Washington Redskins: 1942 NFL Champions

Sunday is our first game and the beginning of RGIII in D.C.

Let’s bring back some pride to the Washington Redskins. And we’d like to give a quick shout out to GoDCer, and giant Redskins, fan Drew at Meridian Pint. This one’s for you. Thanks for the friendly football conversation the other day.

The United States was a full year into World War II and desperately needed something to cheer for. The 1942 National Football League Championship game pitted the undefeated Chicago Bears (11-0) led by Sid Luckman against our hometown Redskins (10-1), led by Sammy Baugh. The game was to be played on December 13th, 1942 at Griffith Stadium.

The 73 to 0 shellacking — that’s putting it kindly — the Bears put on the Redskins in the 1940 NFL Championship game was still fresh on many Washingtonians’ minds. To make matters worse, that was in front of a hometown crowd at Griffith Stadium. What an insult. Hopefully this wouldn’t be a repeat, but unfortunately, the Bears were the bookies’ favorite at 3 to 1.

Sideline operatives camper as Bear goes out. Big Bill Osmanski, Chicago Bear Fullback, drove out of bounds on this play and sent a cameraman, lineman and the team's mascot scampering. Redskins, Sammy Baugh (No. 33) and Ed Justice (No. 13) was close behind Osmanski. Associated Press photo
Sideline operatives camper as Bear goes out. Big Bill Osmanski, Chicago Bear Fullback, drove out of bounds on this play and sent a cameraman, lineman and the team’s mascot scampering. Redskins, Sammy Baugh (No. 33) and Ed Justice (No. 13) was close behind Osmanski. Associated Press photo

Below is the Associated Press’ preview of the game.

Washington, Dec. 12–The Chicago Bears take on Washington’s Redskins in pro football’s World Series tomorrow, and there is a growing feeling around this village that they’re out to duplicate their last National League championship brawl with the Redmen.

That would be the 1940 game, and what happened to the Redskins that day should happen to the Axis. The Bears rang up a tight, little 73-0 score, and when the shooting was over, George P. Marshall’s beauties looked somewhat like a collection of shirts coming out of laundryman George’s wet-wash mixers.

The bookies locked the door on flat betting altogether. Up to today you could get 3 to 1 if you liked the Redskins’ Sammy Baugh & Co. to pull this rabbit out of the hat, but tonight the odds-layers turned thumbs down, because the price threatened to rise up out of sight. Instead, only score-betting was going on, and you had to give three touchdowns to make any kind of investment.

1942 NFL Championship program
1942 NFL Championship program

It sounds like most in the sports world were confident in a Bears victory … except the Washington faithful. The game didn’t go quite as planned for Chicago, with a Redskins victory and a score of 14 to 6. Hail to the Redskins!

In taming the Bears into plaintive, whining pussycats, the Redskins showed superiority in every department of football. It was chiefly the driving, rugged play of a magnificent line that established the Washington superiority in the contest. There was no element of luck as the Redskins earned a gratifying measure of revenge for the famous 73-to-0 humuliation before the home folks just two years ago. The only fluke score was that made by the Bears.

The arrogant perfectionists from Chicago were reduced to the low level of having to score on the other team’s attack through a recovered fumble and a run half the length of the gridiron.

The end of the Bears’ winning streak at 21 games was brought about by a team which deserved the honor. Masterson, Baugh, Todd, Farkas, Slivinski, Wilkin–and all the rest played at their peak and their coaching staff had provided all the information needed on the rival maneuvers.

The band played Auld Lang Syne at the finish, and if this game does mark the Pro’s adjournment, they left the fans with something to remember.

Two other things that were significant about that game … due to World War II depleting many team rosters, there was a fair bit of talk about suspending the league until the war’s end. Of course, that didn’t happen as the 1943 season went on, but with a few teams suspending their participation. This was also the last championship game played where helmets were not required. The following year the league mandated that all players wear helmets.

Sammy Baugh preparing to throw in the game against the Bears
Sammy Baugh preparing to throw in the game against the Bears

Are you ready for some football?

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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