Random Thoughts: A unique football game – part 1

 

January 24, 2020



With the Super Bowl fast approaching, perhaps the time is right to look at a unique football game that constitutes an interesting anomaly in the evolution of the most popular sport in the United States.

For most of the 20th century, baseball was the professional sport that Americans followed most. Baseball was our “national pastime.”

But football – long popular on college campuses – was coming along. One of the things that elevated football’s popularity were rules changes that increased the number of “forward passes” teams would throw in a game.

More passes not only increased the excitement of the action on the field, they also led to more scoring. Early football games were often low-scoring affairs, but that is seldom the case today.

At any rate, the unique game that is the subject of this article occurred in the middle of the 20th century – on Sunday, Dec. 3, 1950. The venue was Cleveland Stadium where the hometown Browns hosted the Philadelphia Eagles.

A relatively small crowd of 37,490 fans witnessed the contest. A heavy rain not only made the field extremely muddy, but also lowered the game’s attendance.

This contest marked the second time the teams had met during the 1950 season. The upstart Browns were new to the National Football League (NFL), having come over from the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), which had gone out of business in 1949.


The AAFC existed for only four seasons, and the Browns had won the league championship each of those years. But how would they fare in the NFL?

They answered that question during the first week of the 1950 season. They traveled to Philadelphia to meet the Eagles, who had won the 1949 NFL championship.

Behind the leadership of future Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham, the Browns embarrassed the Eagles in that Week One contest by the score of 35 to 10.

The mighty Eagles wanted revenge against the Browns when they played the rematch in December. We will see what happened next week in part 2 of this story.

 

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