The Playoff Bowl (officially known as the Bert Bell Benefit Bowl) was a post-season game for third place in the National Football League (NFL), played ten times following the 1960 through 1969 seasons, all at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida.
Bert Bell was the commissioner of the NFL from 1946 until his death in October 1959. He was a co-founder of the Philadelphia Eagles as well as a co-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers during much of the 1940s. His death occurred while attending an Eagles-Steelers game in Philadelphia. Over the decade of the 1960s, the game contributed more than a million dollars to the Bert Bell players' pension fund.
|Playoff Bowl (defunct)|
|Bert Bell Benefit Bowl|
NFL game for third place
All ten games in the Playoff Bowl series were contested at the Orange Bowl in Miami. The games were played in January, the week following the NFL championship game (and the collegiate Orange Bowl game on New Year's Day), except for the final year, when it was played the day before the NFL title game. The NFL's Pro Bowl (all-star game) was played the week after the Playoff Bowl.
After the 1959 season, NFL owners faced competition from the newly formed American Football League and wanted a vehicle through which to showcase more of its supposedly superior NFL professional football product on television. At the time, unlike the AFL, which had a contract with ABC-TV for nationally televised games, often double-headers, few NFL games were televised nationally during the season and there was only one scheduled post-season game, the NFL Championship Game. The Playoff Bowl was devised to match the second-place teams from the NFL's two conferences (Eastern and Western). This doubled from two to four the number of top NFL teams appearing in post-season play on national television.
The 1966 season required another game following the American Football League Championship Game and the NFL Championship Game, the first of four AFL–NFL World Championship Games between the champions of the two major Professional Football leagues for the undisputed championship. The establishment of the AFL–NFL World Championship Game (Super Bowl was not its official name until Super Bowl III) was the first phase of the AFL–NFL merger of June 1966. This new mega-game between the rival leagues was played in mid-January at a warm weather location, two weeks after the championship games for each league. The NFL's Playoff Bowl was played during the idle week, and because of AFL's equally major league status, interest in the game was waning. In addition, the arrival of the Miami Dolphins in 1966 as an expansion franchise in the AFL reduced local interest in the game.
In the 1967 season, the NFL expanded to 16 teams and four scheduled post-season contests. The NFL sub-divided its two conferences (now eight teams each) into two divisions of four teams each: The Capitol and Century divisions in the Eastern conference, and the Central and Coastal divisions in the Western conference. The four division winners advanced to the post-season, competing for their conference titles in the first round of the NFL playoffs. The winners (conference champions) advanced to the NFL championship game, the losers (conference runners-up) appeared in the Playoff Bowl to vie for third place. For the three seasons (1967–69) preceding the 1970 merger with the AFL, the loser of the NFL's third place game ended up with a peculiar record of 0-2 for that post-season. In its final season in 1969, the AFL also expanded to a four-team post-season, adding two more playoff games.
The highest attendance was over 65,500 in January 1966 for the Baltimore Colts' rout of the Dallas Cowboys; the 1965 season was the last one prior to the Dolphins starting play, the AFL–NFL merger agreement, and the creation of the Super Bowl. In January 1968 and 1969, the Super Bowl was played in the Orange Bowl the following week, which further contributed to the declining attendance for the NFL's consolation game.
When the merger was completed for the 1970 season, there was discussion about continuing the Playoff Bowl, with the losers of the AFC and NFC Championship Games playing each other during the idle week before the Super Bowl. There were now seven post-season games in the NFL (three for each conference, plus the Super Bowl), and the Pro Bowl all-star game. A "losers' game" was not necessarily attractive for the league, and the Playoff Bowl came to an end.
Although the ten Playoff Bowls were official third place playoff games at the time they were played, the NFL currently classifies them as exhibition games, and does not include them in the official results (or statistics) for the post-season.
Vince Lombardi detested the Playoff Bowl, coaching in the games following the 1963 and 1964 seasons, after winning NFL titles in 1961 and 1962. To his players, he called it "the 'Shit Bowl', ...a losers' bowl for losers." This lack of motivation may explain his Packers' rare postseason defeat in the 1964 game (January 1965) to the St. Louis Cardinals. After that loss, he fumed about "a hinky-dink football game, held in a hinky-dink town, played by hinky-dink players. That's all second place is – hinky dink."
Using the Playoff Bowl (and loss) as motivation in 1965, the Packers won the first of three consecutive NFL championships from 1965–67. As of 2016, the Packers are the only NFL team ever to win three consecutive titles in the post-season era (which began in 1933). During this successful run, the Packers also won the first two Super Bowls in convincing fashion. In an ironic twist, Lombardi's final game (and victory) as head coach of the Packers was Super Bowl II, played in "hinky-dink" Miami's Orange Bowl in January 1968.
All-Pro defensive tackle Roger Brown appeared in five Playoff Bowls, the most by any player, and was on the winning side each time (Detroit Lions, 1960–61–62; Los Angeles Rams, 1967, 1969). He said playing in those seemingly meaningless contests was like having "the worst inferiority complex." He added, "I was in five of them, and to have played in it five in the ten years it was in existence is pitiful."
In its second year, the players on the winning team received $600 each, the losers $400; and the fifth year game paid $800 and $600. In its final years, the winners received $1,200 each, the losers $500.
One vestige of the Playoff Bowl remained through the 2008 season in that the head coaches of the losing teams from the conference championship games were the head coaches of their conferences' Pro Bowl teams. From 1980 to 2009, this all-star game was played at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu the Sunday following the Super Bowl. However, in 2010, the Pro Bowl moved to Miami Gardens, Florida, and was played the week before Super Bowl XLIV (as the Playoff Bowl was in the Super Bowl era).
For the 2009 season, a new rule for determining the Pro Bowl coaches resulted in the disappearance of one Playoff Bowl legacy. The coaching staffs for the 2010 Pro Bowl did not come from the losers of the conference championship games, but instead from the teams with the best regular-season records among those that lost in the divisional round of the playoffs in each conference.
All ten games were played at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. Most were played the week following the NFL Championship game, with two exceptions: the first was played two weeks after and the last the day before. The first two games and the last one were played on Saturday, with the rest being played on Sunday. The Western Conference team won eight of the ten games.
|1960||January 7, 1961||Detroit Lions||17–16||Cleveland Browns||34,981|
|1961||January 6, 1962||Detroit Lions (2)||38–10||Philadelphia Eagles||25,612|
|1962||January 6, 1963||Detroit Lions (3)||17–10||Pittsburgh Steelers||36,284|
|1963||January 5, 1964||Green Bay Packers||40–23||Cleveland Browns||54,921|
|1964||January 3, 1965||St. Louis Cardinals||24–17||Green Bay Packers||56,218|
|1965||January 9, 1966||Baltimore Colts||35–3||Dallas Cowboys||65,569|
|1966||January 8, 1967||Baltimore Colts (2)||20–14||Philadelphia Eagles||58,088|
|1967||January 7, 1968||Los Angeles Rams||30–6||Cleveland Browns||37,102|
|1968||January 5, 1969||Dallas Cowboys||17–13||Minnesota Vikings||22,961|
|1969||January 3, 1970||Los Angeles Rams (2)||31–0||Dallas Cowboys||31,151|
|Games||Team||W||L||PCT||Won (3rd)||Lost (4th)|
|3||Detroit Lions||3||0||1.000||1960, 1961, 1962|
|3||Dallas Cowboys||1||2||.333||1968||1965, 1969|
|3||Cleveland Browns||0||3||.000||1960, 1963, 1967|
|2||Baltimore Colts||2||0||1.000||1965, 1966|
|2||Los Angeles Rams||2||0||1.000||1967, 1969|
|2||Green Bay Packers||1||1||.500||1963||1964|
|2||Philadelphia Eagles||0||2||.000||1961, 1966|
|1||St. Louis Cardinals||1||0||1.000||1964|
|Season||Network||Play-by-play||Color commentator(s)||Sideline reporter(s)|
|1969||CBS||Jack Whitaker||Frank Gifford and Don Perkins|
|1968||CBS||Ray Scott||Paul Christman||Frank Glieber|
|1967||CBS||Frank Glieber||Frank Gifford|
|1966||CBS||Chuck Thompson||Tom Brookshier|
|1965||CBS||Frank Glieber (first half) and Chuck Thompson (second half)||Pat Summerall|
|1964||CBS||Jack Drees (first half) and Earl Gillespie (second half)||Frank Gifford|
|1963||CBS||Ray Scott (first half) and Ken Coleman (second half)||Frank Gifford|
|1962||CBS||Chris Schenkel (first half) and Ray Scott (second half)||Warren Lahr|
|1961||CBS||Chris Schenkel (first half) and Van Patrick (second half)||Johnny Lujack|
|1960||CBS||Ken Coleman (first half) and Van Patrick (second half)||Johnny Lujack|
The 1960 Cleveland Browns season was the team's 11th season with the National Football League. The 1960 Browns compiled an 8–3–1 record, and finished second in the NFL's Eastern Conference, behind the NFL champion Philadelphia Eagles. As runner-up, the Browns qualified for the inaugural third place Playoff Bowl in Miami, but lost 17–16 to the Detroit Lions on January 7.1960 Detroit Lions season
The 1960 Detroit Lions season was the 27th in the Motor City, and 31st season overall in franchise history. The Lions had only one win entering November, but had only one loss in their final seven games and finished at 7–5, one game short of the Western Conference championship (won by Green Bay). However, the Lions won the inaugural third place Playoff Bowl over the Cleveland Browns at the Orange Bowl in Miami.1960 NFL season
The 1960 NFL season was the 41st regular season of the National Football League.
Before the league, 33-year-old Pete Rozelle, the general manager of the Los Angeles Rams, was elected NFL commissioner as a compromise choice on the twenty-third ballot. Meanwhile, the league expanded to 13 teams in late January with the addition of the Dallas Cowboys, with a fourteenth team, the Minnesota Vikings, to start in 1961. Also, the Cardinals relocated from Chicago to St. Louis and became the St. Louis Cardinals, the same moniker as the major league baseball team.
In the championship game, the host Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Green Bay Packers by four points at Franklin Field. Two years earlier in 1958, both teams had finished in last place in their respective conferences, combining for only three wins. This loss was Vince Lombardi's only post-season defeat as an NFL head coach. Following this loss in 1960, Lombardi's Packers won five NFL championship games in seven years, and easily won the first two Super Bowls.
The NFL introduced the Playoff Bowl, a game for third place between the runners-up from each conference.
Played at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, after the NFL Championship game, it benefitted the players' pension fund. The Detroit Lions played the Cleveland Browns in the inaugural game and the Lions won by a point, the first of three straight wins by Detroit in the series.
The two-time defending league champion Baltimore Colts led the Western Conference after their bye in Week 9, but lost the last four games to finish at .500 and fourth in the West. The New York Giants, winners of the Eastern Conference the previous two seasons, won only one of their final five games and finished third in the East.
During this season, the American Football League (AFL) was launched as a competitor to the NFL. The two leagues co-existed for the entire 1960s, agreed to a merger in 1966, and became one combined league in 1970.1961 Detroit Lions season
The 1961 Detroit Lions season was the 32nd season in franchise history. Detroit won a second Playoff Bowl game against the Philadelphia Eagles that was played in the Orange Bowl, 38–10.1961 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.1962 Detroit Lions season
The 1962 Detroit Lions season was the 33rd season in franchise history. In one of the best regular seasons in their history, the Lions posted an 11–3 record (.786), but finished two games behind the eventual NFL champion Packers in the NFL Western Conference. It was third straight season the Lions finished as runner-up to the Packers in the West.
As conference runner-up, Detroit won their third consecutive Playoff Bowl game over the Pittsburgh Steelers, 17–10. The third place game was played at the Orange Bowl in Miami on January 6, three weeks after the end of the regular season.The Lions never trailed by more than seven points at any point in any game during the season, a feat that was not repeated for 48 years. Their 26–14 win over the Packers
on Thanksgiving Day in Week 11 denied defending champion Green Bay the NFL's first true perfect season. The Lions were up 26–0 in the fourth quarter before Green Bay scored two touchdowns; the Packers had won the first meeting 9–7 in the mud in Green Bay with a late field goal on October 7.1962 NFL season
The 1962 NFL season was the 43rd regular season of the National Football League (NFL). Before the season, CBS signed a contract with the league to televise all regular-season games for a $4.65 million annual fee.
The season ended on December 30, when the Green Bay Packers defeated the New York Giants 16–7 in the NFL championship game at Yankee Stadium. The Packers successfully defended their 1961 NFL title, finishing the 1962 season at 14–1; their only loss was to the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day at Tiger Stadium.1963 Green Bay Packers season
The 1963 Green Bay Packers season was their 45th season overall and their 43rd season in the National Football League. The two-time defending NFL champions posted an 11–2–1 record under fifth-year head coach Vince Lombardi for a second-place finish in the Western Conference, a half game back.
Both losses were inflicted by the Chicago Bears (11–1–2), the NFL champions in 1963, as the indefinite suspension of halfback Paul Hornung was too much for Green Bay to overcome. The Packers had won the previous five regular season games with rival Chicago, but scored just ten points total in the two games in 1963, and needed only a tie in one of them to advance to the championship game. (The tie at Detroit on Thanksgiving did not impact the Packers' title chances; ties were omitted from the winning percentage calculation until 1972.) Chicago's only loss was at last place San Francisco in October and they tied Pittsburgh and Minnesota in consecutive weeks after their second defeat of the Packers.
Quarterback Bart Starr suffered a hairline fracture in his passing hand at St. Louis on October 20. Up 23–0 in the third quarter, Starr couldn't find an open receiver on third down and took off on a run that gained 15 yards, tackled with a late hit out of bounds by Cardinal cornerback Jimmy "Iron Claw" Hill, who was ejected. Second-string quarterback John Roach filled in for the rest of the game, a 30–7 win in 85 °F (30 °C) heat, and the next four starts. Zeke Bratkowski was acquired in late October, waived by the Rams, and saw some action, too. Starr returned a month later, in week eleven on November 24 against San Francisco in Milwaukee, a week after the second loss to Chicago.Following their regular season finale, a 21–17 win at San Francisco on Saturday, Green Bay needed Detroit to defeat the Bears at Wrigley Field on Sunday. The game's progress was updated to the Packers during their flight home; Chicago's 24–14 win ended Green Bay's bid for an unprecedented third consecutive championship game win, which came four years later in 1967.
In the third place Playoff Bowl in Miami three weeks later on January 5, the Packers overwhelmed the Cleveland Browns, 40–23. Green Bay led 28–10 at halftime and extended it to 38–10 in the fourth quarter.This was the eleventh and final season for hall of fame center Jim Ringo as a Packer. In May 1964, he and reserve fullback Earl Gros were traded to the Philadelphia Eagles for linebacker Lee Roy Caffey and a first round draft choice. Ringo played four years with the Eagles and then went into coaching; the draft pick was used to select halfback Donny Anderson as a "future" pick in the 1965 NFL Draft.
Hall of fame halfback Hornung did not play this season, suspended in April by commissioner Pete Rozelle for betting on NFL games and associating with undesirable persons.1963 NFL season
The 1963 NFL season was the 44th regular season of the National Football League. On April 17, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle indefinitely suspended Green Bay Packers running back Paul Hornung and Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras for gambling on their own teams, as well as other NFL games; Hornung and Karras would miss the entire season. In addition, five other Detroit players were fined $2,000 each for placing bets on one game in which they did not participate.
The season ended with the Chicago Bears defeating the New York Giants at Wrigley Field in the NFL Championship Game.1964 Green Bay Packers season
The 1964 Green Bay Packers season was their 46th season overall and their 44th season in the National Football League. The club was led by sixth-year head coach Vince Lombardi, and tied for second place in the Western Conference at 8–5–1.
The Packers opened the season in Green Bay with a promising win over the rival Chicago Bears, the defending NFL champions. They then lost four of six, including three home games, and were 3–4 midway through the season, falling twice to the Baltimore Colts. The first three losses were by a total of five points, but the fourth on October 25, to the Los Angeles Rams in Milwaukee, was by ten and came after building a 17–0 lead.In the season's latter half, Green Bay won five of six and tied the Rams in the finale to end 3½ games behind the Colts (12–2) in the West, tied for second with Minnesota. Baltimore clinched the Western title on November 22, with three games remaining. Based on point differential in the season split with the Vikings, the Packers were awarded the runner-up slot in the Playoff Bowl, the consolation third place game in Miami played three weeks after the regular season, on January 3.
Green Bay had played in the previous season's Playoff Bowl and won decisively, which followed consecutive league titles in 1961 and 1962, and three straight appearances in the championship game. In the 1964 season's third-place game, the St. Louis Cardinals prevailed over the unmotivated Packers, 24–17.The 1964 season was arguably the most disappointing for Lombardi as a head coach. Consecutive appearances in the consolation Playoff Bowl, and the loss, keyed Lombardi and the Packers to win three consecutive NFL titles; the latter two followed by victories in the first two Super Bowls. Since the playoff era began 86 years ago in 1933, no other team was won three straight NFL titles.
Hall of Fame right guard Jerry Kramer missed most of the season due to an intestinal condition. After multiple surgeries, it was rectified in May 1965 after sizable wood fragments from a teenage accident a dozen years earlier were removed.
The NFL classifies the ten editions of the Playoff Bowl as exhibition games, not postseason contests.1964 NFL season
The 1964 NFL season was the 45th regular season of the National Football League. Before the season started, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle reinstated Green Bay Packers running back Paul Hornung and Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras, who had been suspended for the 1963 season due to gambling.
Beginning this season, the home team in each game was allowed the option of wearing their white jerseys. Since 1957, league rules had mandated that the visiting team wear white and the home team wear colored jerseys. The NFL also increased the regular season roster limit from 37 to 40 active players, which would remain unchanged for a decade.
The season ended when the Cleveland Browns shut out the Baltimore Colts 27–0 in the NFL Championship Game.1964 St. Louis Cardinals (NFL) season
The 1964 St. Louis Cardinals season was the team's 45th year with the National Football League (NFL) and the fifth season in St. Louis.
The Cardinals (9–3–2) were the runner-up in the Eastern Conference, finishing a half game behind the Cleveland Browns (10–3–1), who won the NFL championship game on December 27. The Cardinals tied the Browns in Cleveland in September and defeated them in St. Louis in December.
As the conference runner-up, the Cardinals played the Green Bay Packers of the Western Conference in the third place Playoff Bowl in Miami, Florida. Held on January 3 at the Orange Bowl, St. Louis won in an upset, 24–17. It was the Cardinals' only appearance after the regular season between 1948 and 1974.1965 Dallas Cowboys season
The 1965 Dallas Cowboys season was their sixth in the National Football League and their best record to date, at 7–7. After five consecutive losses, Dallas was 2–5 halfway through the season. They won five of the final seven games and finished in a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference, with the New York Giants, four games behind the defending NFL champion Cleveland Browns (11–3).
The Cowboys defeated the Giants twice and earned the berth in the third place Playoff Bowl in Miami, held three weeks after the regular season, but lost 35–3 to the Baltimore Colts, runners-up of the Western Conference.1965 NFL playoffs
The 1965 NFL playoffs determined the champion of the National Football League in professional American football. Although a single championship game between conference winners was the current format for the league, a tie in the Western Conference standings between the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Colts necessitated a divisional one-game playoff, the first in the league in seven years and the first in the Western conference since 1957.
Although the championship game was played in 1966 on January 2, it is recognized as part of the 1965 NFL season. It was the latest date for an NFL Championship Game to that point, and the first time in league history that the game was held after all of the college bowl games.
The Playoff Bowl (a consolation game between the conference runners-up) for the 1965 season took place in Miami on January 9, 1966. The Colts defeated the Dallas Cowboys 35–3. This capped a season where the Western Conference won 15 out of 16 interconference games against the Eastern Conference, including the championship game and Playoff Bowl.1966 Baltimore Colts season
The 1966 Baltimore Colts season was the 14th season for the team in the National Football League. The Baltimore Colts finished the National Football League's 1966 season with a record of 9 wins and 5 losses and finished second in the Western Conference.1968 Dallas Cowboys season
The 1968 Dallas Cowboys season was their ninth in the league and won the Capitol division by five games with a 12–2 record. In the first round of the playoffs, Dallas met the Cleveland Browns (10–4) in the Eastern Conference title game, held at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland. In this era, the host sites were rotated, home field advantage was not adopted for the playoffs until 1975. Dallas had won the regular season game 28–7 in September, and had routed the Browns 52–14 in the previous year's playoffs, but both were played at the Cotton Bowl.
Cleveland upset the favored Cowboys 31–20, sending Dallas to the third place Playoff Bowl at the Orange Bowl in Miami, where they rallied to defeat the Minnesota Vikings, 17–13.The team averaged 30.8 points per game during the regular season, and holds the record for most points scored through the first three games of a season.List of Playoff Bowl broadcasters
The Playoff Bowl (officially, the Bert Bell Benefit Bowl) was a post-season game for third place in the NFL, played ten times following the 1960-69 seasons. It was abandoned in favor of the current playoff structure with the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The following is a list of the television networks and announcers that broadcast the Playoff Bowl during its existence.Maritime Football League
The Maritime Football League (MFL) is a men's Canadian football league in the Maritime Provinces of Canada. The season runs from May until the end of June. The league consists of former CFL, CIS, and High School football players.
|NFL Pro Bowls|
|AFC–NFC Pro Bowls|
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