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1932 NFL season

1932 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 18 – December 11, 1932
Because the Portsmouth Spartans and the Chicago Bears finished the season tied for first place, a playoff game was held to determine the NFL champion.
Champions Chicago Bears

The 1932 NFL season was the 13th regular season of the National Football League. Even though the Boston Braves (the current Washington Redskins) joined the NFL before the season, with the loss of the Providence Steam Rollers, Cleveland Indians and Frankford Yellow Jackets, league membership dropped to eight teams, the lowest in NFL history.

Although the Green Bay Packers had finished the season with 10 wins, the league title was determined by winning percentage, with ties omitted, so The Portsmouth Spartans and the Chicago Bears finished the season tied for first place (6–1). For the first time, the NFL arranged for a playoff game to determine the NFL champion. Extremely cold weather forced the game to be moved from Wrigley Field to the indoor Chicago Stadium. The makeshift football field in the stadium was only 80 yards long with undersized endzones. The planners were forced to move the goal posts to the goal line because there was not enough space to put them at the back of the endzone, as was standard in college and professional ball; apparently this change was favored since keeping the goal posts at the goal line was one of the several changes the league made to the rules starting in 1933. The Bears won the game 9–0, which was scoreless until the fourth quarter. The game counted in the final standings, which moved the Spartans to third place.

The Spartans became the Detroit Lions in 1934.


  • Championship race 1
  • Standings 2
  • Playoffs 3
  • League leaders 4
  • References 5

Championship race

Following the 1932 season, the NFL would be split into two divisions (and later two conferences), the champions of whom would meet in a championship game. This was the result of the end of the 1932 season: there was a tie in the standings at the end of regularly scheduled play. Tie games did not count at all, so the Spartans' (6–1–4) and the Bears' (6–1–6) records both qualified as 6 wins, 1 loss, for a .857 percentage. Under the half-win, half-loss treatment used later for ties, Portsmouth would have finished at .727 and Chicago at .692, respectively, while Green Bay's 10–3–1 would have won the championship at .750.

The Green Bay Packers were unbeaten (8–0–1) after nine games, and after the Thanksgiving weekend, their 10–1–1 record was still well ahead of Portsmouth (5–1–4) and Chicago (4–1–6). In Week Twelve (December 4), the Spartans handed the Packers a 19–0 defeat, while the Bears beat the Giants 6–0. Portsmouth, at 6–1–4 (.857) took the lead, while the Packers (10–2–1) and the Bears (5–1–6) were tied for second (.833). In Week Thirteen, the Bears hosted the Packers. Had Green Bay won, an 11–2–1 finish would still have kept it at second (.846), but the Bears handed the Packers a 9–0 loss, giving them a 6–1–6 finish and a tie in the standings with Portsmouth. Though described as a "playoff", the Bears 9–0 win over Portsmouth on December 18 counted in the regular season standings, with the Bears (7–1–6 and .875) ahead of the Packers (10–3–1 and .769) and the Spartans (6–2–4 and .750).


NFL standings
Chicago Bears * 7 1 6 .875 160 44 W3
Green Bay Packers 10 3 1 .769 152 63 L2
Portsmouth Spartans * 6 2 4 .750 116 71 L1
Boston Braves 4 4 2 .500 55 79 W2
New York Giants 4 6 2 .400 93 113 L1
Brooklyn Dodgers 3 9 0 .250 63 131 L4
Chicago Cardinals 2 6 2 .250 72 114 L5
Staten Island Stapletons 2 7 3 .222 93 113 L1

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.
* The Bears and Spartans records include the result of the 1932 NFL Playoff Game, hence the Spartans lower winning percentage than the Packers.


Playoff Game
December 18, 1932 – Chicago Stadium
 Chicago Bears  9
 Portsmouth Spartans  0

League leaders

Statistic Name Team Yards
Passing Arnie Herber Green Bay 639
Rushing Cliff Battles Boston 576
Receiving Ray Flaherty New York 350


  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 1931–1940 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
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