Development of NFL team

In league meetings prior to the 1933 season, three new teams, the Pirates, the Cincinnati Reds and the Eagles, were admitted to the NFL. Then teams were then in the NFL and, at George Preston Marshall’s urging, with Halas’ support, NFL was reorganized into an Eastern Division and a Western Division. In the Eastern Division were the Philadelphia Eagles, Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, Boston Redskins, and the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the Western Division were the Chicago Bears, Portsmouth Spartans, Chicago Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, and the Cincinnati Reds. Furthermore, the two owners convinced the league to have the two division winners meet in a NFL Championship Game.

By 1934, all of the small-town teams, with the exception of the Green Bay Packers, had moved to or been replaced by teams in big cities, and even Green Bay had begun to play a portion of its home schedule in much larger Milwaukee for more support (a practice they continued well into the 1990s). In 1941, the corporate headquarters moved from Columbus, Ohio to Chicago. During the early years of the league, rather than coming up with original team names, many NFL teams simply chose the name of the Major League Baseball team in the same city. Thus the Pittsburgh Steelers were the “Pittsburgh Pirates” for the first seven years of existence and other teams such as the Brooklyn Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, Washington Senators and Buffalo Bisons all represented the NFL at one time or another.

An annual draft of college players was first held in 1936. The first televised NFL game was on October 22, 1939 in a game the Eagles lost 23-14 to the host Dodgers at Ebbets Field. It was during this era, however, that the NFL became segregated: there were no black players in professional football in the United States between 1933 and 1945, mainly due to the influence of George Preston Marshall, who entered the league in 1932 as the owner of the Boston Braves. Other NFL owners emulated Marshall’s whites-only policy to mollify southern fans, and even after the NFL’s color barrier had been broken in the 1950s, Marshall’s Washington Redskins remained all-white until forced to integrate by the Kennedy administration in 1962.  Despite his bigotry, Marshall was selected as a charter member of the NFL-inspired Pro Football Hall of Fame, primarily for the numerous innovations (fixed schedules, separate conferences and championship games) Marshall encouraged during his time in the league.