The 1939 NFL season was the 20th regular season of the National Football League. Before the season, NFL president Joseph Carr died, and Carl Storck was named to replace him.
An NFL game was televised for the first time when NBC broadcast a Brooklyn Dodgers–Philadelphia Eagles game. The experimental broadcast was broadcast only to viewers in New York and Albany; regular broadcasting of NFL games would not begin until 1951.
The season ended when the Green Bay Packers defeated the New York Giants in the NFL Championship Game.
Major rule changes
- The penalty for an ineligible receiver who touches a forward pass is 15 yards and a loss of down.
- The penalty for an ineligible receiver who is downfield prior to a forward pass being thrown is 15 yards and a loss of down.
- If a kickoff goes out of bounds after only being touched by members of the receiving team, the receiving team takes possession of the ball at that inbounds spot.
Though both the Giants and the Packers finished a game ahead of their closest division rivals, both clinched their divisions on December 3, the final day of the 11-game regular season. The New York Giants and Washington Redskins had played to a 0–0 tie earlier in the season, and both had 8–1–1 records when they met at New York's Polo Grounds before a crowd of 62,404. The Giants didn't reach the end zone, but three field goals were enough for a 9–7 win and the division title.
The Western Division race was between the Lions, Bears and Packers. Detroit was unbeaten after four games, but on October 22, Green Bay beat them 26–7 to give both teams records of 4–1–0. The same day, the 4–1 Bears lost 16–13 to the Giants to fall to 4–2. In Week Nine (November 5), the Lions beat the Giants 18–14, while the Bears beat the Packers 30–27, giving Detroit the lead at 6–1–0. The next week (November 12), the Bears beat the Lions 23–13, and the Packers beat the Eagles 23–16, tying Detroit and Green Bay at 6–2–0, half a game ahead of the 6–3–0 Bears. On November 19, the Lions lost to the Rams, 14–3, while the Packers and Bears both won. On November 26, the Bears closed their season at 8–3–0 after a 48–7 win over the Cardinals, while the Packers edged the Rams, 7–6 to reach 8–2–0. Green Bay was behind 7–3 at halftime in its season ender at Detroit, and a loss would have forced a playoff for the Western Division, but Clarke Hinkle's touchdown in the final quarter gave the Packers a 12–7 win and the division title.
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
NFL Championship Game
Green Bay 27, N.Y. Giants 0, at State Fair Park, West Allis, Wisconsin, December 10, 1939