Chronology of Football 1951-1960
1951 | 1952 | 1953
| 1954 | 1955 | 1956
| 1957 | 1958 | 1959
The Pro Bowl game, dormant since 1942, was revived under a new format
matching the all-stars of each conference at the Los Angeles Memorial
Coliseum. The American Conference defeated the National Conference
28-27, January 14.
returned the Baltimore franchise and its player contracts back to
the NFL for $50,000. Baltimore's former players were made available
for drafting at the same time as college players, January 18.
A rule was passed that no tackle, guard,
or center would be eligible to catch a forward pass, January 18.
The Rams reversed their television policy
and televised only road games.
The NFL Championship Game was televised coast-to-coast
for the first time, December 23. The DuMont Network paid $75,000
for the rights to the game, in which the Rams defeated the Browns
Ted Collins sold the New York Yanks' franchise back to the NFL,
January 19. A new franchise was awarded to a group in Dallas after
it purchased the assets of the Yanks, January 24. The new Texans
went 1-11, with the owners turning the franchise back to the league
in midseason. For the last five games of the season, the commissioner's
office operated the Texans as a road team, using Hershey, Pennsylvania,
as a home base. At the end of the season the franchise was canceled,
the last time an NFL team failed.
The Pittsburgh Steelers abandoned the Single-Wing
for the T-formation, the last pro team to do so.
The Detroit Lions won their first NFL championship
in 17 years, defeating the Browns 17-7 in the title game, December
A Baltimore group headed by Carroll Rosenbloom was granted a franchise
and was awarded the holdings of the defunct Dallas organization,
January 23. The team, named the Colts, put together the largest
trade in league history, acquiring 10 players from Cleveland in
exchange for five.
The names of the American and National conferences
were changed to the Eastern and Western conferences, January 24.
Jim Thorpe died, March 28.
Mickey McBride, founder of the Cleveland Browns,
sold the franchise to a syndicate headed by Dave R. Jones, June
The NFL policy of blacking out home games
was upheld by Judge Allan K. Grim of the U.S. District Court in
Philadelphia, November 12. The Lions again defeated the Browns in
the NFL Championship Game, winning 17-16, December 27.
The Canadian Football League began a series of raids on NFL teams,
signing quarterback Eddie LeBaron and defensive end Gene Brito of
Washington and defensive tackle Arnie Weinmeister of the Giants,
Fullback Joe Perry of the 49ers became the
first player in league history to gain 1,000 yards rushing in consecutive
Cleveland defeated Detroit 56-10 in the NFL
Championship Game, December 26.
The sudden-death overtime rule was used for the first time in a
pre- season game between the Rams and Giants at Portland, Oregon,
August 28. The Rams won 23-17 three minutes into overtime.
A rule change declared the ball dead immediately
if the ball carrier touched the ground with any part of his body
except his hands or feet while in the grasp of an opponent.
The Baltimore Colts made an 80-cent phone
call to Johnny Unitas and signed him as a free agent. Another quarterback,
Otto Graham, played his last game as the Browns defeated the Rams
38-14 in the NFL Championship Game, December 26. Graham had quarterbacked
the Browns to 10 championship-game appearances in 10 years.
NBC replaced DuMont as the network for the
title game, paying a rights fee of $100,000.
The NFL Players Association was founded.
Grabbing an opponent's facemask (other than
the ball carrier) was made illegal. Using radio receivers to communicate
with players on the field was prohibited. A natural leather ball
with white end stripes replaced the white ball with black stripes
for night games.
The Giants moved from the Polo Grounds to
Halas retired as coach of the Bears, and was
replaced by Paddy Driscoll.
CBS became the first network to broadcast
some NFL regular-season games to selected television markets across
The Giants routed the Bears 47-7 in the NFL
Championship Game, December 30.
Pete Rozelle was named general manager of the Rams. Anthony J. Morabito,
founder and co-owner of the 49ers, died of a heart attack during
a game against the Bears at Kezar Stadium, October 28. An NFL-record
crowd of 102,368 saw the 49ers-Rams game at the Los Angeles Memorial
Coliseum, November 10.
The Lions came from 20 points down to post
a 31-27 playoff victory over the 49ers, December 22. Detroit defeated
Cleveland 59-14 in the NFL Championship Game, December 29.
The bonus selection in the draft was eliminated, January 29. The
last selection was quarterback King Hill of Rice by the Chicago
Cardinals. Halas reinstated himself as coach of the Bears.
Jim Brown of Cleveland gained an NFL-record
1,527 yards rushing. In a divisional playoff game, the Giants held
Brown to eight yards and defeated Cleveland 10-0.
Baltimore, coached by Weeb Ewbank, defeated
the Giants 23-17 in the first sudden-death overtime in an NFL Championship
Game, December 28. The game ended when Colts fullback Alan Ameche
scored on a one-yard touchdown run after 8:15 of overtime.
Vince Lombardi was named head coach of the Green Bay Packers, January
28. Tim Mara, the co-founder of the Giants, died, February 17.
Lamar Hunt of Dallas announced his intentions
to form a second pro football league. The first meeting was held
in Chicago, August 14, and consisted of Hunt representing Dallas;
Bob Howsam, Denver; K.S. (Bud) Adams, Houston; Barron Hilton, Los
Angeles; Max Winter and Bill Boyer, Minneapolis; and Harry Wismer,
New York City. They made plans to begin play in 1960.
The new league was named the American Football
League, August 22. Buffalo, owned by Ralph Wilson, became the seventh
franchise, October 28. Boston, owned by William H. Sullivan, became
the eighth team, November 22. The first AFL draft, lasting 33 rounds,
was held, November 22. Joe Foss was named AFL Commissioner, November
30. An additional draft of 20 rounds was held by the AFL, December
NFL Commissioner Bert Bell died of a heart
attack suffered at Franklin Field, Philadelphia, during the last
two minutes of a game between the Eagles and the Steelers, October
11. Treasurer Austin Gunsel was named president in the office of
the commissioner, October 14.
The Colts again defeated the Giants in the
NFL Championship Game, 31-16, December 27.
Pete Rozelle was elected NFL Commissioner as a compromise choice
on the twenty-third ballot, January 26. Rozelle moved the league
offices to New York City.
Hunt was elected AFL president for 1960, January
26. Minneapolis withdrew from the AFL, January 27, and the same
ownership was given an NFL franchise for Minnesota (to start in
1961), January 28. Dallas received an NFL franchise for 1960, January
28. Oakland received an AFL franchise, January 30.
The AFL adopted the two-point option on points
after touchdown, January 28. A no-tampering verbal pact, relative
to players' contracts, was agreed to between the NFL and AFL, February
9. The NFL owners voted to allow the transfer of the Chicago Cardinals
to St. Louis, March 13.
The AFL signed a five-year television contract
with ABC, June 9. The Boston Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills
28-7 before 16,000 at Buffalo in the first AFL preseason game, July
30. The Denver Broncos defeated the Patriots 13-10 before 21,597
at Boston in the first AFL regular-season game, September 9.
Philadelphia defeated Green Bay 17-13 in the
NFL Championship Game, December 26.