History of NFL exhibition games?

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History of NFL exhibition games?

Post  LarryB on Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:37 pm

Posting in another thread about pictures that I found, the question of exhibition games came to me.

How long has the NFL played a few games before the season? Since the NFL began or what point in time. I think the AAFC also played them from seeing some pictures posted here.

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Re: History of NFL exhibition games?

Post  Rob Holecko on Wed Jun 29, 2011 6:55 pm

Well, they always played non-league games -- back before there was an NFL, and then they started sanctioning "league" official games, but the teams would still play exhibitions against each other as well as against non-league teams, and not just before the season, but during and after as well. In fact I think one early NFL championship got decided because two teams played a game that was supposed to be an exhibition, but the other team thought it should count, and the league voted the champion (before 1933 when divisions were formed there wasn't a championship game, just best standings decided title)

I know in that article Tim mentioned from 1941, the Eagles went up to Wisconsin for "training camp" and they had a scrimmage against the Packers while there

This site shows exhibition games played by teams through the years: http://www.profootballarchives.com/index.html

Tim introduced me to that site, I'm sure he could add more to this discussion..
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Re: History of NFL exhibition games?

Post  LarryB on Thu Jun 30, 2011 12:16 am

Thanks for that site. Sheesh I just looked at it quickly. In 1957 it looked like the Rams played 12 regular season games and 6 exhibitions.

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Re: History of NFL exhibition games?

Post  timmyb on Thu Jun 30, 2011 9:14 am

profootballarchives is a great site for exhibition games. Just wish the webmaster could do it in a seasonal weekly format as well as the team by team format. Still, it's an invaluable resource when trying to track down those oddball uni combos we come across.

Rob, the season you are referring to is 1925. The Pottsville Maroons apparently won the league title after they beat the Cardinals 21-7 in Chicago. The Maroons then decided to play a team of Notre Dame All-Stars (not sure if this was an alumni team or players from the actual Irish squad) in an exhibition game in Philadelphia. This caused a ruckus from the Frankford Yellow Jackets, a team based in the Frankford section of Philly as they claimed that Pottsville was infringing on their territory. The Jackets filed a protest with the NFL. President Joe Carr told the Maroons not to play the game or else there would be trouble. Maroons officials said they received the green light to play from Carr via telephone.

Meanwhile since the Maroons NFL season was finished, the Cardinals either quickly scheduled two more league games (likely) or had two more scheduled league games (doubtful). In any event, the Cards won both and then claimed the NFL Championship. Carr then ruled in the Cardinals favor and awarded the championship to Chicago and actually kicked Pottsville out of the NFL for playing the Notre Dame game, though they would be reinstated for 1926.

To this day, the coal town of Pottsville lays claim to the 1925 title. Personally, I'd like to see the NFL list both the Cardinals and Maroons as co-champions. I think the NFL actually re-investigated this situation only 8 or 9 years ago and kept the Cardinals as sole champions.

Today, Pottsville is best known for being the hometown of Yuengling Beer. A fine brew! Wink

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Re: History of NFL exhibition games?

Post  timmyb on Thu Jun 30, 2011 9:48 am

As far as exhibition games go, I'll use the early years of the Steelers as an example:

1933: No preseason games, had an exhib game scheduled vs the Reading Keys (musy have been semi-pro) for 11/26 that was canceled.
1934: No preseason games. Had one in season exhib game (11/6 vs Warren (PA) Hyvis Oils) and two post season exhibs (11/25 St Louis Gunners, 12/2 College All-Stars)
1935: Preseason 9/8 Portage (PA) Bulldogs, one post season 12/14 College All-Stars.
1936: One in season 11/21 Los Angeles Bulldogs
1937: None
1938: Preseason 9/3 St. Rosalia Preps, 9/4 Modern A.C. All-Stars. In season 9/26 Boston Shamrocks, 10/11 Cincinnati Bengals, 10/30 Warren Red Jackets, 10/31 McKeesport Olympics, 11/11 Los Angeles Bulldogs, 11/13 Los Angeles Bulldogs
1939: Preseason 8/25 Green Bay Packers, 9/4 Minerva Merchants. In season: 10/4 McKeesport, 11/12 Richmond Arrows
1940: Preseason 8/30 Chicago Bears
1941: Preseason 9/1 Detroit Lions
1942: Preseason 8/21 Cleveland Rams, 9/5 Chicago Bears. In season 11/15 Fort Knox
1943: Preseason 9/11 Green Bay Packers, 9/16 Chicago Bears
1944: Preseason 9/12 Phildelphia Eagles, 9/18 Washington Redskins
1945: Preseason 9/2 Cleveland Rams, 9/19 Green Bay Packers
1946: Preseason 8/23 Scranton Miners, 8/30 Newark Bombers, 9/8 Richmond Rebels, 9/15 Paterson Panthers
1947: Preseason: 8/22 Bethlehem Bulldogs, 8/29 Green Bay Packers, 9/6 Norfolk Shamrocks, 0/13 Richmond Rebels
1948: Preseason: 8/22 Chicago Bears, 9/5 Green Bay Packers, 9/12 Detroit Lions, 9/26 Washington Redskins
1949: Preseason: 8/20 Chicago Bears, 8/28 Green Bay Packers, 9/2 Erie Vets, 9/7 Richmond Rebels, 9/10 Detroit Lions, 9/14 Chicago Cardinals

By 1950, the Steelers are playing 6 or 7 preseason games, which would be the norm for most teams until 1978, when the preseason slate was reduced to 4 or 5 games.

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