1954 NFL season

The 1954 NFL season was the 35th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended when the Cleveland Browns defeated the Detroit Lions in the NFL Championship Game.

1954 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 26 –
December 26, 1954
East ChampionsCleveland Browns
West ChampionsDetroit Lions
Championship Game
ChampionsCleveland Browns

Major rule changes

  • Whenever it is raining, or whenever the field is wet and slippery, the offensive team can request a new, dry playable ball at any time.

Conference races

In the Western Division, the 49ers pulled ahead in Week Five (October 24) with a 37–31 win over the Lions, but they lost four of their remaining seven games and finished 7–4–1. The Lions, on the other hand, lost only one game in their last seven, and finished 9–2–1. In the Eastern race, the Eagles got off to a 4–0 start, until dropping games to Pittsburgh (17–7) and Green Bay (37–14) to fall into a 3-way tie with the Giants and Steelers. The Browns, who got off to a 1–2 start, went on an 8-game winning streak, gradually catching up with a Halloween win over New York (24–14). A 6–0 win over Philadelphia on November 21 gave them the conference lead, and a 16–7 rematch win in New York the next week extended the margin. The Browns' streak was ended on December 19 with a 14–10 loss to the Lions. When the teams met in Cleveland again the next week (this time for the championship), the Browns won 56–10.

Week Western Eastern
1 3 teams (Det, LA, SF) 1–0–0 3 teams (NYG, Phi, Pit) 1–0–0
2 3 teams (Det, LA, SF) 1–0–1 Tie (Phi, Pit) 2–0–0
3 Tie (Det, SF) 2–0–1 Philadelphia Eagles 3–0–0
4 Tie (Det, SF) 3–0–1 Philadelphia Eagles 4–0–0
5 San Francisco 49ers 4–0–1 3 teams (NYG, PHI, PIT) 4–1–0
6 Tie (Det, SF) 4–1–1 3 teams (NYG, PHI, PIT) 4–2–0
7 Detroit Lions 5–1–0 Tie (NYG, PHI) 5–2–0
8 Detroit Lions 6–1–0 New York Giants 6–2–0
9 Detroit Lions 7–1–0 Cleveland Browns 6–2–0
10 Detroit Lions 8–1–0 Cleveland Browns 7–2–0
11 Detroit Lions 8–1–1 Cleveland Browns 8–2–0
12 Detroit Lions 8–2–1 Cleveland Browns 9–2–0
13 Detroit Lions 9–2–1 Cleveland Browns 9–3–0

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 9 3 0 .750 336 162
Philadelphia Eagles 7 4 1 .636 284 230
New York Giants 7 5 0 .583 293 184
Pittsburgh Steelers 5 7 0 .417 219 263
Washington Redskins 3 9 0 .250 207 432
Chicago Cardinals 2 10 0 .167 183 347
Western Conference
Detroit Lions 9 2 1 .818 337 189
Chicago Bears 8 4 0 .667 301 279
San Francisco 49ers 7 4 1 .636 313 251
Los Angeles Rams 6 5 1 .545 314 285
Green Bay Packers 4 8 0 .333 234 251
Baltimore Colts 3 9 0 .250 131 279

NFL Championship Game

Cleveland 56, Detroit 10 at Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio, December 26, 1954


League leaders

Statistic Name Team Yards
Passing Norm Van Brocklin Los Angeles 2637
Rushing Joe Perry San Francisco 1049
Receiving Bob Boyd Los Angeles 1212


The 1954 NFL Draft was held on January 28, 1954 at Philadelphia's Bellevue-Stratford Hotel. With the first pick, the Cleveland Browns selected quarterback Bobby Garrett from Stanford University.


Eastern Conference

Western 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)
1954 All-Pro Team

The Associated Press (AP), New York Daily News (NYDN), The Sporting News (TSN), and United Press (UP) were among selectors of All-Pro teams comprising players adjudged to be the best at each position in the National Football League (NFL) during the 1954 NFL season. The AP, NYDN, and UP selected a first and second team.

Bob Mann (American football)

Robert Mann (April 8, 1924 – October 21, 2006) was an American football end. A native of New Bern, North Carolina, Mann played college football at Hampton Institute in 1942 and 1943 and at the University of Michigan in 1944, 1946 and 1947. He broke the Big Ten Conference record for receiving yardage in 1946 and again in 1947. Mann later played professional football in the National Football League (NFL) for the Detroit Lions (1948–1949) and Green Bay Packers (1950–1954). He was the first African American player for both teams.

Mann led the NFL in receiving yardage (1,014 yards) and yards per reception (15.4) in 1949. Mann was asked to take a pay cut after the 1949 season and became a "holdout" when the Lions opened practice in July 1950. He was traded to the New York Yankees in August 1950 and released three weeks later. Mann charged that he had been "railroaded" out of professional football for refusing to take a pay cut. He signed with the Green Bay Packers near the end of the 1950 NFL season and was the Packers' leading receiver in 1951. He remained with the Packers through the 1954 season. He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1988.

After his football career, Mann became a lawyer and practiced law in Detroit.

Bob Topp

Eugene Robert Topp (April 22, 1932 in Kalamazoo, Michigan – April 4, 2017) was an American football player. He played college football for the University of Michigan from 1952 to 1953 under head coach Bennie Oosterbaan. In 1953, he was selected as a first-team All-Big Ten Conference end by both the Associated Press and the United Press. He played professional football for the New York Giants in 1954 and 1956.

Don King (defensive lineman)

Donald William King (March 11, 1929 – April 15, 2014) was a defensive tackle in the National Football League.

Don Luft

Donald Richard Luft (February 14, 1930 – June 19, 2002) was a defensive end in the National Football League. He played with the Philadelphia Eagles during the 1954 NFL season.

Gene White (American football)

Gene White is a former defensive back in the National Football League. He played with the Green Bay Packers during the 1954 NFL season.

George Brancato

George Brancato (born May 27, 1931) is an American former gridiron football player and coach.

Both an offensive and defensive player in college, he played five games for the Chicago Cardinals during the 1954 NFL season. He rushed the ball twice for 26 yards and caught three passes for 28 yards. In 1955 he played in the Cardinals' defensive backfield. He joined the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League as halfback for the 1956 season. He played defensive back for the Ottawa Rough Riders for seven seasons, occasionally playing on offense.

After his retirement, he taught phys ed at Laval High and Montreal's Loyola High School before returning to Ottawa as an assistant coach. In 1974 he was promoted to head coach after Coach of the Year Jack Gotta left to become head coach and general manager of the World Football League's Birmingham Americans. In 1975 he won the Annis Stukus Trophy as CFL's Coach of the Year after a first place 10-5-1 finish. The following season, he defeated the Saskatchewan Roughriders, 23–20, in the 64th Grey Cup. In 1981, his 5–11 Rough Riders came close to causing a massive upset in that year's Grey Cup versus the Edmonton Eskimos. After a 4–12 1984 season he was relieved of his coaching duties and appointed director of player personnel.

In 1989, he was hired to coach the Chicago Bruisers of the Arena Football League. After the team folded he served as an assistant under Ernie Stautner with the expansion Dallas Texans.

He returned to Ottawa in 1993 as Ron Smeltzer's special teams and secondary coach. The following season, he served as the offensive coordinator of the Shreveport Pirates. His next coaching job was as Defensive coordinator of the Anaheim Piranhas. In 1999, he returned to the AFL with the Florida Bobcats as the team's defensive coordinator. It was his final coaching job as he retired at the end of the season.

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.

Jim Schrader

James Lee Schrader (June 8, 1932 – January 1972) was an American football center and tackle in the National Football League for the Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles from 1954 to 1964.

Schrader attended and played college football at the University of Notre Dame and was then drafted by the Redskins in the second round of the 1954 NFL Draft.

With the nickname "Big Jim" and listed at 6'-2" and 244 lbs, Schrader played in 116 NFL games, starting 48 of them.Even though, in his 10-year career, Jim never played for a team that finished with a winning record. he was a Pro Bowl selection in 1958, 1959 and 1961.

John Bauer (American football)

John Richard Bauer (born March 11, 1932) is a former American football guard and tackle who played for the National Football League's (NFL) New York Giants.

Born in Benton, Illinois, Bauer attended the University of Illinois, where he played for the school's football team from 1951 to 1953. In the first round of the 1954 NFL Draft, the Cleveland Browns chose him with the 12th overall pick. In August 1954, Bauer was traded to the Green Bay Packers as part of a six-player transaction. A month later, the Giants acquired Bauer from the Packers in another trade. Bauer played in two games for the Giants during the 1954 NFL season as a backup. He went into the Army and returned to the Giants in 1957, but left the team before the start of the season.

Lou Mihajlovich

Louis Mihajlovich (February 19, 1925 – December 11, 1994) is a former defensive end in the National Football League.

Menil Mavraides

Menil Mavraides (born 1931) is a former guard for the Philadelphia Eagles football team in 1954 and 1957. With the nickname "Minnie", he was listed at 6' 2" and 220 lbs.

Ted Daffer

Terrell Edwin "Ted" Daffer (September 24, 1929 – March 1, 2006) was an American football player. He played college football for the Tennessee Volunteers football team at the guard position from 1949 to 1951. He was selected by the American Football Coaches Association, the Associated Press, the Football Writers Association of America and the International News Service (INS) as a first-team guard on the 1950 College Football All-America Team. The following year, he was again selected by the INS and the Newspaper Enterprise Association as a first-team player on the 1951 All-America Team. Daffer was selected by the Chicago Bears in the 21st round of the 1952 NFL Draft. After two years of service in the United States Army, he played for the Bears during the 1954 NFL season. He later played for the Ottawa Rough Riders in the Canadian Football League.

1954 NFL season
Early era
Modern era

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