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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 Roller, Cleveland Indians and Frankford Yellow Jackets, league membership dropped to eight teams, the lowest in NFL history.

1932 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 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.
ChampionsChicago Bears

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 end zone, 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 raceEdit

Following the 1932 season, the NFL would be split into two divisions (later two conferences), with the champions of each meeting in a championship game.

This was the result of the end of the 1932 season, where there was a tie for first in the standings at the end of the regular season: as tied games did not count until 1972, the Spartans record of 6–1–4 and the Bears record of 6–1–6 were taken to be six wins, one loss, giving both an .857 win percentage.

In terms of pure win-loss differential, the Packers would have won their fourth consecutive title, as they had seven more wins than losses, compared to the +5 of the Spartans and Bears. Had the current (post-1972) system of counting ties as half a win, half a loss been in place in 1932, the Packers would have likewise won a fourth consecutive title at .750, with the Spartans runners-up at .727, and the Bears third at .692.

The Green Bay Packers were unbeaten (8–0–1) after nine games, and after the Thanksgiving weekend, their 10–1–1 record (.909) was still well ahead of Portsmouth at 5–1–4 (.833) and Chicago at 4–1–6 (.800).

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, and a Green Bay win would have the Packers finish second with 11–2–1 record (.846), and hand Portsmouth their first ever title. After the Bears beat the Packers 9–0, the Bears finished 6–1–6, and tied for first in the standings with Portsmouth.

Though it was described as a "playoff", the Bears 9–0 win over Portsmouth on December 18 counted in the regular season standings. As such, the Bears finished at 7–1–6 (.875) and won the 1932 title, with the Packers runners-up, and the Spartans, at 6–2–4 (.750), finished third.


NFL standings
Chicago Bears 1 7 1 6 .875 160 44 W3
Green Bay Packers 10 3 1 .769 152 63 L2
Portsmouth Spartans 1 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.
1 The Bears and Spartans records include the result of the 1932 NFL Playoff Game. Thus, the Spartans are ranked third with a lower winning percentage than the Packers.


Playoff Game
December 18, 1932 – Chicago Stadium
Chicago Bears9
Portsmouth Spartans0

League leadersEdit

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)