The Chicago Cardinals and Pottsville Maroons played at Old Comiskey
As you settle in to watch this year’s Super Bowl (5:30pm kickoff on Fox), compare the scene in Glendale, Arizona, to what author David Fleming describes as the unofficial first NFL championship game in his stirring tome Breaker Boys. “The NFL didn’t create a championship game until 1933,” Fleming says, but every newspaper in town hyped the December 6, 1925, game between the Chicago Cardinals and Pottsville (Pennsylvania) Maroons played at Old Comiskey as the title matchup. Previously, champions were “declared” at the end of the season by virtue of the teams’ winning percentages. Although Pottsville went on to defeat the Cardinals 21-7, the Maroons were forced to forfeit the crown after they played against (and bested) Notre Dame and its famed “Four Horsemen” in another team’s protected territory (something the NFL saw as a punishable offense). When the dust settled, Chicago was declared the champion after a nasty battle (which included the Cardinals scrambling to schedule more games to up its winning percentage). The Cardinals’ tarnished championship didn’t come without a price: Aside from another championship in 1947, the franchise logged just one more playoff win during its existence.