If you’re looking for some black humor on this Pearl Harbor Day, check out this story I unearthed a while back — specifically the lead. It showed up on commentary pages in 1991, the 50th anniversary of Japan’s attack.
I call attention to it because, yes, the NFL did wrap up the 1941 regular season on Dec. 7. There were three games that day — in New York, Washington and Chicago. But the Packers didn’t play in any of them. They had completed their schedule the week before and were waiting to see if there would be a playoff with the Bears to decide the West Division title. (There would, indeed. George Halas’ team beat the crosstown Cardinals on Dec. 7 to finish tied with Green Bay at 10-1.)
Let that be a cautionary tale, all you J-schoolers out there. It’s always a bad idea to reminisce about things that never happened, especially when it’s so easy to verify whether they did. Even if you don’t get caught right away, you might get exposed 23 years down the road by some curmudgeon like me. (Assuming, that is, I’m the first curmudgeon to arrive at the scene.)
OK, where was I? Right, Dec. 7, 1941. For the record, this is what the NFL scoreboard looked like at the end of the day:
Dodgers 21, Giants 7 (at the Polo Grounds)
Redskins 20, Eagles 14 (at Griffith Stadium)
Bears 34, Cardinals 24 (at Comiskey Park)
Sportswriting in that period was just fabulous, wasn’t it? Now that I’ve read this, I can hardly wait to describe a player as “a dark-brown warrior from the Iowa corn belt.”
It was Tuffy Leemans Day, by the way, at the Polo Grounds. The Giants’ Hall of Fame back was given a silver tray inscribed by his teammates and $1,500 in defense bonds. Two years later, the Steelers and Eagles merged into the “Steagles” — just to keep going. The Rams, meanwhile, shut down for the season and dispersed their players — the few, that is, that weren’t in the military — among the other clubs in the league.
Dec. 7, 1941. The Packers, as I recall, were off that day.
Sources: Brooklyn Eagle, pro-football-reference.com.