10 MILLION FANS TURN OUT FOR PRO GRID LEAGUE TILTS IN '45
JAN 2 (Green Bay) - NFL attendance approached the two million mark last fall as league teams, for the 15th consecutive season, broke all records with a total turnout of 1,918,631 for 68 contests. Attendance at the 50 regularly scheduled championship games was up 19.8 percent over 1944, attracting a record crowd of 1,442,737 against 1,204,817 a year ago. The championship playoff and 17 preseason games drew another 475,894. Better balance in the league, resulting principally from the rise of the Cleveland Rams, Detroit Lions and Boston Yanks, spurred business throughout the circuit, lifting to 28,855 spectators, another new high, the average attendance for the 50 regular season contests. The average for all games was 28,636, also a new high...GREEN BAY LEADS: Green Bay, the 1944 champion, led all teams in total attendance, setting a new record for one club by playing to 521,426 spectators, or an average of 37,245 in 14 games. The previous high for one club was 507,067 in 20 games, set by the Chicago Bears in 1941, the only other time in league history when a club played to half a million spectators in one season. The New York Giants were first in home attendance with a total of 282,382, an average of 47,063 per games, for six appearance in the Polo grounds. Washington was second with 209,490, also in six games, and might have surpasses the Giants if it had room for any more. All six Redskin games were sellouts. Top road honors went to the champion Rams, who drew 196,050 in six games. But Green Bay, perennially a prime road attraction, remained one of the game's better draws by averaging 36,829 per game away from home, against 32,675 for the Rams. Green Bay participated in the two largest gates of the year, playing before 92,753 in the Chicago Tribune Charities, Inc's. All-Star game and showing to another 90,218 with the Philadelphia Eagles in a charity game in Philadelphia two weeks later. The largest crowd of the regular season, 55,641, gathered in New York on Oct. 28 to see the Redskins beat the Giants, 24 to 14. Weather conditions hardly could be called an ally of the record breaking. Twenty-five of the 50 regular schedule games were played in inclement weather. The elements, however, got in their work licks at the championship playoff in Cleveland two weeks ago, when despite temperatures of 3 below zero and a gale blowing through the Cleveland stadium, more than 30,000 turned out to see the Rams whip the Redskins.
ALL-AMERICA LEAGUE TO START WITH 8 CLUBS
JAN 5 (Chicago) - Major league professional football may be heading up the same trail major league baseball followed at the turn of the century. Right now, the All-America conference, an embryonic organization conceived during the war and dedicated to fielding teams next autumn in eight cities scattered from coast to coast, is challenging the 25-year old NFL for an even status as a major pro grid circuit. Back in 1900 the American league was born on the baseball diamond when Charles A. Comiskey moved his American association franchise from St. Paul, Minn., to Chicago. The National league battled against such intrusion into major league ranks. But the American league was established, and from its birth came the greatest sports extravaganza in America - the World Series. The All-America conference without established background such as the American association had when Comiskey inaugurated the American league, is ready to make the same move. At their meeting yesterday, members of the new league accepted Baltimore's offer to delay its participation to 1947, cutting the number of clubs to eight. Applications by two New Orleans groups and one from Kansas City were tabled until 1947. It was decided to play home-and-home schedules, with each team competing in 14 games during the season. The charter members are New York, Brooklyn, Chicago, Los Angeles, Buffalo, Miami, San Francisco and Cleveland. Drawing of a constitution and bylaws, determination of the rules the league will follow and completion of a schedule for 1946 are the tasks that remain. It is estimated that the National league's refusal to meet with delegates of the All-America to reach a friendly understanding on operational tactics already has cost the 25 year old organization $300,000. There is a growing sentiment within the National league, some All-America club owners declared, that the rebuff last year was a tragic mistake and that another effort should be made for a peace meeting between the two. It was emphasized that any overtures must come from the National league, inasmuch as it declined the original invitation; it was intimated that such a gesture by the National league would be accepted by the All-America. The eight team setup was determined upon shortly after announcement of the conference's organization was made in September 1944. But the All-America quickly made room for Dan Topping late in 1945 when he was unable to make a satisfactory deal with the National league to move his Brooklyn team to Yankee stadium. This made it necessary to add another team, or drop one, at least in the 1946 plans. George Halas, owner of the Chicago Bears of the National league, meanwhile, gave a new turn to the battle over All-America's "raiding" of the older circuit's players. Hinkle said he had urged his star tackle, 225-pound Lee Artoe, to sign with the Los Angeles club of the new league, if he thought he could better himself. Later Edward P. (Slip) Madigan, Los Angeles general manager, announced Artoe had signed a contract to play for him next fall.
ALL-AMERICA GRID PLANS COMPLETED AT CONFERENCE
JAN 7 (Chicago) - For the first time in its history, the quarter century old NFL will have competition this fall. That became a certainty Sunday as the All-America conference concluded a three day meeting of owners and coaches at which all details for its debut were ironed out except for the schedule. The schedule will be drawn by Commissioner James (Sleepy Jim) Crowley and submitted for approval at a schedule meeting in April. The league will operate in two sections, an eastern composed of New York, Brooklyn, Buffalo and Miami, and a western composed of Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Each team, traveling by air, will play a 14 game, home and home schedule to start the week of September 1-8 and end December 8. A majority of the games will be played Wednesday and Friday nights. The playoff game between the two division winners will be held December 15. Dan Topping of New York, who bolted the National league to join the All-America and give the new league the use of Yankee stadium, emerged from the meeting as the AAC's most powerful figure. Topping claimed all the players on the reserve list of his now defunct National league Brooklyn team and said, "There is nothing the National league can do about it." Layden, acting under the National league constitution, had ruled the players reverted to the league following Topping's bolt. Layden since awarded the players to the National league's Boston club. The owners also held a secret draft at which each club selected 20 players. "Their names will not be announced," Crowley said. "The National league always has publicized its draft lists, often embarrassing the players. We hope to stop that."
NATIONAL GRID LOOP WILL OPEN IMPORTANT MEETING THURSDAY
JAN 7 (Chicago) - The NFL, finally recognizing the upstart All-American football conference as a dangerous challenger, opens one of the most important meetings in its 26-year history this week in New York. The old-time National leaguers, who lifted pro football from sandlot gridirons to the nation's biggest stadia, have dozens of problems to whip at the New York meeting, but No. 1 is the rehiring or firing of Elmer Layden as commissioner. Layden's initial five-yard contract expires March 1. Selected in 1941 when he was athletic director and head coach at Notre Dame, Layden has ruled the league during its most prosperous seasons. There was strong opposition to him a year ago, but that has died out and the general consensus predicts that Layden's contract will be readily renewed as the NFL buckles down to fight the All-America...AGENDA IS ANNOUNCED: NFL headquarters, preparing for the opening meeting Thursday, released the following agenda: (1) Layden's contract, (2) 1946 schedule, (3) rules revision, (4) player draft and (5) consideration of the new opposition league and its "questionable interest in operation for the best interest of pro football." Point No. 5 packs the fireworks. During its three-day meeting here, which ended Sunday, the All-America showed the National league that regardless of pro-and-con statements, it plans to operate as a major league next fall. "The National league is prepared to fight for what it has built," league Publicitor George Strickler said. "George Halas of Chicago, Tim Mara of New York, Curly Lambeau of Green Bay and others made pro football and the National league is not going to give it way to a rival. In 15 or 20 years, there will be another major league, but the time is not yet ripe. Two leagues cannot survive,' Strickler said...EIGHT TEAM LEAGUE: A recap of the All-America's meetings reveal it will begin play next fall with an eight-team league, divided into an East (New York, Brooklyn, Buffalo and Miami) and a West division (Cleveland, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco). Each team, traveling by air, will play a 14-game, home-and-home schedule to start the week of Sept. 1-8 and end Dec. 8. A majority of the games will be played Wednesday and Friday nights. The All-America playoff game between the two divisional winners will be held Dec. 15. Dan Topping, who bolted the NFL to join the AAC and give the league the use of Yankee stadium, is the AAC's most powerful single figure. Ignoring the action of Layden, Topping claimed the 200 players on the reserve list of his now defunct NFL Brooklyn team and said, "There is nothing the National league can do about it." Layden, acting under the NFL constitution, has ruled the players reverted to the league following Topping's bolt. Layden since awarded the players to the National league's Boston club...PLAYERS FREE TO SIGN: Actually, the NFL's action would not hold up in a legal battle and the player are free for the signing. Topping took the top 15 from the reserve list, which he said are signed to personal service contracts, gave Los Angeles' undermanned team the next 22 and passed the remaining 163 to the other six All-America clubs. Among the better known players on the list are end Don Currivan, guard Tony Leon, tackle George Sergienko and end Enrico Uguccioni. The New York tinplate king, who received a "gift" of one player from each of the other clubs as part of the $75,000 deal, which lured him away from the NFL, also announced he had 35 players under contract for the '46 season...KINARDS ARE SIGNED: He named six of them, all 1945 Fleet City players, including tackle Frank (Bruiser) Kinard, six-year Brooklyn veteran and former All-National league choice, and his younger brother, George Kinard, ex-Mississippi star. The eight owners held a secret draft from a list of approximately 300 college and servicemen names. Each club selected 20 players. "Their names will not be announced," Commissioner James H. Crowley said. "The National league always has publicized its draft lists, often embarrassing the players. We hope to stop that."
JAN 7 (Green Bay) - Three members of the Green Bay Packers organization will attend the annual session of the NFL opening in New York Thursday. Green Bay will be represented at the meeting by Pres. L.H. Joannes of the football corporation, Coach Curly Lambeau and Line Coach Walt Kiesling. Among others attending will be Line Coach George Trafton of the Cleveland Rams, who left this morning for New York. Trafton resides in the city.