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I: Sept. 17, 1920
II: Nov. 7, 1920
III: Nov. 28, 1920
IV: Oct. 7, 1923
V: Nov. 26, 1925
VI: Dec. 6, 1925
VII: Nov. 6, 1929
VIII: Nov. 28, 1929
IX: Oct. 24, 1933
X: Nov. 28, 1935
XI: Oct. 14, 1945
XII: Apr. 19, 1947
XIII: Dec. 28, 1947
XIV: Dec. 19, 1948
XV: Mar. 23, 1959
XVI: Mar. 13, 1960
XVII: Dec. 6, 1964
XVIII: Nov. 7, 1965
XIX: Nov. 16, 1970
XX: Dec. 27, 1975
XXI: Jan. 8, 1983
XXII: Dec. 16, 1984
XXIII: Nov. 8, 1987
XXIV: Mar. 15, 1988
XXV: Dec. 23, 1990
XXVI: Dec. 24, 1994

December 6, 1925: Championship Glory?

- - - - - In the NFL's seventy-seven seasons, there was never more difficulty in determining the champion than in 1925. The main reason for this was the fact that no championship game was held during this time; the team with the best winning percentage was declared the league's champion from 1920 to 1932. Also complicating the matter was the lack of an official schedule. Teams simply added games as the season went on, and rarely played an equal amount of games. To bring some order to this madness, NFL rule-makers decided to select dates between which the season would run; all games played before were pre-season exhibitions while those played after the deadline were post-season exhibitions, none of which would count towards a team's winning percentage. But, as we shall see, these guidelines would not be sufficient, at least not in 1925.
- - - - - With about two weeks remaining before the season-ending deadline, the Chicago Cardinals held the league's best record at 9-1-1. The Pottsville Maroons were not far behind with nine wins and two losses. They were scheduled to meet on December 6, 1925, at Chicago, in a game that was supposed to decide the NFL Champion.
- - - - - In a fashion typical of the Cards of today, Chicago failed miserably in the big game. The Maroons handily defeated the Redbirds by a score of 21-7. All of Pottsville celebrated as the town was decorated with bunting and the players were awarded medals. Their 10-2 record was now better than the Cards' 9-2-1. However, Cardinal owner Chris O'Brien sought to take advantage of league rules and hastily scheduled two games against the NFL's weakest clubs, both of which had already disbanded for the season but agreed to reform their squads for one more payday. On December 10, the Big-Red blasted the 0-6 Badgers of Milwaukee by a score of 59-0 in a farce of a football game. Quarters were only 5:00 in length and the Milwaukee line-up featured four high school players (the Badgers would later be forced to leave the NFL for this violation). Then , two days later, the Cards defeated the 1-4 Hammond Pros, 13-0. Now, with an 11-2-1 record, the Cardinals had a better winning percentage than the Pottsville football club.
- - - - - Why, you may ask, did Pottsville not do the same as the Cardinals? Whether or not they had such intentions is not known, but an exhibition game played a week after defeating the Cards prevented them from adding more league games. While Chicago was beating up on Hammond on Saturday the 12th, the Maroons scheduled an exhibition battle in Philadelphia versus the Notre Dame All-Stars, featuring the legendary "Four Horsemen" and "Seven Mules." The Yellow Jackets of Frankford (a suburb of Philadelphia) protested to the league that their territorial rights were being violated. NFL president Joe Carr warned Pottsville to cancel the game, but the Maroons argued that the league had given them prior verbal approval and went ahead with the game. They would win 9-7, but the repercussions were costly. Carr suspended the team and froze their record at 10-2. Thus, the Pottsville team was forced to cancel its game the following day against the Providence Steam Roller, and when the season's deadline finally arrived on December 20, the Cards had the better record and were declared NFL Champions of 1925. Inexplicably, owner O'Brien refused the trophy at a February meeting, but the Chicago Cardinals are still listed as 1925's champion. This has led many to believe that O'Brien's intention was not to win the NFL title, but to make his team look attractive enough to be included in Red Grange's post-season barn-storming tour.
- - - - - Although Pottsville would fold their organization several years later (after the 1928 season), their fight against the NFL and the Cardinals still continues. Every year, the city of Pottsville protests at an NFL meeting, hoping to regain the lost championship. However, their petition is always turned down. Once, the town even offered their legendary kicker's shoe to the Hall of Fame in exchange for the 1925 title, and even though the NFL would like to own the shoe, the request was refused. Yet, despite the unfortunate turn of events for the Maroons and the questionable means by which Chicago fattened their record, it is important to remember that the 1925 Cardinals played by the NFL's rules and earned the season's title. In fact, as soon as Pottsville was suspended by the league, they became ineligible to win the title. It is at this time that I would like to honor the 1925 Championship team, listing the members below.


OWNER: Chris O'Brien; HEAD COACH: Norm Barry; REGULARS: Eddie Anderson - End, Herb Blumer - End / Tackle, Fred Gillies - Tackle, Earl "Buck" Evans - Tackle, Willis Brennan - Guard, Gerry Lunz - Guard, Ralph Claypool - Center, "Red" Dunn - Blocking Back, John "Paddy" Driscoll - Tailback, Hal Erickson - Wingback / Fullback, Bob Koehler - Fullback; SUBSTITUTES: Lenny Sachs - End, Arnie (Nick) McInerney - End / Lineman, Bub Weller - Lineman, Wilfred Smith - Lineman, Ike Mahoney - Back, Jim Tays - Back, John Hurlburt - Back, Fred DeStefano - Back, Paul McNulty - End, Evar Swanson - End, Art Folz - Back, Mickey McDonnell - Back, Morris Blumenthal - Back.

NEXT : November 6, 1929 - The Cardinals once again play a part in NFL history when the regularly scheduled game against the Providence Steam Roller is postponed. The game is instead played on Wednesday night, beneath the floodlights of Rhode Island's Kinsley Park, the first of its kind in the NFL.

1996-2001, by "The Cardinal"
(This page is not affiliated with the NFL or the Arizona Cardinals)