1938 NFL season

The 1938 NFL season was the 19th regular season of the National Football League. The season ended when the New York Giants defeated the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Championship Game.

1938 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 9 – December 11, 1938
East ChampionsNew York Giants
West ChampionsGreen Bay Packers
Championship Game
ChampionsNew York Giants


The 1938 NFL Draft was held on December 12, 1937 at Chicago's Hotel Sherman. With the first pick, the Cleveland Rams selected fullback Corbett Davis from Indiana University Bloomington.

Major rule changesEdit

  • A new 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer is enacted.
  • If a kickoff goes out of bounds, the receiving team may opt to take possession of the ball at their own 45-yard line.
  • The penalty for a second forward pass during a play is changed from 5 yards and a loss of down to just 5 yards.[1]

Division racesEdit

In Week Seven, the Bears lost at home to the Rams, 23–21, while the Packers beat the Pirates (the future Steelers) 20–0, giving Green Bay the lead for the first time. The Packers won their next three games to clinch the Western Division.

In the Eastern Division, the Redskins led until Week Ten, when they fell to the Bears, 31–7; the Giants' 28–0 win over the Rams gave New York the division lead on November 13. The division title still came down to the last day of the regular season, December 4, when 57,461 turned out at the Polo Grounds in New York to watch the 7–2–1 Giants host the 6–2–2 Redskins. A Washington win would have made them 7–2–2 and New York 7–3–1, with the Skins as division champs. New York needed only to win or tie, and did the former, five touchdowns en route to a 36–0 victory.

Four neutral-site games were held: two at Civic Stadium in Buffalo, New York, one in Erie, Pennsylvania, and one in Charleston, West Virginia. The Buffalo games marked the league's first return to Buffalo since the folding of the Bisons in 1929.

Final standingsEdit

NFL Eastern Division
New York Giants 8 2 1 .800 5–2–1 194 79 W1
Washington Redskins 6 3 2 .667 4–2–2 148 154 L1
Brooklyn Dodgers 4 4 3 .500 3–2–3 131 161 T1
Philadelphia Eagles 5 6 0 .455 3–5 154 164 W2
Pittsburgh Pirates 2 9 0 .182 2–6 79 169 L6

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.

NFL Western Division
Green Bay Packers 8 3 0 .727 6–2 223 118 L1
Detroit Lions 7 4 0 .636 6–2 119 108 L1
Chicago Bears 6 5 0 .545 3–5 194 148 L1
Cleveland Rams 4 7 0 .364 3–5 131 215 W1
Chicago Cardinals 2 9 0 .182 2–6 111 168 W1

NFL Championship GameEdit

The New York Giants defeated the Green Bay Packers by a score of 23–17 at the Polo Grounds in New York City on December 11, 1938, to become the champion.

All-Star gameEdit

After being crowned champion the Giants faced a team of "Pro All-Stars", an all-star team consisting mostly of NFL players but also including three players from the Los Angeles Bulldogs, in an exhibition game at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles on January 15, 1939. The game, which the Giants won 13–10, was the first of five annual NFL all-star games held under the format (but the only one to include non-NFL players) prior to the creation of the Pro Bowl in 1951.[2]

League leadersEdit

Statistic Name Team Yards
Passing Ace Parker Brooklyn 865
Rushing Whizzer White Pittsburgh 567
Receiving Don Hutson Green Bay 548


Joe F. Carr Trophy (Most Valuable Player)   Mel Hein, Center, N.Y. Giants

Coaching changesEdit

Stadium changesEdit


  1. ^ "NFL Championship Games – 1938: Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants". goldenrankings.com. Retrieved August 7, 2013.
  2. ^ Crawford, Fred R. (1990). "The First Pro Bowl Game" (PDF). The Coffin Corner. 12 (4). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 18, 2010. Retrieved January 31, 2012.