What the Rose Bowl is to college football the annual playoff between the leaders of the Eastern and Western Divisions of the National Football League is to the professional game. In Chicago last week, in a tussle that had no influence on the final standing, the Chicago Bears nosed out the Detroit Lions, 10-to-7. for their 13th successive victory. In Philadelphia the New York Giants, who had qualified for the play-off three days earlier, concluded their schedule by losing to the Philadelphia Eagles, 6-to-0. When the Giants and the Bears meet in Manhattan's Polo Grounds this week they will really be playing for what sportswriters often, erroneously call a myth: the football championship of the U. S.
Teams. Of the ten clubs in the National League, two are new. Detroit bought the franchise of the Portsmouth (Ohio) Spartans, and St. Louis replaced Cincinnati. With franchises valued from $10,000 to $100,000, most of the clubs have this season made 20% more money than last year.
Oldest team in the League are the Green Bay Packers, who won the championship in 1929, 1930, 1931. Sponsored by the Blair Brothers (packers) in 1918 and owned by 1,000 Green Bay citizens, the Packers have attracted crowds as big as 16,000 to Green Bay, Wis. (pop. 34,900). Most of the Packers' regulars live in Green Bay, hold municipal jobs in addition to positions on the team.
Favorites to win the championship, the undefeated Chicago Bears, defending champions, have this season made a scoring record: 286 points to their opponent's 86 in 13 games. The Giants, second only to the Green Bay Packers as a forward-passing team, have won eight games, lost five. In earlier games this season the Chicago Bears have beaten the Giants twice, 27-to-7 in Chicago, 10-to-9 in New York, with a field goal in the last 50 seconds.
Players. Professional football players' salaries scale down from $10,000 per season to an average of about $1,500. A few famed college players have, as professionals, justified their amateur reputations. Illinois' Red Grange has been in the Chicago backfield for eight years. Minnesota's Bronko Nagurski has been the outstanding fullback of the League for the past five years. N. Y. U.'s Ken Strong is a Giant regular as is Michigan's Harry Newman. In his first season as a professional, Tennessee's Beattie Feathers has made an unprecedented record by gaining over 1,050 yd. for the Chicago Bears. Minnesota's Jack Manders, also a Bear, is a field goal expert who has only missed one point after touchdown in 31 tries this season. But the majority of able professionals, like Detroit's Earl ("Dutch") Clark, who has scored 73 points this season, Philadelphia's Swede Hanson and Detroit's Glenn Presnell, were unknown nationally until they took to the gridiron for money.
Rules. Less colorful than college football and lacking cheering sections, mascots and goalpost scuffles, the professional game is faster, rougher, technically more spectacular. Forward passing is permitted anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. Goal posts are on the goalline. A League regulation holds each team down to 22 players.