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November 9, 2017

NFL 1956 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: New York football Giants.

Filed under: NFL>1956 map/season,NFL/ Gridiron Football,Retro maps — admin @ 1:06 pm

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NFL 1956 season, map with helmets & final standings; champions: New York football Giants



By Bill Turianski on 9 November 2017; twitter.com/billsportsmaps.
Links…
-1956 NFL season
-1956 New York Giants season (en.wikipedia.org).
-1956 NFL season (pro-football-reference.com).
-1956 NFL Teams [illustrations of uniforms of the 12 NFL teams of 1956] (gridiron-uniforms.com)

The map… The map, done in the style of 1950s newspaper graphics, shows the primary helmets and primary jerseys worn by the 12 NFL teams of 1956. Final standings for the 1956 NFL season, along with team-colors worn that season, can be seen at the lower-right of the map. In the bottom-right-corner are 1956 NFL attendance figures by team. At the top-right of the map is a section devoted to the 1956 NFL champions, the New York Giants (also see next 9 paragraphs below). At the right-hand-center of the map page, are 1956 Offensive leaders in the following categories…QB Rating: Ed Brown, Bears. Passing Yards & TD passes: Tobin Rote, Packers. Rushing Yards & total TDs: Rick Casares, Bears. Total Yards from Scrimmage: Frank Gifford, Giants. Receiving Yards & TD receptions: Billy Howton, Packers.

The New York Giants demolished the Chicago Bears in the 1956 Championship Game, 47-7 (played at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 30, 1956). The Giants were coached by Jim Lee Howell (Howell is best known for, in 1954, giving both Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry their first NFL coaching jobs). In 1956, the Giants had a balanced team, with the league’s 3rd-best-Offense and the 4th-best-Defense. They were led by the then-34-year-old, and long-time-Giants-QB, Charley Conerly, and featured the 1956 NFL Most Valuable Player, halfback Frank Gifford. The Giants’ defense was spearheaded by a bruising front four that included DE Andy Robustelli (who had just been traded from the Rams). The ’56 Giants had a swift-and-hard-hitting linebacker corps that featured that season’s Rookie of the Year, Sam Huff, and a defensive backfield that included a veteran interception specialist, Emlen Tunnell. (Tunnell had been the first black player to play for the Giants, eight years previously, in 1948.)

In the 1956 final, the New York football Giants faced a team which had the NFL’s highest-scoring offense that year – the Chicago Bears. There was mixed-snow-&-freezing-rain falling before the game, and by game-time, the field was frozen solid. After checking the field conditions, coach Howell ordered the whole team to leave their cleats in the locker room and wear sneakers, for better traction on the frozen field. The Bears, repeating something that happened 22 years earlier [in the 1934 NFL title game in NYC, which they also lost], did not wear the sneakers they had brought. {See this article from the Chicago Tribune, Carved In Ice: Bears-Giants ‘Sneaker’ Title Game}.

So the Giants, in their Pro Keds sneakers, on that frozen field at Yankee Stadium, ran circles around the Bears. Charlie Conerly threw two TDs, including one to Frank Gifford. Gifford was the main offensive force, with 161 yards from scrimmage including a 67-yard pass play. Giants fullback Mel Triplett rushed for 71 yards and a TD. And fullback Alex Webster racked up 103 yards from scrimmage, and ran for 2 TDs. {You can see a photo of FB Alex Webster (in sneakers) on a big-gain pass-play in the 1956 title game, in the photo-section at the top-right of the map page.} The blowout was pretty much sealed late in the 2nd quarter, after Giants DT Rosey Grier had sacked the Bears’ QB Ed Brown for a 9-yard-loss on the one-yard-line, forcing the Bears to punt. The punt was blocked by Giants guard/lineman Ray Beck, and was recovered in the end zone for a TD by Giants rookie DB Henry Moore. That made it 34-7 for the Giants at halftime. And then the Giants scored 13 unanswered points in the 2nd half, to make it a 47-7 final score.

Video: 1956 Football Championship (27:50 video uploaded by Newton Minnow at youtube.com).

1956 was the first year the New York football Giants played in Yankee Stadium. (The New York football Giants, as a renter of the New York baseball Giants, had played at the Polo Grounds in upper Manhattan ever since the gridiron football team was formed, in 1925.) They left the decaying Polo Grounds and moved the mile east, across the Harlem River, to the South Bronx and Yankees Stadium. And with that move, the Giants’ attendance increased a whopping 26 thousand per game and more than doubled – from 21 K in the Polo Grounds in 1955, to 47 K at Yankee Stadium in 1956. (The New York football Giants would play 18 seasons at Yankee Stadium, before the 1973-76 Yankee Stadium renovation forced them to seek a temporary venue in New Haven, CT at the Yale Bowl [the Giants played in New Haven for the latter-part of the 1973 season and all of the the 1974 season], then the Giants played one season at the New York Jets’ venue [Shea Stadium in Queens, NY]. Then the Giants moved into Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ in 1976.)
http://billsportsmaps.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/new-york-football-giants_move-from-polo-grounds_to-yankee-stadium_1956_r_.gif
Photo credits above – Photo of the Polo Grounds in NFL configuration [photo circa 1955], photo unattributed at football.ballparks.com/NFL/NewYorkGiants. Shot of Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium [photo circa 1956], photo unattributed at bigblueinteractive.com/2015/05/30/the-1956-new-york-giants. Photo of New York Giants playing at Yankee Stadium [photo from 1960], photo by Neil Leifer at neilleifer.com/new-york-giants.

In the 1956 NFL season, the Giants had finished 8-3-1, which was a game-and-a-half better than the 2nd-place-Eastern-Conference-finisher, the Chicago Cardinals. Their win over the Bears in the 1956 Championship Game got the Giants their first NFL title in 18 years, and their fourth NFL title up to that point. The Giants would not win another NFL title for 30 years (1986 season). (The Giants now have won 8 NFL titles including 4 Super Bowl titles [last in the 2011 season].) The 1956 New York Giants featured 5 Pro Football Hall of Fame players on their roster (Emlen Tunnell, Andy Robustelli, Rosey Brown, Frank Gifford, Sam Huff), as well as two coaching greats who were early in their careers, and who also were later inducted into the Hall of Fame: Vince Lombardi (Giants’ Offensive coordinator) and Tom Landry (Giants’ Defensive coordinator) {photo of Lombardi & Landry circa 1956}.

6 New York Giants players made the 1956 NFL All-Pro team…
-Frank Gifford (Halfback). Frank Gifford was voted 1956 Sporting News & UPI Most Valuable Player [Pro Football HoF, 1977].
-Sam Huff (Linebacker). Sam Huff was named 1956 NFL Rookie of the Year [Pro Football HoF, 1982].
-Emlen Tunnell (Defensive back) [Pro Football HoF, 1967].
-Andy Robustelli (Defensive End) [Pro Football HoF, 1971].
-Rosey Brown (Offensive Tackle) [Pro Football HoF, 1975].
-Rosey Grier (Defensive Tackle).

Here is a detailed and comprehensive look at the title-winning 1956 New York football Giants,
From Big Blue Interactive.com, The 1956 New York Giants [illustrated article] (by Larry Schmitt on May 30 2015 at bigblueinteractive.com).


1956 NFL Attendance
Home average attendance (6 home games)
Los Angeles Rams: 61,189.
Detroit Lions: 55,161.
Chicago Bears: 48,476.
New York Giants: 47,063.
San Francisco 49ers: 45,314.
Baltimore Colts: 39,745.
Cleveland Browns: 36,941.
Washington Redskins: 29,148.
Pittsburgh Steelers: 28,392.
Philadelphia Eagles: 24,431.
Green Bay Packers: 24,054.
Chicago Cardinals: 23,545.
Source: pro-football-reference.com/1956/attendance.


Helmet & unifom changes for 1956 NFL…
As of 1956, NFL teams could wear their dark jersey and the visiting team could actually also wear their dark jersey for the same game. Circa the mid-1950s, because of the increasing importance of televised broadcasts of NFL games, that would soon change. You see, if both home and road teams were wearing dark colored jerseys (or both wearing light-colored jerseys), it made it very hard for television viewers to differentiate between the two teams (this was the era of black-and-white television). Here, at gridiron-uniforms.com/[1956, week 1], is an example of color-clashes in NFL games, from the opening week of the 1956 season; note in this link that you can see that 4 of the 6 games in that week would have been very hard to watch on a black-and-white television. That would change the next year (in 1957), when it became mandatory in the NFL for home teams to wear their dark jersey, and for the visitors to wear their white (or light-colored) jersey.

In 1956, three teams ended up wearing their white jerseys more of the time than their dark jersey….the Browns (eleven times in white, including all their 6 home games), the Giants (8 times in white, including 4 of their 7 home games [including the Championship Game versus the Bears]), and the Eagles (7 times in white, including 3 of their 6 home games). The Colts wore their white jersey six times, including in 3 of their home games. The Colts also changed their helmets in 1956 – from a blue helmet to a white helmet, and the Colts continued to feature their prototype-horseshoe-logo – worn on the back of their helmet (see illustration below). In 1956, four teams did not wear a white (or light-colored jersey): Bears, Packers, Rams, 49ers, and three of them only wore one jersey…the Bears (midnight-blue jersey), the Rams (yellow jersey, and the 49ers (red jersey). The Packers wore a dark-forest-green-and-white jersey for their first game, and then wore dark-greyish-blue-and-gold jerseys for the next 11 games (see more on that further below).
[To see info on who wore what, and when, in 1956, go to gridiron-uniforms.com/[1956] and then click on numbers “1|2|3|4…[etc]“, found below the header that reads “1956 NFL Teams”.]

-In 1956, the Baltimore Colts went from blue to white helmets, retaining the small-horseshoe-at-back-of-helmet logo (see images below for the prototype-Colts-horseshoe logos from the 1954-56 era). Some players on the ’56 Colts wore a dark-blue facemask (see following link). {Here are photos of a reproduction of a 1956 Colts helmet (helmethut.com).} (In the next year of 1957, the Colts would introduce their large-horseshoe-in-center-of-helmet logo, which the Colts franchise still uses to this day.)
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Above: helmet and jersey illustrations by Gridiron Uniform Database at gridiron-uniforms.com/[Colts].

-In 1956, the Green Bay Packers wore white helmets for the first of three seasons (1956-58); and in 1956, the Packers’ alternate color-scheme of white and dark-forest-green was introduced, and it too only lasted for 3 seasons (1956, ’57, ’58). {Here is the only color image I could find of this shade of Packers green: photos of Forrest Gregg & Bart Starr from pre-season 1956.} It really is a forgotten period in the history of the Packers. {Here is a black-and-white photo of Packers QB Tobin Rote in the 1956 Packers dark-green-and-white uniforms (it is from that aforementioned 1956 opening day game of Packers v Lions.} {Here are Gridiron Uniform Database’s illustrations for the uniforms of the 1956 Green Bay Packers.} The Packers wore their dark-forest-green-and-white gear only once in ’56 (as mentioned, on opening day), but in the following season of 1957, when the NFL introduced that rule that said all teams must wear dark jerseys at home and light-colored jerseys on the road, the Packers wore the white-and-dark-forest-green for all their 6 road games {1957 Green Bay Packers}. Then, in the season after that (1958), the Packers wore dark-forest-green-and-white for all 6 home games (and wore a very similar-looking white-with-dark-blue-trim for all 6 road games), making it the only season in the Packers’ history, besides {1922}, when gold (yellow-orange or metallic-gold) was not in their colors. It was also their worst season ever [1-10-1]. {Here are the dreary and eminently forgettable uniforms of the 1958 Green Bay Packers}.)

-In 1956, the San Francisco 49ers switched their helmet-color from dark-red, to white, and wore gear that basically emulated the nearby Stanford college football team (ie, just white helmets and red jerseys, with no silver or gold at all…a very plain look). {Here are photos of 1956 49ers trading cards ; here is the uniform of the 1956 San Francisco 49ers.} The Niners not only looked dull in 1956, but they also looked too much like the Chicago Cardinals of 1956. (The 49ers’ helmets would change again the following season of 1957, to metallic-gold, before switching again back to silver, then to back gold once again, for good, in 1964.)

-In 1956, Washington changed their helmets (yet again), from burgandy, back to metallic-gold. In the early 1950s, Washington had worn a metallic-gold helmet with a burgandy-red center stripe, but in 1956 and ’57 Washington wore a Notre-Dame-style all-metallic-gold helmet {see this 1958 Gene Brito trading card, with Brito in the ’57 Washington uniform}. {Here is a page that shows many color photos of Washington uniforms circa 1950 to ’80, mikestanhope.com/[Washington].} (Washington would keep the gold helmets until late in the 1958 season, when the team introduced their feather helmet [white-and-red-feather on back of burgandy-colored-helmet/used from 1968 to 1964].)
___
Photo and Image credits on map page…
1956 New York Giants…
Helmet, photo by sports.ha.com/mid-1950-s-new-york-giants-helmet-attributed-to-charlie-conerly. NY Giants players on bench [photo from 1956]: Frank Gifford (16), Ray Beck (61), Charley Conerly (42), Alex Webster (29), photo unattributed at bigblueinteractive.com/2015/05/30/the-1956-new-york-giants. Frank Gifford [photo ca. 1956], photo unattributed at bigblueinteractive.com/2015/08/09/frank-gifford-passes-away. Sam Huff [photo ca. 1958], photo unattributed at pinterest.com. Charley Conerly, [Dec. 3 1956 issue of Sports Illustrated], photo unattributed at bigblueinteractive.com/2015/05/30/the-1956-new-york-giants/. Rosey Grier [photo ca. 1957], photo by Robert Riger at gettyimages.com. Andy Robustelli, [1981 retro-trading-card], from ebay.com ar. Emlen Tunnell [photo circa 1955], photo by Associated Press via nytimes.com/football. Alex Webster [photo from 1956 NFL Championship Game v Bears], photo unattributed at bigblueinteractive.com/2015/05/30/the-1956-new-york-giants/. Rosey Brown [photo circa 1955], photo by David Durochik/Associated Press via nfl.com/photoessays.

1956 NFL Offensive leaders…
Ed Brown (Bears), 1956 Topps trading card, photo from psacard.com. Tobin Rote (Packers), [1955 action photo v Browns], photo from Bettman Archive via Getty Images via packershistory.net/[1955 Packers, game 5]. Rick Casares (Bears) [1957 color photo], original photo unattributed at windycitygridiron.com/forgotten-bears. Frank Gifford [1955 action photo v Colts], photo unattributed at bigblueinteractive.com. Billy Howton (Packers) [1954 photo], photo by Vernon Biever via si.com/nfl/photos/2010/10/20rare-nfl-photos-by-the-late-vernon-biever.

-Map was drawn with assistance from images at these links…
48-state-USA/southern Canada, worksheeto.com/post_50-states-and-capitals-printable-worksheet.
Section of Mexico, as well as coastlines-&-oceans, lib.utexas.edu/maps/hist-us.
-Thanks to the contributors at pro-football-reference.com.
-Thanks to the contributors at NFL 1956 season (en.wikipedia.org).
-Special thanks to Tim Brulia, Bill Schaefer and Rob Holecko of The Gridiron Uniform Database, for giving billsportsmaps.com the permission to use football uniforms illustrations from Gridiron Uniform Database {GUD}.

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