Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy

Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy
Awarded for NFL Championship
Location Main trophy: Unknown
Replica trophies:
Various cities, though several are missing
Country United States
Presented by National Football League
First awarded 1934
Last awarded 1969
Currently held by Minnesota Vikings (1)
Most awards Green Bay Packers (8)

The Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy was the trophy awarded to the Champions of the National Football League from 1934 through 1969. The trophy was named after Ed Thorp, a noted referee, rules expert, sporting goods dealer, and friend to many of the early NFL owners. Thorp died in June 1934,[1][2] and a large, traveling trophy was made later that year.[3] It was to be passed along from champion to champion each season with each championship team's name inscribed on it.

Unlike the modern day Lombardi trophies, the Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy did not become the possession of the winning team, but instead spent a year with the winning team before being passed on to the next year’s champion, much like the Grey Cup in the Canadian Football League or the Stanley Cup in the National Hockey League.[4] In addition to their year with the Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy, though, teams were also awarded a smaller replica of the trophy, which they were allowed to keep.[5]

The current location of the trophy is unknown. The prevailing theory is that the Minnesota Vikings, who were the last to win the Trophy in 1969, somehow lost it when the league switched over to the Lombardi Trophy the following year.[5] The Vikings after winning the Thorp Trophy went on to face the American Football League champion the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFL-NFL World Championship Game (which is more commonly referred to as Super Bowl IV). The spirit of Ed Thorp is also rumoured to have cursed the Vikings, since they lost the trophy that was named in his honor. To date, the team has lost four Super Bowls.[4]

A similar incident occurred to the first trophy that was awarded to the NFL Champions, the Brunswick-Balke Collender Cup. In 1920, after the Akron Pros were awarded the league championship, that trophy also went missing (like the Thorp trophy, it too was initially to be passed down to each successive champion).[6][7] The Washington Redskins replica of the Thorp Trophy is on display at FedExField.[5]

The Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame Inc. holds three Ed Thorp trophies. Two of them are believed to be trophies presented to the Packers for winning titles in 1961 and 1962, while a third one has the names of the 18 champions from the 1934 New York Giants through the 1951 Los Angeles Rams engraved on it. Some believe this third trophy could actually be the missing trophy. One theory states that the Packers kept it after winning the title in 1965 when the league went to the current Super Bowl format in 1966. Another theory states that the Packers were given it in 1970 because they had won it the most times (8). A third theory states that the Baltimore Colts and Minnesota Vikings chose not to receive the trophy after they lost the Super Bowl to the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs respectively. The truth of this, though, remains a mystery.

List of Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy winners

Total trophies won

Club Winners Winning years
Green Bay Packers 8 1936, 1939, 1944, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967
Chicago Bears 5 1940, 1941, 1943, 1946, 1963
Cleveland Browns 4 1950, 1954, 1955, 1964
Detroit Lions 4 1935, 1952, 1953, 1957
Baltimore Colts 3 1958, 1959, 1968
New York Giants 3 1934, 1938, 1956
Philadelphia Eagles 3 1948, 1949, 1960
Cleveland /Los Angeles Rams 2 1945, 1951
Washington Redskins 2 1937, 1942
Chicago Cardinals 1 1947
Minnesota Vikings 1 1969

Non-winners (5): Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints

See also


  1. "Ed Thorp, football authority, is dead". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. June 23, 1934. p. 6.
  2. "Ed Thorp, grid arbiter, dies". Berkeley Daily Gazette. California. United Press. June 23, 1934. p. 10.
  3. "Thorp memorial trophy for pro football champs". The Day. New London, Connecticut. Associated Press. July 2, 1934. p. 14.
  4. 1 2 McCain, Josh. "Minnesota Vikings: The Curse of the Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy". Bleacher Report.
  5. 1 2 3 "Inside Redskins Park: The Other Championship Trophy". The Official Redskins Blog. Washington Redskins. 2008.
  6. Carroll, Bob (1982). "Akron Pros 1920" (PDF). Coffin Corner. Professional Football Researchers Association. 4 (12): 14.
  7. Peterson, Robert W (1997-01-01). "Pigskin: The Early Years of Pro Football". ISBN 978-0-19-511913-8.
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