1941 NFL season
The 1941 NFL season was the 22nd regular season of the National Football League. Before the season, Elmer Layden was named the first Commissioner of the NFL, while Carl Storck resigned as league president.
The league bylaws were changed to provide for playoffs in cases where division races are tied after the regular season, and rules for sudden-death overtimes in case a playoff game was tied after four quarters.
The defending league champion Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers finished the regular season tied in the Western Division, setting up the first divisional playoff game in league history. The Bears won 33–14, then defeated the New York Giants 37–9 in the NFL Championship Game. The Bears became the first team since the institution of the East-West championship in 1933 to repeat as champion.
Major rule changes
- The penalty for illegal shift is 5 yards.
- The penalty for illegal kick or bat is 15 yards.
- Whenever a player is ejected from the game, his team is penalized 15 yards.
- A personal foul committed by the opponent of the scoring team is enforced on the ensuing kickoff.
In addition to these rule changes, this season marked the first time that the league commissioner would become involved in enforcement of player conduct standards. Commissioner Elmer Layden in August assessed $25 fines on Green Bay Packers quarterback Larry Craig and New York Giants halfback Hank Soar for fighting.
Wilson became the official game ball of the NFL.
In the Eastern Division, the Redskins held a half-game after nine weeks of play; at 5–1–0, their only loss had been 17–10 to the 5–2 Giants. Washington lost its next three games, while the Giants won their next two. On November 23, the 5–2 Redskins met 6–2 New York, and the Giants' 20–13 win clinched the division.
The Western Division race was one between the Bears and Packers. By November 2, when the teams met at Wrigley Field, the Bears were 5–0 and the Packers 6–1, in part because of the Bears' earlier 25–17 win at Green Bay. Green Bay's 16–14 win put them in the lead, and they finished the regular season at 10–1 on November 30 with a 22–17 comeback win at Washington. On the afternoon of December 7, 1941, on the day Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor, the Bears were losing to the Cardinals, 14–0, and trailed 24–20 in the fourth quarter, before rallying for a 34–24 win. Both teams finished at 10–1 and a playoff was set to determine who would go to the title game. With the United States now embroiled in World War II, the Bears and Packers met at Wrigley Field, with Chicago winning 33–14.
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
|New York Giants||8||3||0||.727||238||114|
|Green Bay Packers||10||1||0||.909||258||120|
See: 1941 NFL playoffs
- Home team in capitals
Western Division Playoff Game
- CHI. BEARS 33, Green Bay 14
NFL Championship Game
- CHI. BEARS 37, N.Y. Giants 9
|Joe F. Carr Trophy (Most Valuable Player)||Don Hutson, Wide receiver, Green Bay|
|Passing||Cecil Isbell||Green Bay||1479|
|Receiving||Don Hutson||Green Bay||738|
- NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
- NFL History 1941–1950 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
- 1941 season in details
- Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)