1959 NFL season

The 1959 NFL season was the 40th regular season of the National Football League. Tragedy struck as NFL Commissioner Bert Bell died of a heart attack on October 11 at Philadelphia's Franklin Field while watching the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers play. League Treasurer Austin Gunsel was named interim commissioner for the rest of the season.

The Chicago Cardinals played their final season in the Windy City before relocating to St. Louis for the following season.

The season ended when the Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants in the NFL Championship Game for the second year in a row.

1959 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 26 –
December 13, 1959
East ChampionsNew York Giants
West ChampionsBaltimore Colts
Championship Game
ChampionsBaltimore Colts

Conference races

The NFL had six teams in each conference. Each team would play a home-and-away game against the other 5 teams in its conference, and two games outside the conference. The Bears and Cardinals, and the Redskins and Colts, faced each other in an interconference game each year.

After the second week, when the 1–1–0 Giants had to share the Eastern Conference lead with all five of the other clubs, the Giants won seven of the next eight games to clinch the title in Week Ten. In the Western Conference, the San Francisco 49ers, who had come close (1952, 1953, 1954, and 1957) several times since joining the NFL, were 6–1 and had a two-game lead over their closest rival, the 4–3 Colts. In Week Nine, though, the 49ers lost in Baltimore, 45–14 (November 22) and they shared the lead at 6–3–0. Two weeks later, San Francisco had the home field advantage when they faced the Colts for a rematch. Baltimore won again, 34–14, and clinched the title the following week.

Week Western Eastern
1 3 teams (Bal, GB, SF) 1–0–0 3 teams (Cards, NYG, Pit) 1–0–0
2 Tie (GB and SF) 2–0–0 6 teams (Cards, Cle, NYG, Phi, Pit, Was) 1–1–0
3 Green Bay Packers 3–0–0 3 teams (NYG, Phi, Was) 2–1–0
4 3 teams (Bal, GB, SF) 3–1–0 New York Giants 3–1–0
5 Tie (Bal, SF) 4–1–0 New York Giants 4–1–0
6 San Francisco 49ers 5–1–0 New York Giants 5–1–0
7 San Francisco 49ers 6–1–0 New York Giants 6–1–0
8 San Francisco 49ers 6–2–0 Tie (Cle, NYG) 6–2–0
9 Tie (Bal, SF) 6–3–0 New York Giants 7–2–0
10 Tie (Bal, SF) 7–3–0 New York Giants 8–2–0
11 Baltimore Colts 8–3–0 New York Giants 9–2–0
12 Baltimore Colts 9–3–0 New York Giants 10–2–0

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
New York Giants 10 2 0 .833 284 170
Cleveland Browns 7 5 0 .583 270 214
Philadelphia Eagles 7 5 0 .583 268 278
Pittsburgh Steelers 6 5 1 .545 257 216
Washington Redskins 3 9 0 .250 185 350
Chicago Cardinals 2 10 0 .167 234 324
Western Conference
Baltimore Colts 9 3 0 .750 374 251
Chicago Bears 8 4 0 .667 252 196
Green Bay Packers 7 5 0 .583 248 246
San Francisco 49ers 7 5 0 .583 255 237
Detroit Lions 3 8 1 .273 203 275
Los Angeles Rams 2 10 0 .167 242 315

NFL Championship Game

Baltimore 31, NY Giants 16 at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland, December 27, 1959.


Most Valuable Player Johnny Unitas, Quarterback, Baltimore Colts
Coach of the Year Vince Lombardi, Green Bay


The 1959 NFL Draft was held on December 1, 1958 and January 21, 1959 at Philadelphia's Warwick Hotel. With the first pick, the Green Bay Packers selected quarterback Randy Duncan from the University of Iowa.


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)
Don Fleming (American football)

Donald Denver Fleming (June 11, 1937 – June 4, 1963) was an American college and professional football player who was a defensive back in the National Football League (NFL) for three seasons during the early 1960s. Fleming played college football for the University of Florida, and thereafter, he played professionally for the Cleveland Browns of the NFL. His professional football career was cut short by his accidental death in 1963.

Gene Cook (American football)

Gene Cook (January 11, 1932 – February 14, 2002) was a player in the National Football League, an honored executive in minor league baseball, and a long-time elected official in Toledo, Ohio.

Cook is a member of the International League Hall of Fame.

Gene Selawski

Eugene Frank "Gene" Selawski (November 28, 1935 – May 11, 1993) was an American football player. He was a first-team All-American tackle at Purdue University in 1958 and played three years of professional football for the Los Angeles Rams (1959), Cleveland Browns (1960) and San Diego Chargers (1961).

Selawski was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated from John Adam High School. He then attended Purdue University where he played college football at the tackle position for the Purdue Boilermakers football team from 1956 to 1958. He was selected by the Football Writers Association of America as a first-team tackle on its 1958 College Football All-America Team.Selawski was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the ninth round of the 1958 NFL Draft and played for the Rams in 12 games during the 1959 NFL season. In 1960, he returned to Ohio to play in 12 games for his hometown Cleveland Browns. In 1961, he jumped to the American Football League, appearing in eight games for the San Diego Chargers. He died in 1993 at age 57 in Duluth, Georgia.

Metropolitan Stadium

Metropolitan Stadium (often referred to as "the Met", "Met Stadium", or now "the Old Met" to distinguish from the Metrodome) was a sports stadium that once stood in Bloomington, Minnesota, just outside Minneapolis. The Minneapolis Millers minor league baseball team played at Met Stadium from 1956 to 1960. The Minnesota Twins and the Minnesota Vikings then played at the "Met" from 1961 to 1981. The North American Soccer League soccer team Minnesota Kicks also played there from 1976 to 1981.

The area where the stadium once stood is now the site of the Mall of America.

Pop Ivy

Lee Frank "Pop" Ivy (January 25, 1916 – May 17, 2003) was a football player and coach who was the only person to serve as a head coach in the National Football League, the American Football League and the Western Interprovincial Football Union.

1959 NFL season
Early era
Modern era

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