1931 NFL season

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1931 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 13 – December 13, 1931
ChampionsGreen Bay Packers

The 1931 NFL season was the 12th regular season of the National Football League. The league decreased to 10 teams due to financial hardships caused by the Great Depression. While the Cleveland Indians joined as an expansion team, the league lost the Minneapolis Red Jackets and the Newark Tornadoes. Even the Frankford Yellow Jackets had to fold midway through the season.

Meanwhile, the Green Bay Packers were named the NFL champions for the third consecutive time after they finished the season with the best record.

Teams and head coaches[edit]

The league decreased to 10 teams.

First season in NFL * Last active season ^
Team Head coach(es)
Brooklyn Dodgers Jack Depler
Chicago Bears Ralph Jones
Chicago Cardinals Roy Andrews (1 game) and Ernie Nevers (8 games)
Cleveland Indians *^ Al Cornsweet and Hoge Workman
Frankford Yellow Jackets ^ Bull Behman
Green Bay Packers Curly Lambeau
New York Giants Steve Owen
Portsmouth Spartans George Clark
Providence Steam Roller ^ Eddie N. Robinson
Staten Island Stapletons Hinkey Haines (4 games) and Marty Brill (7 games)

Championship race[edit]

The two best teams in 1931, the Green Bay Packers and the Portsmouth Spartans, did not face each other that season. The Spartans would later become the Detroit Lions, and face the Packers regularly, but not in their 14 games in '31. Green Bay and Portsmouth were both unbeaten at 7–0–0 after seven weeks of play. In Week Eight, however, the Spartans played two games on the weekend of October 31. After defeating Frankford 14–0, Portsmouth travelled to New York's Polo Grounds to face the Giants. A crowd of 32,500 watched the Spartans lose, 14–0.[1] In Chicago, the Packers beat the Bears, 6–2. The next week, Portsmouth lost again. When the Packers were finally beaten in Week Ten, losing 21–13 to the Cardinals and falling to 9–1–0, Portsmouth was at 10–2–0. In Week Eleven, Portsmouth had a "must win" game against the Cardinals, and was trailing 13–7 at halftime. Dutch Clark scored a touchdown, but Glenn Presnell's conversion attempt failed, leaving the score at 13–13. After the Cards went up 20–13, even a tying score would have left the Spartans in second place, but Portsmouth lost 20–19.[2] The same day, Green Bay won at New York, 14–10, and also won on Thanksgiving (38–7 at Providence). On November 29, Green Bay registered its 12th win, 7–0 at Brooklyn, to clinch the title, meaning a 7–6 loss to the Bears the next week was immaterial.


NFL standings
Green Bay Packers 12 2 0 .857 291 87 L1
Portsmouth Spartans 11 3 0 .786 175 77 W1
Chicago Bears 8 5 0 .615 145 92 L1
Chicago Cardinals 5 4 0 .556 120 128 W1
New York Giants 7 6 1 .538 154 100 W2
Providence Steam Roller 4 4 3 .500 78 127 T1
Staten Island Stapletons 4 6 1 .400 79 118 W2
Cleveland Indians 2 8 0 .200 45 137 L5
Brooklyn Dodgers 2 12 0 .143 64 199 L8
Frankford Yellow Jackets 1 6 1 .143 13 99 L2

Note: Tie games were not officially counted in the standings until 1972.


  1. ^ "Benny Friedman Defeats Spartans 14 To 0," Portsmouth (O.) Times, Nov 2, 1931, p10
  2. ^ "Green Bay Increases Lead On First Place," Portsmouth (O.) Times), Nov 23, 1931, p10
  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 1931–1940 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)