Play in the Polar Vortex? Are you High?

It looks like a there is a very good chance that the weather is going to be extremely bad in New Jersey for Super Bowl Sunday. Is there any chance of moving the game to Madison Square Garden? There is precedent.

At the end of the 1932 Season the Chicago Bears and the Portsmouth Spartans  (now known as the Detroit Lions) ended the season tied. The Bears record was 6-1-6, and the Spartans were 6-1-4, both being counted as having .857 winning percentages. The normal tie-breaker rule for this situation at the time would be to give the title to the victor of any regular season match up between the teams. If the teams split a regular season series, the team to win the later game would get the championship. During the 1932 season the Bears and the Spartans played each other twice, but both games ended in ties, so the league decided to have a first ever play-off game to determine who would be awarded the championship. (Quick note- at the time, ties were not counted toward a teams win/loss percentage. If ties were counted as they are today, as half a win and half a loss, Green Bay with a 10-3 record and .769 winning percentage would have beaten out the Spartan's .727 and Bears .692  percentages and  would have been considered the champion.) 

The game was scheduled to be played at the Bears home, Wrigley Field, for Dec. 8, 1932, but because of blizzard conditions all that week and weather forecasts for the day of the game predicting temperatures of around 0 degrees and wind chills well below that, George Halas was able to convince NFL officials to move the game indoors, to be played at the Chicago Stadium. 

Because of the venue, the game was played on a field 60 yards long by 40 yards wide instead of the 100 x 53 1/3 regulation field. This lead to a few particular ground rules for the game. Kickoffs would be from the 10 yard line, there would be no field goals allowed, and the hash marks would be moved ten yards from the sidelines, with the ball placed on or inside the hash marks on all plays. The goalposts were  moved from the end line to the goal line, where they would stay until 1974.

The stadium had a good deal of dirt already in place, because the circus had been in town the week prior. Of course, the circus included horses and elephants, so there were definitely parts of the field you did not want to get tackled on.

The Bears ended up beating Portsmouth by a final score of 9-0. The Bears scored a touchdown on a controversial pass from Bronco Nagurski to Red Grange in the 4th quarter. The Spartans claimed that after receiving the hand-off from the quarterback, Grange did not drop back to 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage before throwing the ball, as was required by the rules at the time. The Bears added a safety later in the fourth quarter to ice the victory. Since the game counted in the official regular season standings, the loss actually dropped the Spartans to third place.

Besides placing the ball at or inside the hashmarks for each play and the changed location for the goalposts, the NFL also changed the rule about the forward pass, making them acceptable from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. The biggest change, however, was that the league really liked the idea of a playoff to determine a champion. In the February league meetings, they split the league into Eastern and Western divisions, with the winner of each to play in a Championship game each year.

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