1953 NFL season

The 1953 NFL season was the 34th regular season of the National Football League. The names of the American and National conferences were changed to the Eastern and Western conferences.

Meanwhile, a Baltimore, Maryland, group headed by Carroll Rosenbloom was granted an NFL team, and was awarded the holdings of the defunct Dallas Texans organization. The new team was named the Baltimore Colts, after the previous team that folded after the 1950 season. The 12 teams of this NFL season continued for the rest of the 1950s; these teams became known as "old-line" teams as they predated the 1960 launch of the American Football League.

The 1953 season ended on December 27 with the NFL championship game; the Detroit Lions defeated the Cleveland Browns for the second year in a row.

1953 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 27 –
December 13, 1953
East ChampionsCleveland Browns
West ChampionsDetroit Lions
Championship Game
ChampionsDetroit Lions

Major rule changes

  • The definition of illegal motion is clarified. A player must be moving directly forward at the snap to be considered illegally in motion.

Conference races

For 1953, the former American and National Conferences of the previous three seasons were renamed the Eastern and Western Conferences, respectively. The Western race saw the Rams beat the Lions twice, in Detroit (October 18) and in L.A. (November 1), and at the midway point in Week Six, the Rams were a full game ahead in the race. In Week Seven (November 8), the 49ers beat the Rams 31–27, and the Lions won their game, to put all three teams at 5–2–0. In Week Eight, the Lions beat Green Bay 14–7, while the Rams were tied 24–24 by the Cards, and the 49ers lost 23–21 to the Browns. As both teams won their remaining games, San Francisco was always a game behind Detroit.

In the Eastern, the Cleveland Browns won their first eleven games and led wire-to-wire, clinching a playoff spot by week 10. Their shot at a 12–0–0 regular season was spoiled by a 42–27 loss in the finale on December 13, and tarnished further by the championship game loss to the Lions two weeks later.

Week Western Record Eastern Record
1 4 teams 1–0–0 Tie (Cle, Was) 1–0–0
2 Tie (Det, SF) 2–0–0 Cleveland Browns 2–0–0
3 Detroit Lions 3–0–0 Cleveland Browns 3–0–0
4 3 teams 3–1–0 Cleveland Browns 4–0–0
5 Tie (Det, LA) 4–1–0 Cleveland Browns 5–0–0
6 Los Angeles Rams 5–1–0 Cleveland Browns 6–0–0
7 3 teams 5–2–0 Cleveland Browns 7–0–0
8 Detroit Lions 6–2–0 Cleveland Browns 8–0–0
9 Detroit Lions 7–2–0 Cleveland Browns 9–0–0
10 Detroit Lions 8–2–0 Cleveland Browns 10–0–0
11 Detroit Lions 9–2–0 Cleveland Browns 11–0–0
12 Detroit Lions 10–2–0 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

Eastern Conference
Cleveland Browns 11 1 0 .917 348 162
Philadelphia Eagles 7 4 1 .636 352 215
Washington Redskins 6 5 1 .545 208 215
Pittsburgh Steelers 6 6 0 .500 211 263
New York Giants 3 9 0 .250 179 277
Chicago Cardinals 1 10 1 .091 190 337
Western Conference
Detroit Lions 10 2 0 .833 271 205
San Francisco 49ers 9 3 0 .750 372 237
Los Angeles Rams 8 3 1 .727 366 236
Chicago Bears 3 8 1 .273 218 262
Baltimore Colts 3 9 0 .250 182 350
Green Bay Packers 2 9 1 .182 200 338

NFL Championship Game

Detroit 17, Cleveland 16 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, on December 27, 1953


League leaders

Statistic Name Team Yards
Passing Otto Graham Cleveland 2,722
Rushing Joe Perry San Francisco 1,018
Receiving Pete Pihos Philadelphia 1,049


American Conference

National Conference


  • 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)
1953 All-Pro Team

The 1953 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 1953 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Associated Press (AP) (based on voting among 48 member paper sports writers and AP staffers), the United Press (UP), and the New York Daily News.

Baltimore Colts relocation to Indianapolis

The Baltimore Colts relocation to Indianapolis was a successful effort by Colts owner Robert Irsay to move his American football team from Baltimore, Maryland to Indianapolis, Indiana following the 1983 National Football League season. The team began play as the Indianapolis Colts for the 1984 National Football League (NFL) season.

Although there had been talks that the Colts might leave Baltimore, as the city was at the time unwilling to build a new stadium to replace the inadequate Memorial Stadium and Irsay had been negotiating with other cities about potential relocation, the move itself came as a surprise to many due to the manner in which the Colts departed. The franchise's move continues to embitter many Baltimore natives decades afterward, and has had a lasting impact on the NFL, including another controversial relocation twelve years later that resulted in Baltimore receiving its current NFL team, the Ravens.

Don Barton

Don Barton (May 29, 1930 – July 16, 2006) was a former halfback in the National Football League.

Don Doll

Donald LeRoy Doll (August 29, 1926 – September 22, 2010), formerly Don Burnside, was an American football player and coach.

Doll played college football for the USC Trojans (1944, 1946–1948) and professional football in the National Football League with the Detroit Lions (1949–1953), Washington Redskins (1954) and Los Angeles Rams (1955). He was selected to play in each of the first four Pro Bowls and was named the Most Valuable Player in the 1952 season Pro Bowl. He played safety on the 1952 Detroit Lions team that won the NFL championship. He tied an NFL record in 1949 with four interceptions in a single game and is the only player in NFL history to have 10 or more interceptions in each of three different seasons (1949, 1950 and 1953). When he retired at the end of the 1954 season, he was the NFL's all-time leader with 41 interceptions.

After retiring as a player, Doll worked as a football coach for 34 years, serving as the head coach at West Contra Costa Junior College in 1956 and as an assistant coach with the University of Washington (1955), USC (1957–1958), Notre Dame (1959–1962), Detroit Lions (1963–1964), Los Angeles Rams (1965), Washington Redskins (1966–1970), Green Bay Packers (1971–1973), Baltimore Colts (1974), Miami Dolphins (1975–1976), San Francisco 49ers (1977) and Detroit Lions (1978–1988). During his NFL career, he was associated with the game's legendary coaches, as a player for Curly Lambeau and an assistant coach under Vince Lombardi and Don Shula.

Don Heinrich

Donald Alan Heinrich (September 19, 1930 – February 29, 1992) was an American football player, coach, and announcer. He played professionally as a quarterback in National Football League (NFL) for the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, and in the American Football League (AFL) for the Oakland Raiders. Heinrich played college football at the University of Washington.

Ed Mioduszewski

Edward "Ed" Thomas Mioduszewski (October 28, 1931 - September 8, 2010) was a professional American football player for the National Football League's Baltimore Colts. He played quarterback in 12 games, starting one, during the 1953 NFL season. Mioduszewski played college football at William & Mary, where as a senior in 1952 he was named a Second Team All-American by the Associated Press.Mioduszewski died on September 8, 2010, at the age of 78.

Gern Nagler

Gern Nagler (born February 23, 1932) is a former American football end who played eight seasons in the National Football League (NFL).

Nagler attended Marysville High School in Marysville, California. He later played college football at the University of Santa Clara, and was a captain of the varsity football team in his senior year.He was drafted in the 14th round of the 1953 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns. Prior to the season starting, the Browns completed a fifteen-player trade -- which set the NFL record for the largest trade ever executed -- that sent Nagler and nine other players to the Baltimore Colts. The Colts then waived him prior to the start of the 1953 NFL season. He was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cardinals. In his rookie season, Nagler set the Cardinals team record for receptions in a rookie season, with 43.Nagler missed the 1954 NFL season due to military service. While posted at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Nagler helped coach the base football team to a perfect 12-0 record and the All-Service Championship, winning the 1954 Poinsettia Bowl.He returned to the Cardinals in 1955, spending the next four seasons with the club. Nagler earned a Pro Bowl selection in 1958.Following his Pro Bowl year, Nagler was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers and spent one season with the team. He was moved to the Cleveland Browns as part of a four-player New Year's Eve trade that included Steelers quarterback Len Dawson. Nagler finished his playing career after the 1961 NFL season, after two seasons with the Browns.Nagler was involved with the early efforts to organize a players' union, and was a key figure in the creation of the first players' pension. Nagler and Cleveland Browns end Billy Howton presented NFL Commissioner Bert Bell with a draft anti-trust lawsuit, threatening to file if the NFL did not immediately establish a pension for its players. The gambit worked, and the pension was formally established three years later.

Larry Coutre

Lawrence Edward Coutre (April 11, 1928 – May 19, 2008) was a halfback in the National Football League.

Lou Tepe

Louis Charles "Lou" Tepe (born June 18, 1930) is a former professional American football player who played offensive lineman for three seasons for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Marvin Johnson (American football)

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

Mike Nixon

Michael Regis Nixon (November 21, 1911 – September 22, 2000) was an American football player, coach and scout who spent close to a half-century connected to the game. His most prominent positions were as head coach of the National Football League's Washington Redskins and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Norb Hecker

Norbert Earl Hecker (May 26, 1927 – March 14, 2004) was an American football player and coach who was part of eight National Football League championship teams, but may be best remembered as the first head coach of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.

1953 NFL season
Early era
Modern era

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