1941 NFL season

1941 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 7 – December 7, 1941
East Champions New York Giants
West Champions Chicago Bears
Championship Game
Champions Chicago Bears

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. Layden also took on the duties of president and signed a five-year contract at $20,000 annually.[1]

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 at Wrigley Field on December 14, then defeated the New York Giants 37–9 in the NFL championship game at Wrigley Field on December 21. The Bears, averaging 36 points per game, became the first team since the institution of the East-West championship in 1933 to repeat as champion.[2]

The total attendance for the league's 55 regular season games was 1,118,616. This represented an increase of 9% over the previous season's attendance.[2]

Major rule changes

In addition to these rule changes, this season marked the first time that the league commissioner became 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.[4]

Wilson became the official game ball of the NFL.

Division Races

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 5–2-0 Giants, who had lost two games in a row. Washington, however, lost its next three games, while the Giants rebounded to win their next two games. On November 23, the 5–3 Redskins met 7–2 New York at the Polo Grounds, and the Giants' 20–13 win clinched the division championship.

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 on December 14, with Chicago winning 33–14.

Final standings

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

Eastern Division
New York Giants 830.727238114
Brooklyn Dodgers 740.636158127
Washington Redskins 650.545176174
Philadelphia Eagles 281.200119218
Pittsburgh Steelers 191.100103276
Western Division
Chicago Bears 1010.909396147
Green Bay Packers 1010.909258120
Detroit Lions 461.400121195
Chicago Cardinals 371.300127197
Cleveland Rams 290.182116244


Western Division Playoff Game

Main article: 1941 NFL playoffs

NFL Championship Game

Home team in capitals


Joe F. Carr Trophy (Most Valuable Player)   Don Hutson, Wide receiver, Green Bay

League leaders

Statistic Name Team Yards
Passing Cecil Isbell Green Bay 1479
Rushing Pug Manders Brooklyn 486
Receiving Don Hutson Green Bay 738


  1. Strickler, George (April 6, 1941). "Layden installed as pro football commissioner". Chicago Sunday Tribune. p. 1, part 2.
  2. 1 2 Kirksey, George (December 26, 1941). "Chicago Bears dominate pro grid picture". Telegraph Herald. Dubuque, Iowa. United Press. p. 10.
  3. "11 rule changes in pro football are approved". Chicago Daily Tribune. April 7, 1941. p. 26.
  4. "Layden Fines Two Pros for Fighting". Pittsburgh Press. United Press. August 26, 1941. p. 18. Retrieved May 20, 2011.
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