The 1934 National Football League Championship Game, also known as the Sneakers Game, was the second scheduled NFL championship game. Played at the Polo Grounds in New York City on December 9, it was the first title game for the newly created Ed Thorp Memorial Trophy. With a remarkable fourth quarter, the New York Giants defeated the Chicago Bears 30–13.
The defending champion Bears entered the game undefeated at 13–0, with an 18-game winning streak. The Giants (8–5) won consecutive division titles, but had lost their final regular season game at Philadelphia. The Bears were favored to repeat as champions.
A freezing rain the night before the game froze the Polo Grounds field. After Giants end Ray Flaherty remarked to head coach Steve Owen that sneakers would provide better footing on the frozen playing surface, Owen sent his friend Abe Cohen, a tailor who assisted on the Giants sideline, to Manhattan College to get some sneakers. There, Brother Jasper, the athletic director (and the later namesake of the Manhattan Jaspers) emptied the lockers of the school's basketball team. Cohen arrived in the third quarter with nine pairs of basketball sneakers from the college.
The Bears led 10–3 at the half when the Giants switched to the basketball sneakers. A Chicago field goal was the only score in the third quarter, extending the lead to ten points. Early in the fourth, Giants quarterback Ed Danowski threw a touchdown pass to Ike Frankian to close the score to 13–10. (The pass was initially intercepted at the Bears' 2-yard line, but Frankian then grabbed the ball out of the defender's hands.) On the next New York drive, running back Ken Strong scored on a 42-yard touchdown run. Later an 11-yard run by Strong was turned into another touchdown for the Giants, and they scored for a final time on Danowski's 9-yard run, a fourth unanswered touchdown. New York outscored the Bears 27–0 in the fourth quarter to win 30–13.
Many of the participants have been interviewed since the game took place, most notably Bronko Nagurski of the Bears and Mel Hein of the Giants. Generally, players from both sides have attributed the Giants' second half dominance to their selection of footwear. A mini-documentary of the game, narrated by Pat Summerall, can be seen in the 1987 video "Giants Among Men."
Sunday, December 9, 1934First quarter
NY – FG Ken Strong 38, 3–0 NY
CHI – Bronko Nagurski 1 run (Jack Manders kick), 7–3 CHI
CHI – FG Manders 17, 10–3 CHI
CHI – FG Manders 22, 13–3 CHI
NY – Ike Frankian 28 pass from Ed Danowski (Strong kick), 13–10 CHI
NY – Strong 42 run (Strong kick), 17–13 NY
NY – Strong 11 run (kick failed), 23–13 NY
NY – Danowski 9 run (Bo Molenda kick), 30–13 NY
Referee: Bobby Cahn
Umpire: George Lowe
Head Linesman: George Vergara
Field Judge: M.J. Meyer
Kickoff: 2 p.m. EST
The NFL had only four game officials in 1934; the back judge was added in 1947, the line judge in 1965, and the side judge in 1978.
An projected attendance of 55,000 was not reached, the week's weather kept it under 36,000. Each player on the winning Giants team received $621, while the Bears received $414 each.NFL Network – The Sneakers Game