1934 NFL Championship Game
The 1934 National Football League Championship Game, also known as the Sneakers Game, was the second scheduled National Football League (NFL) championship game. Played at the Polo Grounds in New York City on December 9, it was the first title game for the newly created Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy. With a remarkable fourth quarter, the New York Giants defeated the Chicago Bears 30–13.
|Date||December 9, 1934|
|Stadium||Polo Grounds, New York City|
The defending champion Bears entered the game undefeated at 13–0, with an 18-game winning streak. The Giants (8–5) won consecutive division titles, but had lost their final regular season game at Philadelphia. The Bears were favored to repeat as champions.
A freezing rain the night before the game froze the Polo Grounds field. After Giants end Ray Flaherty remarked to head coach Steve Owen that sneakers would provide better footing on the frozen playing surface, Owen sent his friend Abe Cohen, a tailor who assisted on the Giants sideline, to Manhattan College to get some sneakers. There, Brother Jasper, the athletic director (and the later namesake of the Manhattan Jaspers) emptied the lockers of the school's basketball team. Cohen arrived in the third quarter with nine pairs of basketball sneakers from the college.
The Bears led 10–3 at the half when the Giants switched to the basketball sneakers. A Chicago field goal was the only score in the third quarter, extending the lead to ten points. Early in the fourth, Giants quarterback Ed Danowski threw a touchdown pass to Ike Frankian to close the score to 13–10. (The pass was initially intercepted at the Bears' 2-yard line, but Frankian then grabbed the ball out of the defender's hands.) On the next New York drive, running back Ken Strong scored on a 42-yard touchdown run. Later an 11-yard run by Strong was turned into another touchdown for the Giants, and they scored for a final time on Danowski's 9-yard run, a fourth unanswered touchdown. New York outscored the Bears 27–0 in the fourth quarter to win 30–13.
Many of the participants have been interviewed since the game took place, most notably Bronko Nagurski of the Bears and Mel Hein of the Giants. Generally, players from both sides have attributed the Giants' second-half dominance to their selection of footwear. As Nagurski put it later, "We immediately said something was wrong because they suddenly had good footing and we didn't...they just out-smarted us." A mini-documentary of the game, narrated by Pat Summerall, can be seen in the 1987 video "Giants Among Men." NFL Films named the game the #8 bad weather game of all time, and in 2019, it was named the #62 greatest game in NFL history.
- First quarter
- NYG – FG Ken Strong 38, 3–0 NYG
- Second quarter
- Third quarter
- CHI – FG Manders 22, 13–3 CHI
- Fourth quarter
- Referee: Bobby Cahn
- Umpire: George Lowe
- Head Linesman: George Vergara
- Field Judge: M.J. Meyer 
The projected attendance of 55,000 was not reached, as the week's weather kept it under 36,000. Each player on the winning Giants team received $621 (equivalent to $12,000 in 2020), while the Bears received $414 (equivalent to $8,000 in 2020) each.
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- Canavan, Tom (January 5, 1986). "Sneakers game is most famous episode in Bears-Giants rivalry". Gainesville Sun. Florida. Associated Press. p. 4F.
- Smith, Wilfrid (December 9, 1934). "Bears battle Giants today before 50,000". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, part 2.
- Smith, Wilfrid (December 10, 1934). "Giants whip Bears for pro title, 30-13". Chicago Tribune. p. 23.
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- Pervin, 2009, pp. 9–10.
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- Cavanaugh, 2008 pg. 111
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- Neil, Edward J. (December 10, 1934). "Giants rally and upset Bears". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. p. 13.
- Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
- The Sporting News Complete Super Bowl Book 1995 (ISBN 0-89204-523-X)
- Strange But True Football Stories (ISBN 0-394-80198-9)
- Cavanaugh, Jack (2008), Giants Among Men. New York:Random House. ISBN 978-1-58836-697-9
- Pervin, Lawrence A. (2009). Football's New York Giants. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-4268-3