The Problem With The Internet

The Problem With The Internet
by Rob Holecko

The problem with the internet is you can't always believe everything you see, even when the source is somewhat reputable.  Yesterday we unveiled a new feature here at The Gridiron Uniform Database called "On This Day..." where we will feature past games played on this calendar day from now through the Super Bowl.  In researching today's December 17 game, we were preparing the head-to-head matchup of the 1933 NFL Championship game, and in stumbling upon the Pro Football Hall of Fame's website we came upon this picture and caption to the right, purported to be the 12/17/33 NFL Championship game between the Giants and the Bears at Wrigley Field.
Not "On This Day..."
Not so fast, my friends!  After consulting with the other two-thirds of the staff, our Bill Schaefer and Tim Brulia told me that this picture is indeed not from that game.  The grandstands, they told me, indicates that that game appears to be at the Polo Grounds, therefore is it probably from the 11/19/33 regular season game between the same two teams.  After further research, I came across this contemporary picture from the Pittsburgh Press via Google News, that indicates that yes, the Bears did wear white in that game:

But what about the other picture?  Well apparently the folks at the Hall of Fame believe it is from the Championship Game, and because of that other people on the internet believe that it is true, and they blog about it, and the error gets compounded.  (Note: after the publishing of this article, Keith Yowell, author of 'Today In Pro Football History,' whose comment you can read below, updated his site and corrected the picture to the above actual image from the 1933 NFL Championship Game. Special thanks also to Tom Farley for bringing our research to Keith's attention. All any of us want is accuracy. Now if only the Pro Football HOF can correct their information, we'll be all set!).  

Nonetheless, as our research shows, the Bears did wear white in that game, and the picture from the HOF (and elsewhere) on the internet was not from that game.  It just goes to show that you shouldn't assume anything on the internet is entirely accurate without double-checking it yourself, no matter what the source is, even if it is the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Here at the Gridiron Uniform Database, we'll always strive to bring you the most accurate facts and whenever we do uncover new information, we'll bring it to you and update accordingly.

Speaking of which, sometime in the new future, we'll be bringing you some new discoveries about these mid-1930s Giants, thanks to our head researcher Tim Bruilia, working with "bigbluelarry", our friend Larry Schmitt.  Without further ado, the "On This Day..."

On This Day...

The NFL split into Eastern and Western divisions in 1933 and the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants were the division champions and met in the first ever scheduled Championship game on December 17.  These teams met in November, the aforementioned game at the Polo Grounds, which the Giants won 3-0.  This rematch was an exciting game full of trick plays and exciting action with players such as Bronco Nagurski and Red Grange, and the Bears held on to win 23-21 and claim their third NFL title.  You can read in-depth write-ups of the game here, here and here (just remember the pictures may not be from the correct game!)

Both of these 1933 Giants-Bears matchups have been added to our 'matchups database,' and if there is a game you'd like to see in there that hasn't been added yet, let us know and we'll get to it. We'll be back tomorrow with another past NFL matchup, another game with an exciting memorable lateral and what a surprise, it features the Buccaneers again! 


  1. That's Carl Brumbaugh with the stiff-arm on Hall of Famer Ken Strong from the '33 Championship game.

    As to the Bears-Giants game shot from the Polo Grounds, the Bill Hewitt lateral to Bill Karr? In those years, laterals were quite a common occurrence in a game, perhaps 7 or 8 times for each team in a game. As were quick kicks, but I digress.

  2. That shot of the lateral has bothered me for years, because it's been repeatedly presented as being from the '33 championship game.

    It seems as if any historically minded fan could tell you that the first photo was not shot in Wrigley Field. There's no cross-section of Wrigley in a football configuration that looks like that, whereas the Polo Grounds in the '30s was double-decked all around the football field, and had the huge billboards on the outfield walls.

    This misidentification seems to have been accepted as fact years ago, then perpetuated from one official NFL publication to the next, giving the error a false validity. Thanks, Rob, for correcting the record.

    And I agree with Timmy that in the Bronko Nagurski era, laterals were a far more frequent occurrence.

  3. From the author of everything that appears on the blog "Today in Pro Football History", I appreciate having it brought to my attention that the Hewitt photo is not from the 1933 championship game and will replace it shortly. I should have checked it with a more critical eye, but fell into the trap of accepting it because it has been widely disseminated as being from that game - and not just on the internet! One of the resources I used for my post was the NFL-produced volume "The First 50 Years", published in 1969 (internet? what's that? lol) and including the photo in question as "a historic photograph" of the winning TD in process. Thanks again, I do strive for accuracy!

  4. Glad we could help! You and your blog are certainly not alone, as you said, it has been so widely disseminated as being from that game (but I had no idea that the mis-identification went back 40 years and in print, no less!) At some point (perhaps the book you mentioned) that picture was mis-identified and it all has snowballed from there, from one lazy editor who failed to fact-check properly.

    I had read your blog entry before writing that post yesterday, and I thought about contacting you, but I figured that it was such a widespread thing, and the mis-identification certainly wasn't your fault, not considering how many sources on the internet have it as such, especially the Pro Football HOF.

    Accuracy is our foremost goal, as well!

  5. Came across this past discussion while looking for photos from the 1933 title game, with the 80th anniversary fast approaching.

    Of course, you guys have it all figured out correctly, but I thought you'd like to know a couple further details. First, I was able to find different images of the title game than those in the Pittsburgh paper in the Chicago Tribune archives. The Bears were in white, no question.

    From the 11-20-33 issue of the Chicago Tribune, under the story headlined "Bears and Cardinals lose 3 to 0 Football Battles" comes the following passage on the game between the Giants and Bears at the Polo Grounds:

    "A 25 yard gain on a combination forward and lateral from Brumbaugh to Hewitt to Karr gave them a fourth successive first down at the 7 yard line and a touchdown seemed certain."

    Well, that wraps it up in a bow for me. The false title game photo fits the action in that game description pretty darn accurately. The game report continues with the Bears fumbling, hence the 3-0 final. Nicely done guys, and glad I could put an exclamation on the end of your sentence.



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