1963: The Sporting Year

50 years ago the sporting world seemed a purer, more honest place – or did it. Let’s take a look back at what was really going on in the sporting realm in ’63.

The 44th NFL

The 1963 NFL season was contentious before it began thanks to the shenanigans of a couple of players with a penchant for gambling. Green Bay Packers running back Paul Hornung and Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras had been discovered gambling on their own teams, as well as on other NFL games. On April 17, NFL director Paul Rozelle indefinitely suspended both players. They would both miss the entire 1963 season.

The season had barely gotten underway when the nation was plunged into tragedy. President Kennedy’s assassination on November created a dilemma for Rozelle – should games be postponed out of respect for the fallen chief executive or should the schedule continue as planned. After much consideration the decision was made that the November 22 schedule would go ahead. Here is what Rozelle had to say . . .

“It has been traditional in sports for athletes to perform in times of great personal tragedy. Football was Mr. Kennedy’s game. He thrived on competition.”

The attendances were not affected by the recent tragedy.

And so on to the season itself. Here are the team stats . . .

Week WESTERN EASTERN
1 3 teams (Chi, Det, Min) 1-0-0 3 teams (Cle, NYG, StL) 1-0-0
2 CHICAGO BEARS 2-0-0 Tie (Cle, StL) 2-0-0
3 CHICAGO BEARS 3-0-0 CLEVELAND BROWNS 3-0-0
4 CHICAGO BEARS 4-0-0 CLEVELAND BROWNS 4-0-0
5 CHICAGO BEARS 5-0-0 CLEVELAND BROWNS 5-0-0
6 Tie (Chi, GB) 5-1-0 CLEVELAND BROWNS 6-0-0
7 Tie (Chi, GB) 6-1-0 CLEVELAND BROWNS 6-1-0
8 Tie (Chi, GB) 7-1-0 CLEVELAND BROWNS 7-1-0
9 Tie (Chi, GB) 8-1-0 Tie (Cle, NYG) 7-2-0
10 CHICAGO BEARS 9-1-0 NEW YORK GIANTS 8-2-0
11 CHICAGO BEARS 9-1-1 Tie (Cle, NYG, StL) 8-3-0
12 CHICAGO BEARS 9-1-2 Tie (Cle, NYG) 9-3-0
13 CHICAGO BEARS 10-1-2 NEW YORK GIANTS 10-3-0
14 CHICAGO BEARS 11-1-2 NEW YORK GIANTS 11-3-0

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