1925 Chicago Cardinals NFL Championship

In the early days of the National Football League there was an odd way of naming a champion. At the end of the season, all the owners would get together and vote on who performed the best; whichever team garnered the most votes would get the trophy. In 1925 the league deviated from that model, and a championship game pitted the Midwest champs, the Chicago Cardinals, against the East champs, the Pottsville Maroons.

On Sunday December 6, the Maroons and the Cardinals met on the frozen tundra of Comiskey Park.  Going into halftime, the Maroons had a 14-7 lead. Just when it looked as if the Cardinals would tie the game, the Maroons executed their second goal line stand and forced a turnover on downs. After a critical Cardinals turnover set up the Maroons for an easy touchdown, the game seemed out of reach.

After many long failed passes from the Cardinals, the gun sounded and the score was final. Maroons 21, Cardinals 7.  However, the fat lady had yet to sing.

One week following the "championship game" against the Cardinals, the Maroons played the Notre Dame Fighting Irish All-Stars.  The dreamy match-up of a professional team vs. a collegiate team wasn't perceived as such by the league. The game ended up being played in Philadelphia, which the NFL deemed a territorial rights violation. The NFL forced the Maroons to vacate the victory and awarded the championship to the Cardinals.  Needless to say, the Maroons are still bitter.

Do you think the Maroons should have been awarded the championship?  There's much more to this story.  Take a look at Breaker Boys by David Fleming and When Football Was Football by Joe Ziemba for detailed descriptions of the controversial championship.