Editor's Note:We don't generally repost our FREE Primetime plays on the site - in fact, this is the first time we have ever done it - but this particular game capsule is dear to our heart. It doesn't have anything to do with how we fared, although we did hit the play. And it isn't typical of our scientific approach to sports 'capping, even though we often try to provide a fresh perspective. No, we have included this particular play in our Featured Articles section because we consider ourselves pro football historians, and this write-up is chock full of NFL history. And we include it because of the message, and how it relates to the future of pro football.
GRIDLINE's Primetime Plays
National Football League 2009 Season
Games of WEEK 14
Primetime Plays for Thursday, December 10th
CONTENT BELOW POSTED 16:30THU10DEC09 cst
N/A Computer Projection
HIT: Browns 13 Steelers 6
It is December 18th, 1932. The Chicago Bears are set to take on the Portsmouth Spartans in the NFL's first ever championship game. Although the game was originally set to be played at Wrigley field, a snowstorm has engulfed Chicago and, in a sparkling moment of clarity, the NFL has decided to move the game indoors to Chicago Stadium, the home of the NHL Black Hawks. It's a packed house. The two teams play on a field of sawdust and manure left behind by a circus. Because the field is only 80 yards long, each team takes a 20 yard penalty whenever they cross midfield. Because the stands are butted up against the sidelines, officials move the ball ten yards to the center of the field whenever it goes out of bounds. No field goals are allowed. Punts that rattle around in the rafters are automatically ruled touchbacks.
Despite the radical rule changes in effect, the first NFL Championship game turned out to be one of the greatest events in sports history. Ultimately, Bronco Nagurski tossed a controversial TD pass to Red Grange to seal the Bears 9-0 victory, but the major impact on the NFL was the grudging respect it earned from the sportswriters of the day and the key rules adopted by the NFL after the game.
Flash forward to December 10th, 2009. Those old reporters have been replaced by live broadcasts and the social media. We have instant replay, now. If we had it back then we could have checked to see if Nagurski actually was five yards behind the line of scrimmage when he threw that TD pass, as required by rule at the time. Thankfully, modern day quarterbacks can throw from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. It's been that way ever since the 1932 Championship game. And nowadays, all football fields have hashmarks, so those offensive Ends don't have to line up out of bounds anymore - not since the 1932 Championship. And the Portsmouth Spartans still play their home games indoors, as the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.
So what's with the history lesson? Well, it turns out that in spite of the foresight displayed by the NFL's founding fathers, the vast majority of modern day pro football teams still play football in ridiculous weather. In fact, the Cleveland Browns are scheduled to host the Pittsburgh Steelers tonight under conditions that may be more intolerable than they were that on that historic date nearly seventy-seven years ago. For all the progress we have made there are still NFL executives, city officials and millions of fans who think it's acceptable, even desirable, to play the game in extreme weather. We know who these people are. They value tradition; they call themselves purists. We can't change their minds in a day, or a decade, but we can point out that to a true purist, indoor football is in the finest tradition of the NFL, harkening back to the first championship game.
Now for our pick. Somewhere along the way the oddsmakers have seen fit to establish a Favorite in tonite's game. If the local weathercast is accurate, we don't see how either team can be favored. Weathermen are predicting sustained winds of 25 MPH with gusts up to 40 MPH. Mix in possible snow flurries and buildup and 19 degree temperatures and you get the picture. In any event, we have often said if the weather dominates then take the points, so that's what were going to do. Our hi-tech computer system is a non-factor for this football game - if it even resembles a football game - so we'll just pluck a score out of the cold, cold air. Let's call it 9-0, either way.