in the National Football League (NFL) have either moved or merged.

In the early years, the NFL was not stable and teams moved frequently to survive, or were folded only to be resurrected in a different city with the same players and owners. The Great Depression era saw the movement of most surviving small-town NFL teams to the large cities to ensure survival. Franchise mergers were popular during World War II in response to the scarcity of players. Few of these relocations and mergers were accompanied with widespread controversy.

Franchise moves became far more controversial in the late 20th century when a vastly more popular NFL, free from financial instability, allowed many franchises to abandon long-held strongholds for perceived financially greener pastures. Despite a Pete Rozelle promise to Congress not to relocate franchises in return for a law exempting the league from certain aspects of antitrust laws, making possible the AFL–NFL merger, several franchises have relocated in the years since the merger and the passage of the law (Public Law 89-800) which sanctioned it.

While owners invariably cited financial difficulties as the primary factor in such moves, many fans bitterly disputed these contentions, especially in Baltimore, St. Louis, and Cleveland, each of which eventually received teams some years after their original franchises left. However, Los Angeles, the second-largest media market in the United States, did not have an NFL team from 1995 to 2015. The league had started actively promoting a return to Los Angeles no later than 2006, and in January 2016, the NFL gave the St. Louis Rams approval to move back to Los Angeles. A year later, the San Diego Chargers also relocated to the city, while the Oakland Raiders are scheduled to relocate to Las Vegas in 2019 or 2020.

Within the United States, the San Diego–Tijuana market is currently the largest metropolitan area (and only one with over 3 million residents) without an NFL franchise. The only other city to be seriously considered in the country in recent times was San Antonio, Texas, which the Raiders seriously considered as a relocation candidate in 2014 before choosing Las Vegas instead. Speculation on future relocation has mainly been centered around two larger cities outside the United States: Toronto, Canada (q.v. National Football League in Toronto) and London, England, United Kingdom (q.v. Potential London NFL franchise), the latter of which would be the first attempt by one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada to place a team outside North America.

Additionally, with the increasing suburbanization of the U.S., the building of new stadiums and other team facilities in the suburbs instead of the central city became popular from the 1970s on, though at the turn of the 21st century a reverse shift back to the central city became somewhat evident.

Tony Momsen

Anton Henry "Tony" Momsen, Jr. (January 29, 1928 – March 6, 1994) was an American football center in the National Football League for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Washington Redskins. He played college football at the University of Michigan in 1945, 1949 and 1950, and is most remembered for scoring the winning touchdown in the 1950 Snow Bowl game between Michigan and Ohio State.


WGN-TV, virtual channel 9 (UHF digital channel 19), is an independent television station licensed to Chicago, Illinois, United States. It serves as the flagship television property of the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of Tribune Media and is one of the company's three flagship media properties, alongside news/talk/sports radio station WGN (720 AM) and local cable news channel Chicagoland Television (CLTV). The station's second and third digital subchannels respectively serve as owned-and-operated stations of Tribune's two national over-the-air multicast services, classic television network Antenna TV and movie-focused general entertainment network This TV (the latter being a joint venture with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer), both of which are headquartered at the WGN studios.

WGN-TV maintains studio facilities and offices at 2501 West Bradley Place—between North Campbell and North Talman Avenues, near the Lane Tech High School campus—in Chicago's North Center community (as such, it is the only major commercial television station in Chicago which bases its main studio outside the downtown business district); its transmitter is located atop the Willis Tower on South Wacker Drive in the Chicago Loop. On cable, WGN-TV is available locally on Comcast Xfinity channels 9 (SD) and 192 (HD), WOW! channels 9 (SD) and 206 (HD), RCN channels 9 (SD) and 609 (HD), and AT&T U-verse channels 9 (SD) and 1009 (HD).

As with concept progenitor WTBS in Atlanta, WGN-TV was a pioneering superstation, becoming the second U.S. television station to be made available via satellite transmission to cable and direct-broadcast satellite subscribers nationwide on November 8, 1978. The former "superstation" feed, WGN America, was converted by Tribune into a conventional basic cable network in December 2014, at which time it removed all WGN-TV-produced local programs from its schedule and began to be carried on cable providers within the Chicago market (including Xfinity, U-verse, WOW! and RCN) alongside its existing local carriage on satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network. Although the Chicago station is no longer available within the United States on conventional pay television providers outside of its home market, WGN-TV continues to be available domestically via Channel Master's LinearTV service and as a de facto superstation on most Canadian cable and satellite providers.

WGN Sports

WGN Sports (orignally known as WGN-TV Sports from 1948 to 1993) is the programming division of WGN-TV (channel 9), an independent television station located in Chicago, Illinois, United States – which is owned by the Tribune Broadcasting subsidiary of Tribune Media – that is responsible for all sports broadcasts on the station, some of which were previously also broadcast on its former national superstation feed, WGN America.

WGN Sports currently produces telecasts from four of Chicago's six major professional sports teams, the Chicago Cubs (MLB), Chicago White Sox (MLB), Chicago Bulls (NBA) and Chicago Blackhawks (NHL). Since the inception of the sports programming unit, the station has produced ancillary pre-game and post-game shows for most of its sporting events, including The Lead-Off Man (pre-game) and The Tenth Inning (post-game) for its Cubs and White Sox baseball telecasts and BullsEye for its telecasts of Bulls basketball games. In addition to those shown over WGN-TV within the Chicago market, game telecasts produced by the station are also syndicated to television stations in other parts of Illinois as well as portions of Indiana and Iowa that are within the respective broadcast territories of the contracted teams.

1951 NFL season
Early era
Modern era

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