Story of the Week
1940 NFL TITLE GAME
Any of you who think there are sure things in sports, forget it. You can be 100% logical in your evaluation of a forthcoming game or event, only to find that logic doesn’t win a bet. The best bet is not to give the points and not to take the points; it’s not to bet!
Case in point; the 1940 NFL title game. On December 8, the Chicago Bears played the Redskins in Washington. The ‘Skins were heavy favorites to win the game at home. But on that Sunday, the Bears played perfect football for a greater percentage of the official hour than any team before or since. The Bears scored 11 touchdowns that day. Try a 73-0 final score.
The Redskins were the closest witnesses to the sudden emergence of the T-formation. George Halas had been using lesser versions of it for 20 years. But after this game, the T reached a new peak, and within five years, most high school, college and pro teams were using it.
The Washington Redskins were a very good team, featuring one of the best quarterbacks of all-time, Sammy Baugh. How the Bears came to treat the ‘Skins like a collection of tackling dummies is no easy thing to answer.
It starts with one of the last games of the regular season, which featured the same two teams. Washington won in a defensive struggle, 7-3, but Chicago screamed loudly that they had been done out of the winning touchdown by a referee’s mistake. Redskins owner, George Preston Marshall, announced to the media that the Bears were "cry-babies." Marshall’s quote made excellent wallpaper in the Bears’ dressing room.
But the championship game was not just an emotional outburst by the Bears. Halas architected the game-plan very carefully, and the blue-print was all about the T-formation. The formation did more to open up the running game than it did to promote the passing game.
By the second half of the contest, the Bears were scoring at will; we’re talking 11 touchdowns here, and seven in the second half. The running game was totally one-sided; the Bears rolled up 347 yards on the ground to just three for the Redskins. Then there were the eight Chicago interceptions.
Pro football’s T-formation was the sudden sports news of the year, thanks to the legendary George Halas. If you took Washington minus the 8 points that day, you had a serious problem; you lost by 81 points.
Last Week’s Trivia
Two boxers have won an Olympic gold medal and a world championship, both in the heavyweight division. Who are they? Joe Frazier and George Foreman. Four other men have won an Olympic gold medal outside the heavyweight division, and then have gone on to win the heavyweight world title. Floyd Patterson and Michael Spinks won the gold in the middleweight division; Cassius Clay and Leon Spinks won the gold as light-heavyweights.
Trivia Question of the Week
What is the lowest attendance mark for a major league baseball team in one season? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.