1961 NFL season

The 1961 NFL season was the 42nd regular season of the National Football League (NFL). The league expanded to 14 teams with the addition of the Minnesota Vikings, after the team's owners declined to be charter members of the new American Football League. The schedule was also expanded from 12 games per team to 14 games per team. The Vikings were placed in the Western Conference, and the Dallas Cowboys were switched from the Western Conference to the Eastern. The addition of the Vikings returned the NFL to an even number of teams (and eliminated the bye week of 1960).

The season ended when the Green Bay Packers shut out the New York Giants 37–0 in the 1961 NFL Championship Game.

1961 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 17 –
December 31, 1961
East ChampionsNew York Giants
West ChampionsGreen Bay Packers
Championship Game
ChampionsGreen Bay Packers

Conference races

The new Minnesota Vikings won their first game when they upset the Chicago Bears team, 37–13, on September 17, 1961. Mike Mercer made the Vikings' first points on a 12-yard field goal, and Fran Tarkenton guided the team to five touchdowns. The Vikings finished at 3–11 after that good start. With 14 teams in two conferences, each NFL team now played a 14-game schedule: a home-and-away series with the other six teams in their division, and two interconference games.

In Week Five, the Giants and Eagles led the Eastern Conference, and the Packers and 49ers led the Western, all with records of 4–1. The following week, the 49ers lost to the Bears, 31–0, while Green Bay beat Minnesota 33–7. The Giants and Eagles, both winners, remained tied in the Eastern standings at 5–1. In Week Seven, Dallas edged the Giants 17–16, while the Eagles beat the Redskins 27–24 on Sonny Jurgensen's last-quarter touchdown pass to Tommy McDonald. In Week Nine (November 12), the Giants beat the Eagles, 38–21, to give both teams 7–2 records, while Green Bay survived a game at Chicago, 31–28, that would otherwise have tied both teams at 6–3; Green Bay led the Western race the rest of the way. In Week Ten, New York's 42–21 win over Pittsburgh put it at 8–2, while Cleveland's 45–24 win over Philadelphia put both those teams at 7–3. In Week 11 (December 3), New York lost 20–17 to Green Bay, while the Eagles won 35–24 at Pittsburgh, tying the race again.

The Giants and Eagles, both at 9–3, met the following week in Philadelphia (December 10). After New York trailed 10–7, Coach Allie Sherman replaced Y. A. Tittle with Charlie Conerly, who at 40 was the NFL's oldest player. Conerly threw for three touchdowns for the 28–24 win. The winning score came after the Eagles were penalized for roughing the kicker on the Giants' fourth down, giving the Giants first down on the 24.[1] At season's end (December 17), the Eagles rallied to beat Detroit 27–24, and hoped for a Giants' loss to force a playoff. At that moment, New York and Cleveland were tied 7–7 with two minutes left. A long punt by the Giants' Don Chandler pinned the Browns on their own 7-yard line, and ended any threat of a loss.[2]

Week Western Eastern
1 4 teams (Bal, Det, Min, SF) 1–0–0 3 teams (Dal, Phi, St.L) 1–0–0
2 Detroit Lions 2–0–0 Tie (Dal, Phi) 2–0–0
3 4 teams (Bal, Det, GB, SF) 2–1–0 5 teams (Cle, Dal, NYG, Phi, StL) 2–1–0
4 Tie (GB, SF) 3–1–0 4 teams (Cle, Dal, NYG, Phi) 3–1–0
5 Tie (GB, SF) 4–1–0 Tie (NYG, Phi) 4–1–0
6 Green Bay Packers 5–1–0 Tie (NYG, Phi) 5–1–0
7 Green Bay Packers 6–1–0 Philadelphia Eagles 6–1–0
8 Green Bay Packers 6–2–0 Philadelphia Eagles 7–1–0
9 Green Bay Packers 7–2–0 Tie (NYG, Phi) 7–2–0
10 Green Bay Packers 8–2–0 New York Giants 8–2–0
11 Green Bay Packers 9–2–0 New York Giants 9–2–0
12 Green Bay Packers 10–2–0 Tie (NYG, Phi) 9–3–0
13 Green Bay Packers 10–3–0 New York Giants 10–3–0
14 Green Bay Packers 11–3–0 New York Giants 10–3–1

Final standings

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT= Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

Note: Prior to 1972, the NFL did not include tie games when calculating a team's winning percentage in the official standings

Eastern Conference
New York Giants 10 3 1 .769 368 220
Philadelphia Eagles 10 4 0 .714 361 297
Cleveland Browns 8 5 1 .615 319 270
St. Louis Cardinals 7 7 0 .500 279 267
Pittsburgh Steelers 6 8 0 .429 295 287
Dallas Cowboys 4 9 1 .308 236 380
Washington Redskins 1 12 1 .077 174 392
Western Conference
Green Bay Packers 11 3 0 .786 391 223
Detroit Lions 8 5 1 .615 270 258
Baltimore Colts 8 6 0 .571 302 307
Chicago Bears 8 6 0 .571 326 302
San Francisco 49ers 7 6 1 .538 346 272
Los Angeles Rams 4 10 0 .286 263 333
Minnesota Vikings 3 11 0 .214 285 407

NFL Championship Game

Green Bay 37, New York 0 at City Stadium, Green Bay, Wisconsin, December 31, 1961

Playoff Bowl

The Playoff Bowl was between the conference runners-up, for third place in the league. This was its second year and it was played a week after the title game.


Most valuable player

Rookie of the year

Coach of the year



The 1961 NFL Draft was held from December 27-28, 1960 at Philadelphia's Warwick Hotel. With the first pick, the Minnesota Vikings selected halfback Tommy Mason from Tulane University.


Eastern Conference

Western Conference

See also


  1. ^ "'Penalties Killed Us' Moans Eagles' Coach," Delaware County Times, Dec 11, 1961, p20
  2. ^ "Giants Settle for Tie, Earn Division Title,", The Independent (Long Beach), Dec 18, 1961, pD-1
  3. ^ "Hornung Is 'Most Valuable'". Star Tribune. Associated Press. December 21, 1961. p. 21. Retrieved February 2, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ Olderman, Murray (December 27, 1961). "Players Name Tittle Thorpe Trophy Winner". The Telegraph. Newspaper Enterprise Association. p. 12. Retrieved June 27, 2016.
  5. ^ "Paul Hornung Voted NFL Player Of Year". Pampa Daily News. United Press International. December 29, 1961. p. 8. Retrieved May 3, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "Bears' Mike Ditka Rookie Of Year". Daily Independent Journal. Associated Press. December 21, 1961. p. 14. Retrieved March 23, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "Bears' Mike Ditka Named NFL's Rookie Of The Year". The Times Recorder. United Press International. December 31, 1961. p. 18. Retrieved May 3, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Allie Sherman Coach of Year". The Portsmouth Herald. Associated Press. December 19, 1961. p. 10. Retrieved March 21, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "New York's Allie Sherman Named NFL Coach Of Year". The Times Recorder. United Press International. December 28, 1961. p. 13. Retrieved May 3, 2017 – via Newspapers.com.
  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 1961–1970 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
1957 Pittsburgh Steelers season

The 1957 Pittsburgh Steelers season was the team's 25th season in the National Football League. For the first time, the Steelers' yellow helmets sported uniform numbers. Pittsburgh would use these uniforms through the 1961 season.


1960 (MCMLX)

was a leap year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1960th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 960th year of the 2nd millennium, the 60th year of the 20th century, and the 1st year of the 1960s decade. It is also known as the "Year of Africa" because of major events—particularly the independence of seventeen African nations—that focused global attention on the continent and intensified feelings of Pan-Africanism.

1961 American Football League season

The 1961 American Football League season was the second regular season of the American Football League (AFL). It consisted of 8 franchises split into two divisions: the East Division (Buffalo Bills, Houston Oilers, Titans of New York, Boston Patriots) and the West Division (San Diego Chargers, Denver Broncos, Dallas Texans, Oakland Raiders).

After having spent its inaugural season in Los Angeles, the Chargers moved to San Diego, California for this AFL season; 56 years later, the franchise returned to their original home.

The season ended when the Houston Oilers defeated the San Diego Chargers in the AFL Championship game.

1961 Dallas Cowboys season

The 1961 Dallas Cowboys season was their second in the National Football League. The team finished with 4 wins, 9 losses, and 1 tie, placing them 6th in the Eastern Conference.

1961 NFL Championship Game

The 1961 National Football League Championship Game was the 29th title game. It was played at "New" City Stadium, later known as Lambeau Field, in Green Bay, Wisconsin on December 31, with an attendance of 39,029.The game was a match-up of the Eastern Conference champion New York Giants (10–3–1) and the Western Conference champion Green Bay Packers (11–3). The home team Packers were a 3⅓-point favorite.Packers Ray Nitschke, Boyd Dowler, and Paul Hornung, were on leave from the U.S. Army. Hornung scored 19 points (a touchdown, three field goals, and four extra points) for the Packers and was named the MVP of the game, and awarded a 1962 Chevrolet Corvette from Sport magazine.The victory was the first of five NFL titles won in a seven-season span by the Packers and their head coach, Vince Lombardi. It was the Packers' seventh league title and their first in 17 years.

Ed Culpepper

Ed Culpepper (born Robert Edward Culpepper) is a former defensive tackle in the National Football League. He played two seasons with the Chicago Cardinals before moving with the team to St. Louis, Missouri before the 1960 NFL season. Culpepper was later selected in the 1961 NFL Expansion Draft by the Minnesota Vikings and would play with the team during the 1961 NFL season. He would play his final two professional seasons with the Houston Oilers of the American Football League.

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.

Hamp Pool

Hampton John "Hamp" Pool (March 11, 1915 – May 26, 2000) was an American football player, coach and scout who was part of two National Football League (NFL) championship teams during his playing career and served as head coach for three professional teams.

January 28

January 28 is the 28th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 337 days remaining until the end of the year (338 in leap years).

Joel Wells

Joel Whitlock Wells (born November 26, 1935) is a former gridiron football player. He played as a halfback in the National Football League (NFL) for the New York Giants during the 1961 NFL season. Wells began his career in the Canadian Football League (CFL) in 1957 with the Montreal Alouettes, where he was an All-Star in 1958.

List of events at Yankee Stadium (1923)

Yankee Stadium was a stadium that opened in 1923 and closed in 2008. It was primarily the home field of the New York Yankees professional baseball club for over eight decades, but it also hosted football games, boxing matches, live concerts, and Papal visits in its 85 years of existence.

Pete Hall

Pete Hall is a former player in the National Football League. He was drafted in the twelfth round of the 1960 NFL Draft by the New York Giants and later played with the team during the 1961 NFL season.

Red Hickey

Howard Wayne "Red" Hickey (February 14, 1917 – March 30, 2006) was an American football player and coach. He played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1941 and the Cleveland / Los Angeles Rams from 1945 to 1948. Hickey served as head coach for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers from 1959 to 1963. He devised the shotgun formation in 1960.

Spread offense

"Spread offense" may also refer to the four corners offense in basketball.

The spread offense is an offensive scheme in American and Canadian football that is used at every level of the game including professional (NFL, CFL), college (NCAA, NAIA, CIS), and high school programs across the US and Canada. Spread offenses typically place the quarterback in the shotgun formation, and "spread" the defense horizontally using three-, four-, and even five-receiver sets. Many spread offenses also employ a no-huddle approach. Some implementations of the spread also feature wide splits between the offensive linemen.

Spread offenses can emphasize the pass or the run, with the common attribute that they force the defense to cover the entire field from sideline to sideline. Many spread teams use the read option running play to put pressure on both sides of the defense. Similar to the run and shoot offense, passing-oriented spread offenses often leverage vertical (down field) passing routes to spread the defense vertically, which opens up multiple vertical seams for both the running and passing game.

1961 NFL season
Early era
Modern era

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