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Thread: There were NFL champions before 1966

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    Big Red Machine RedsBaron's Avatar
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    There were NFL champions before 1966

    One of my pet peeves is how so many members of the media act as if the NFL started in 1966, the season is which the first Super Bowl was played. I jsut finished reading an article about the quarterbacks who have won multiple Super Bowls. I regularly see lists about the number of Super Bowls won by the 49ers, the Steelers, the Cowboys, et al.
    I get it. The Super Bowl is the biggest sports event in the USA. It is just that I wish the media would sometimes remember that there were NFL champions and championship winning QBs before 1966.
    Bart Starr and his Packers won the first two Super Bowls, but he and they won a total of five NFL titles counting the 1961, 1962 and 1965 championships. Yes, the Browns haven't won a Super Bowl, but they won NFL titles in 1950, 1954, 1955 and 1964, and Otto Graham QB'd the first three crowns. Johnny Unitas is on the list of back-to-back championship winning QBs for his Colts 1958-59 champs.
    "Hey...Dad. Wanna Have A Catch?" Kevin Costner in "Field Of Dreams."

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    Re: There were NFL champions before 1966

    I completely agree, RB. Good post.

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    The Boss dougdirt's Avatar
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    Re: There were NFL champions before 1966

    Anything that gives the Browns credit for something is inherently wrong in my book.

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    Re: There were NFL champions before 1966

    I think a lot of this neglect of history was done to placate the AFL guys. Guys like Al Davis, Ralph Wilson, Lamar Hunt, Bud Adams and so on, who had been shut out of the old NFL until the merger.
    When all is said and done more is said than done.

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    My clutch is broken RichRed's Avatar
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    Re: There were NFL champions before 1966

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsBaron View Post
    One of my pet peeves is how so many members of the media act as if the NFL started in 1966, the season is which the first Super Bowl was played. I jsut finished reading an article about the quarterbacks who have won multiple Super Bowls. I regularly see lists about the number of Super Bowls won by the 49ers, the Steelers, the Cowboys, et al.
    I get it. The Super Bowl is the biggest sports event in the USA. It is just that I wish the media would sometimes remember that there were NFL champions and championship winning QBs before 1966.
    Bart Starr and his Packers won the first two Super Bowls, but he and they won a total of five NFL titles counting the 1961, 1962 and 1965 championships. Yes, the Browns haven't won a Super Bowl, but they won NFL titles in 1950, 1954, 1955 and 1964, and Otto Graham QB'd the first three crowns. Johnny Unitas is on the list of back-to-back championship winning QBs for his Colts 1958-59 champs.
    I agree, RedsBaron, and this has bugged me for years. It's a shame that such an extensive portion of pro football history is largely ignored.
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    Matt's Dad RANDY IN INDY's Avatar
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    Re: There were NFL champions before 1966

    Totally on the mark, RedsBaron!
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    A Little to the Left Redsfaithful's Avatar
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    Re: There were NFL champions before 1966

    Football just doesn't seem to care much about its history in general. Such a contrast with baseball.
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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: There were NFL champions before 1966

    You can win a bar bet with people by betting them that the Vikings were NFL champions.
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    Member medford's Avatar
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    Re: There were NFL champions before 1966

    I think there are a couple of things affecting this, at least compared to baseball.

    Baseball does care more about its history and stats than football, but baseball has remained largely unchanged over the last 100 years. Aside from the DH, how much has baseball fundamentally changed? Guys still threw in the mid 90s, and hit balls out of the ball park, stole bases, made great catches, etc... Its much easier to compare a player of today and his production to players of years past in baseball. Think about it, the top 3 home run hitters, Ruth, Aaron & Bonds all played in vastly different time frames and despite the increased focus on excercise, fitness, muscle building (perhaps some not done naturally) all 3 legends hit a roughly equal number of homers.

    In football, pre-merger a 250 pound lineman wasn't an odd site. Today, your running back & QB might be 250. People used to throw fore-arm shivers and close-line tackles, tie up your reciever 20 yards down the field. Today, rules have changed that have completely opened up offenses compared to just 10-15 seasons ago. Its almost impossible to accurately compare Aaron Rogers to Dan Marino to Bart Starr based upon stats alone, like you can in baseball.

    The other aspect that I think affects this, in 1965, the NFL was a 14 team setup, when the super bowl started, the AFL was a 9 team setup. A few seasons later, the Bengals, Falcons & Saints were added to the mix by the time the merge was complete. The NFL nearly doubled in a 4 year span from the time of the 1st super bowl to the time of the merger in 1969. And unlike your traditional expansion, were teams are on the low end of the talent scale, there were AFL teams that could compete and win championships during this time period. You weren't working in bottom of the standing organizations that could be ignored by the average fan, you were adding teams expected to compete for titles, teams with history.

    The super bowl and subsequent merger gives the NFL a fairly clear cut line b/w the "old" nfl and the modern era NFL. Baseball has no clear cut line to seperate its history from its present.

    Finally, the term "super bowl" makes the split even more apparent. My 3 year old son will one day know with no explanations needed from me that the Cubs actually won a world series once upon a time. He'll know that the Reds played in and won multiple world series before his grandfather was even alive. He'll know what the world series is, because that is what they'll be playing for today. The Cleveland Browns never played for a "super bowl championship" because the super bowl didn't exist until the 3rd AFL-NFL championship game. Once you have to explain exactly what the "NFL title game" was, and why its no longer referred to by that title, you've lost the average fan growing up today.

    The media doesn't play to the "sports nerd" like myself and presumably most on this board. It plays to the casual fan who tunes in to watch a game and tunes back out afterwords. Doesn't really care about the history, doesn't care how many homers Babe Ruth hit, or Jim Brown ran for. They only care for what they see today and then move forward with life.

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    Big Red Machine RedsBaron's Avatar
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    Re: There were NFL champions before 1966

    Quote Originally Posted by medford View Post

    The media doesn't play to the "sports nerd" like myself and presumably most on this board. It plays to the casual fan who tunes in to watch a game and tunes back out afterwords. Doesn't really care about the history, doesn't care how many homers Babe Ruth hit, or Jim Brown ran for. They only care for what they see today and then move forward with life.
    ESPN used to have a show where it would purport to rank the top 20 teams, players, etc. in various categories (maybe it still has the prgram on ESPN Classic, which I no longer get). The show was extremely short on analysis and for the most part poorly done, but one thing I noticed was a clear bias towards more recent teams and athletes, other than perhaps the 1927 Yankees. I think one reason for this was the lack of good video footage of older teams/athletes, and the video that was available was black and white, not color.
    The Super Bowl has always been played in the color TV era, so it helps the media focus on that era while ignoring anything than happened before 1966.
    "Hey...Dad. Wanna Have A Catch?" Kevin Costner in "Field Of Dreams."

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    Hisssssssss Yachtzee's Avatar
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    Re: There were NFL champions before 1966

    My feeling about the pre-Super Bowl/current era NFL is that it resembles the change in MLB that came when the AL arrived on the scene. Like the pre-AL era, pro football before the AFL was often in a state of flux, where teams and leagues would come and go. In fact, I think one could argue that the college game was as much if not more popular than the NFL. You also didn't have the money in the NFL that would convince a lot of college educated players to choose pro football over starting a career in another field (baseball always had the advantage of grabbing athletes before college, so potential earnings were less than for a football player who had been to college).

    The advent of the AFL and the Super Bowl represents a big transformation in the pro game. First, the AFL stabilized the expansion/contraction of the pro game by putting teams in new markets with financially viable owners who had been shut out of the NFL. Second, the AFL brought about rule changes and other changes that made the game more appealing to TV audiences. Third, with the AFL and NFL taking a more focused approach on courting TV viewers and advertisers, the money put back into the game gave the pro game the wherewithal to convince more college athletes to go pro and establish clear supremacy over the college game.

    Granted, much of my knowledge on the era is based on reading a few books and discussions on the topic with my dad. But I don't think my notion is too far fetched when you hear about as much about great college teams from that era as you do the NFL champs. One could say that Notre Dame was much closer to being America's Team in those days as the Cowboys have ever been.
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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: There were NFL champions before 1966

    Quote Originally Posted by Yachtzee View Post
    My feeling about the pre-Super Bowl/current era NFL is that it resembles the change in MLB that came when the AL arrived on the scene. Like the pre-AL era, pro football before the AFL was often in a state of flux, where teams and leagues would come and go. In fact, I think one could argue that the college game was as much if not more popular than the NFL. You also didn't have the money in the NFL that would convince a lot of college educated players to choose pro football over starting a career in another field (baseball always had the advantage of grabbing athletes before college, so potential earnings were less than for a football player who had been to college).

    The advent of the AFL and the Super Bowl represents a big transformation in the pro game. First, the AFL stabilized the expansion/contraction of the pro game by putting teams in new markets with financially viable owners who had been shut out of the NFL. Second, the AFL brought about rule changes and other changes that made the game more appealing to TV audiences. Third, with the AFL and NFL taking a more focused approach on courting TV viewers and advertisers, the money put back into the game gave the pro game the wherewithal to convince more college athletes to go pro and establish clear supremacy over the college game.

    Granted, much of my knowledge on the era is based on reading a few books and discussions on the topic with my dad. But I don't think my notion is too far fetched when you hear about as much about great college teams from that era as you do the NFL champs. One could say that Notre Dame was much closer to being America's Team in those days as the Cowboys have ever been.

    Good point, the Pre sixties NFL was a sporting chataqua at best.

    The best book I've read on the growth of the league was America's Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation

    Really insightful


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