Continuing with the History of the New York Giants today I will be focusing on the Giants of the 30′s.
1930: Near the end of another impressive second place 13-4 season Head Coach LeRoy Andres was replaced by Bernie Friedman, and Steve Owen. Following the season Owen takes over the job full time and would serve as the Giants Head Coach for the next 23 years.
1931: With the depression gripping the NFL, Tim Mara was worried that it would not only cost him his team, but his business hands over the day to day control of the team to his two sons Jack, who was twenty-two, and Wellington, who was fourteen. Wellington Mara became the youngest owner of a football team and began his storied career as a major player within the Giants organization. The Giants would go on to suffer through a mediocre 7-6-1 season.
1932: The Giants continue to struggle posting a losing record for the second time in franchise history at 4-6-2, as the NFL was set to move into the modern era.
1933: In the beginning of the NFL’s modern era the Giants begin the first year of divisional play by dominating the Eastern Division with an 11-3 record, and claiming a spot in the first official NFL Championship Game in Chicago against the Bears. The game would seesaw back-and-forth with the Giants taking a 21-16 lead in the 4th Quarter. However, with less than a minute to go, the Giants defense could not hold on, and allowed a lateral that accounted for 19-yard game winning Touchdown. The Giants would make an attempt at a similar play but Bears great Red Grange grabbed Giants Back Dale Burnett around the chest making such a play impossible as time ran out.
1934: Despite struggling to finish 8-5 the Giants finish at the top of a mediocre Eastern Division to earn a NFL Championship Game rematch with Bears. However even with the Giants playing host in the Polo Grounds they had their work cut out for them as the Bears finished the season a perfect 13-0. In the first half the Giants had trouble just keeping their feet on the ground as the Polo Grounds was covered in a sheet of ice, as the thermometer read that it was only nine degrees. Giants Coach Steve Owen seeing his players stumble decided to take a gamble and sent for basketball sneakers to be worn in the second half. The Giants would fall behind 13-3, but in the 4th Quarter the Giants were able to get their footing with sneakers as the Bears still stumbled on the icy field. The steady footed Giants 4th Quarter uprising began with an Ed Danowski 28-yard Touchdown pass to Ike Franklyn. Ken Strong would race 42 yards for another Touchdown just moments later to give the Giants a 17-13 lead. Danowski and Strong would then score subsequent touchdowns to bring the final score up to 30-13 in a game that would be forever known as “The Sneaker Game”.
1935: The Giants win their third consecutive Eastern Division Title and earn a trip to Detroit to take on the Lions in the NFL Championship Game. The Lions took a quick 13-0 lead in the 1st Quarter when Leroy “Ace” Gutowsky plunged over from the two yard line and Earl “Dutch” Clark shook loose on a 40-yard touchdown romp. The Giants would close the gap at 13-7 in the 3rd Quarter when Ed Danowski connected with Ken Strong for a 42-yard touchdown pass. However, the Lions defense would score twice in the 4th Quarter on a blocked punt and intercepted pass to end the Giants Championship reign.
1936: After three straight years in the NFL Championship Game the Giants suffer through a disappointing 5-6-1 season and finish in third Place in the Eastern Division.
1937: The Giants rebound to finish in second Place with a 6-3-2 record, but lose two key games to the eventual NFL Champion Washington Redskins, who claimed the Eastern Division over the Giants.
1938: After a 1-2 start the Giants go on a season ending tear and didn’t lose another game the rest of the way to reclaiming the Eastern Division Title with an 8-2-1 record. In the NFL Championship Game the Giants would host the Green Bay Packers at the Polo Grounds, in a bruising thriller that was staged for the largest crowd 48,120 o see a championship game up to that time. With the victory, the Giants became the first team to win the championship twice since the divisional split-up. The Giants blocked two punts early in the game, and capitalized on both with Ward Cuff kicking a 13-yard Field Goal and Tuffy Leemans blasting over on a six yard plunge. Arnie Herber’s 50-yard Touchdownpass to Carl Mulleneaux got the Packers on the scoreboard, but Ed Danowski hit Hap Barnard for a 20-yard Touchdown pass and a 16-7 lead. The Packers closed to 16-14 at halftime on Clark Hinkle’s 6-yard Touchdown, then took the lead 17-16 on Engebretsen’s 3rd Quarter Field Goal. However, the Giants stormed as Danowski hit Hank Soar for the game-winning 23-yard Touchdown pass.
1939: The Giants dominate the Eastern Division with a 9-1-1 record on their way to an NFL Championship rematch with Green Bay Packers. In the Championship Game played at the Milwaukee Fair Grounds the Giants would find themselves caught in a 35-mph biting cold wind that completely disrupted the Giants passing game. The Packers would go on top shutdown the Giants and claim the NFL title with a 27-0 victory.