The Packers and Bears have the longest running rivalry in the NFL, dating back to the 1920s, with the team’s meeting for the 182nd time on Sunday. This time, for a trip to the Super Bowl.
The most amazing thing about the series is that the teams have only met once in the playoffs — back in 1941 — again for a chance to play for the NFL title (against the Giants). It was that game that forced the NFL to adopt its “sudden death” overtime rules.
According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Fierle, the “sudden death system” was not put into the by-laws until 1941. Then commissioner Elmer Layden met with Packers coach Curly Lambeau and Bears coach George Halas during the week before the playoff game to go over the new rules. The mere notion of “sudden death” drew considerable pregame hype.
Though, it was all for naught as the Bears won convincingly, 33-14. Obviously games not living up to the hype is not a current phenomenon.
The most amazing thing is that the “sudden death” rules only applied to the divisional championship game, and not the NFL title game. If the 1941 NFL Championship Game had ended in a tie at the conclusion of regulation, team teams would have been deemed co-champions, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Could you imagine teams settling for co-championships instead of being able to settle it in “sudden death” overtime?
Well, that would have been easier for Donovan McNabb to understand. But it does show just how far we have come. When you think of how unfair the previous “sudden death” rules were, realize that it could have been much, much worse.