1956 NFL season

The 1956 NFL season was the 37th regular season of the National Football League.

With previous television partner DuMont Television Network ending operations prior to the 1956 season, CBS began carrying regular season games across its network nationwide.

The season ended when the New York Giants crushed the Chicago Bears in the NFL Championship Game, 47–7.

1956 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 30 –
December 23, 1956
East ChampionsNew York Giants
West ChampionsChicago Bears
Championship Game
ChampionsNew York Giants

Major rule changes

  • It is now illegal to grab an opponent's facemask (other than the ball carrier).
  • Using radio receivers to communicate with players on the field is prohibited.
  • The ball for night games was changed from white with black stripes to brown with white stripes.

Conference races

The Lions and the Cardinals had both finished 1955 poorly, 3–9 and 4–7–1, but both got off to fast starts in 1956. Both ended up finishing second in the Conference races.

The Chicago Cardinals got off to their best start ever, going 4–0, until the Redskins beat them 17–14 on October 28. At the midway point, they and the Giants had 5–1 records. In the Western Conference, the Detroit Lions roared to a 6–0 start. In Week Seven (November 11), the Giants pulled ahead with a 23–10 win over the Cards. In Washington, the Lions finally lost. Trapped on his own 1-yard line, Yale Lary took a safety in order to get a free kick. That, and Sam Baker's field goal, gave the Redskins an 18–10 lead to put the game out of reach, and the Lions lost 18–17. The Bears, who had dropped their opener at Baltimore, 28–21, beat Green Bay 38–14 for their sixth straight game, matching Detroit's 6–1 record.

In Week Nine, the Lions dropped their Thanksgiving Day game as Tobin Rote guided Green Bay to three last-quarter touchdowns in a 24–20 win. On Sunday, the Cards 38–27 win over Pittsburgh put them a half game out. The Bears cancelled a loss, while the Giants watched a win elude them, as Harlon Hill caught a last-ditch 56-yard touchdown pass from Ed Brown in tying the Giants, 17–17. Both the Bears and the Giants continued to lead their conferences, but only by half a game.[1]

The Cards lost the next two games and any chance at the Eastern title, which the Giants clinched, in part because of a 28–14 win over Washington on December 2. The Western race came down to the Bears and Lions. In Week Ten (December 2), the Lions hosted the Bears and won 42–10, to take the lead. When both teams won the following week, the trip to the championship came down to December 16, the last game of the season, which would have the 9–2 Detroit Lions visiting the 8–2–1 Chicago Bears, who hadn't forgotten the earlier drubbing. The game at Wrigley Field was marked by numerous fights, including a fourth quarter melee involving players, fans, and the police,[2] and a vicious hit well behind the play by the Bears' Ed Meadows that knocked Detroit quarterback Bobby Layne out of the game with a concussion. So, the Bears exacted their revenge with a 38–21 victory. After the game Lions' coach Buddy Parker appealed to the commissioner to punish what the Lions felt was the dirty play of George Halas's Bears, but no ruling was forthcoming.

Week Western Eastern
1 3 teams (Bal, Det, LA) 1–0–0 3 teams (Cards, NYG, Pit) 1–0–0
2 Detroit Lions 2–0–0 Chicago Cardinals 2–0–0
3 Detroit Lions 3–0–0 Chicago Cardinals 3–0–0
4 Detroit Lions 4–0–0 Chicago Cardinals 4–0–0
5 Detroit Lions 5–0–0 Tie (Cards, NYG) 4–1–0
6 Detroit Lions 6–0–0 Tie (Cards, NYG) 5–1–0
7 Tie (Bears, Lions) 6–1–0 New York Giants 6–1–0
8 Tie (Bears, Lions) 7–1–0 New York Giants 6–2–0
9 Chicago Bears 6–2–1 New York Giants 7–1–1
10 Detroit Lions 8–2–0 New York Giants 7–2–1
11 Detroit Lions 9–2–0 New York Giants 7–3–1
12 Chicago Bears 9–2–1 New York Giants 8–3–1

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
New York Giants 8 3 1 .727 264 197
Chicago Cardinals 7 5 0 .583 240 182
Washington Redskins 6 6 0 .500 183 225
Cleveland Browns 5 7 0 .417 167 177
Pittsburgh Steelers 5 7 0 .417 217 250
Philadelphia Eagles 3 8 1 .273 143 215
Western Conference
Chicago Bears 9 2 1 .818 363 246
Detroit Lions 9 3 0 .750 300 188
San Francisco 49ers 5 6 1 .455 233 284
Baltimore Colts 5 7 0 .417 270 322
Green Bay Packers 4 8 0 .333 264 342
Los Angeles Rams 4 8 0 .333 291 307

NFL championship game

NY Giants 47, Chi. Bears 7 at Yankee Stadium, New York City, December 30, 1956



The 1956 NFL Draft was held on November 28, 1955 and from January 17-18, 1956 at Philadelphia's Warwick Hotel, The Bellevue-Stratford Hotel and Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel. With the first pick, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected quarterback and safety Gary Glick from the Colorado State University.


Eastern Conference

Western Conference


  1. ^ "Bears Tie New York, 17–17", Albuquerque Journal, Nov 26, 1956, p12
  2. ^ "Casares Leads Bears Past Lions For Western Title, 38–21", Albuquerque Journal (December 17, 1956), p16
  • 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)
1956 All-Pro Team

The Associated Press (AP), Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), New York Daily News (NYDN), The Sporting News (SN), 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 1956 NFL season. The AP, NEA, NYDN, and UPI selected a first and second team.

Bill McColl

William Frazer "Bill" McColl, Jr. (born April 2, 1930) is an American athlete, surgeon, and politician. He is best remembered as a college football star before becoming a professional with the Chicago Bears of the National Football League, for whom he played from 1952 to 1959. He played college football at Stanford, where he was a two-time consensus All-American and third runner up in the 1951 Heisman Trophy voting. In 1951, he was the first person to receive the W.J. Voit Memorial Trophy as the outstanding football player on the Pacific Coast.

McColl was also a three-time candidate for United States Congress, running as a Republican in his native state of California.

McColl was inducted into the San Diego Hall of Champions Breitbard Hall of Fame in 1965. He was also inducted into the Stanford University Athletic Hall of Fame and into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1973.

Bill Roberts (American football)

William "Bill" Roberts (September 11, 1929 – August 15, 2007) was a halfback in the National Football League. He played with the Green Bay Packers during the 1956 NFL season.

Don King (defensive lineman)

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

Don Schaefer

Donald Thomas "Don" Schaefer (born February 13, 1934) was an American football player. He was a first-team All-American fullback at Notre Dame in 1955.

Schaefer was born in Pittsburgh. He attended Pittsburgh Central Catholic High School. He then enrolled at the University of Notre Dame where he played college football at the fullback position for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team from 1953 to 1955. He was selected by the American Football Coaches Association, the Football Writers Association of America, the International News Service and the Central Press Association as a first-team player on their respective 1955 College Football All-America Teams.Schaefer was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the third round (28th overall pick) of the 1956 NFL Draft and appeared in 12 games for the Eagles during the 1956 NFL season. He then served 30 months in the United States Air Force and played one season in the Canadian Football League for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. After retiring from football, he worked for Canteen Corporation in Chicago and Wyckoff, New Jersey.

Frank D'Agostino

Francis Joseph "Frank" D'Agostino (April 8, 1934 – September 28, 1997) was an American football player. D'Agostino attended Auburn University and played college football at the tackle position for the Auburn Tigers football team. He was selected by the Associated Press and the American Football Coaches Association as a first-team player on their respective 1955 College Football All-America Teams. He was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round (16th overall pick) of the 1956 NFL Draft. He appeared in 12 games for the Eagles during the 1956 NFL season. In 1960, D'Agostino played in the new American Football League, appearing in two games for the New York Titans (later renamed the New York Jets) during the 1960 AFL season.

Hugh Pitts

Hugh Lynn Pitts (April 8, 1934 – April 14, 2017) was an American football player. Pitts attended Texas Christian University and played college football at the center position for the TCU Horned Frogs football team. He was selected by the Central Press Association as a second-team player on its 1954 College Football All-America Team. He was selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the second round (23rd overall pick) of the 1956 NFL Draft. He appeared in nine games for the Rams during the 1956 NFL season and intercepted three passes. He did not see further regular season action for the Rams and was traded to the Dallas Cowboys in July 1960. Pitts instead jumped to the new American Football League and appeared in 12 games for the Houston Oilers during the 1960 AFL season. He died on April 14, 2017 at the age of 83.

Leo Rucka

Leopold Victor "Leo" Rucka (August 18, 1931 – January 4, 2016) was an American professional football player who played Linebacker/Center for the San Francisco 49ers during the 1956 NFL season. He was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1954 NFL Draft.

He was picked 23rd overall out of 360 draft picks in the 1954 draft. Leo was born in Wooster, an area of Baytown, TX, on August 18, 1931, and graduated from Crosby High School (Texas) in 1950, where he excelled in football, basketball, and all other major sports. He was a resident of Crosby, TX. He was Married to his wife of over 60 years, Lillian Rucka. They had 5 children, 11 grandchildren, and several great grandchildren. He attended College at Rice University and was inducted into the Rice Football Hall of Fame in 1996.During his senior year at Rice, Leo helped the Rice Owls defeat the University of Texas in the final seconds for the Southwest Conference title. He described it as his "biggest college thrill". He also co-captained the team the season they won the Cotton Bowl Championship in 1954 against Alabama. He played in 5 NFL games, He had 1 documented fumble recovery, tackle data is not available from that year. Leo left the NFL to fulfill Army obligations as an aviation engineer. He served in Far East during the Korean War for 20 months. He was named to the All-Service Team. During his time in the NFL he was 6'3", 212 lbs. His teammates nicknamed him "The Quiet Man". Rucka died on January 4, 2016.

Lou Baldacci

Louis Granville Baldacci (born December 17, 1934) is a former American football player. He played college football for the University of Michigan from 1953 to 1955 and was the starting quarterback for the 1953 and 1954 Michigan Wolverines football teams. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1956 NFL Draft and played ten games as a halfback in the 1956 NFL season.

NFL on DuMont

The NFL on DuMont was an American television program that broadcast National Football League games on the now defunct DuMont Television Network. The program ran from 1951 to 1955.

1956 NFL season
Early era
Modern era

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