1939 NFL season

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1939 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 10 – December 10, 1939
East ChampionsNew York Giants
West ChampionsGreen Bay Packers
Championship Game
ChampionsGreen Bay Packers

The 1939 NFL season was the 20th regular season of the National Football League. Before the season, NFL president Joseph Carr died, and Carl Storck was named to replace him.

An NFL game was televised for the first time when NBC broadcast a Brooklyn DodgersPhiladelphia Eagles game; the experimental broadcast was broadcast only to viewers in New York and Albany; regular broadcasting of NFL games would not begin until 1951.

The season ended when the Green Bay Packers defeated the New York Giants in the NFL Championship Game.

Major rule changes[edit]

  • The penalty for an ineligible receiver who touches a forward pass is 15 yards and a loss of down.
  • The penalty for an ineligible receiver who is downfield prior to a forward pass being thrown is 15 yards and a loss of down.
  • If a kickoff goes out of bounds after only being touched by members of the receiving team, the receiving team takes possession of the ball at that inbounds spot.

Division races[edit]

Though both the Giants and the Packers finished a game ahead of their closest division rivals, both clinched their divisions on December 3, the final day of the 11-game regular season; the New York Giants and Washington Redskins had played to a 0–0 tie earlier in the season, and both had 8–1–1 records when they met at New York's Polo Grounds before a crowd of 62,404. The Giants did not reach the end zone, but three field goals were enough for a 9–7 win and the division title.

The Western Division race was between the Lions, Bears and Packers. Detroit was unbeaten after four games, but on October 22, Green Bay beat them 26–7 to give both teams records of 4–1–0; the same day, the 4–1 Bears lost 16–13 to the Giants to fall to 4–2. In Week Nine (November 5), the Lions beat the Giants 18–14, while the Bears beat the Packers 30–27, giving Detroit the lead at 6–1–0; the next week (November 12), the Bears beat the Lions 23–13, and the Packers beat the Eagles 23–16, tying Detroit and Green Bay at 6–2–0, half a game ahead of the 6–3–0 Bears. On November 19, the Lions lost to the Rams, 14–3, while the Packers and Bears both won. On November 26, the Bears closed their season at 8–3–0 after a 48–7 win over the Cardinals, while the Packers edged the Rams, 7–6 to reach 8–2–0. Green Bay was behind 7–3 at halftime in its season ender at Detroit, and a loss would have forced a playoff for the Western Division, but Clarke Hinkle's touchdown in the final quarter gave the Packers a 12–7 win and the division title.

Final standings[edit]

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 9 1 1 .900 168 85
Washington Redskins 8 2 1 .800 242 94
Brooklyn Dodgers 4 6 1 .400 108 219
Philadelphia Eagles 1 9 1 .100 105 200
Pittsburgh Pirates 1 9 1 .100 114 216
Western Division
Green Bay Packers 9 2 0 .818 233 153
Chicago Bears 8 3 0 .727 298 157
Detroit Lions 6 5 0 .545 145 150
Cleveland Rams 5 5 1 .500 195 164
Chicago Cardinals 1 10 0 .091 84 254

NFL Championship Game[edit]

Green Bay 27, N.Y. Giants 0, at State Fair Park, West Allis, Wisconsin, December 10, 1939


Joe F. Carr Trophy (Most Valuable Player)   Parker Hall, Halfback, Cleveland

League leaders[edit]

Statistic Name Team Yards
Passing Davey O'Brien Philadelphia 1324
Rushing Bill Osmanski Chicago Bears 699
Receiving Don Hutson Green Bay 846


The 1939 NFL Draft was held on December 9, 1938 at New York City's New Yorker Hotel. With the first pick, the Chicago Cardinals selected center Ki Aldrich from Texas Christian University.

Coaching changes[edit]


  • 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)