1959 NFL Season
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1959 NFL Season

1959 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 26 -
December 13, 1959
East ChampionsNew York Giants
West ChampionsBaltimore Colts
Championship Game
ChampionsBaltimore Colts

The 1959 NFL season was the 40th regular season of the National Football League.

Tragedy struck on October 11 as NFL Commissioner Bert Bell suffered a fatal heart attack at Philadelphia's Franklin Field while watching the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers play. He died at age 65 at the nearby university hospital.[1][2] League Treasurer Austin Gunsel was named interim commissioner for the rest of the season.[3]

The Chicago Cardinals played their final season in the Windy City before relocating to St. Louis for the following season.

In the NFL Championship Game on December 27, the Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants for the second year in a row.[4][5][6][7]


The 1959 NFL Draft was held on December 1, 1958, and January 21, 1959 at Philadelphia's Warwick Hotel. With the first pick, the Green Bay Packers selected quarterback Randy Duncan from the University of Iowa.

Conference races

The NFL had six teams in each conference; each played a home-and-away game against the other five conference teams, and two games outside the conference. The Bears and Cardinals, and the Redskins and Colts, faced each other in an interconference game each year, as they were close geographic rivals.

After the second week, when the 1-1-0 Giants had to share the Eastern Conference lead with all five of the other clubs, the Giants won seven of the next eight games to clinch the title in Week Ten. In the Western Conference, the San Francisco 49ers, who had come close (1952, 1953, 1954, and 1957) several times since joining the NFL, were 6-1 and had a two-game lead over their closest rival, the 4-3 Colts. In Week Nine, though, the 49ers lost in Baltimore, 45-14 (November 22) and they shared the lead at 6-3-0. Two weeks later, San Francisco had the home field advantage when they faced the Colts for a rematch. Baltimore won again, 34-14, and clinched the title the following week.

Week Western Eastern
1 3 teams (Bal, GB, SF) 1-0-0 3 teams (Cards, NYG, Pit) 1-0-0
2 Tie (GB and SF) 2-0-0 6 teams (Cards, Cle, NYG, Phi, Pit, Was) 1-1-0
3 Green Bay Packers 3-0-0 3 teams (NYG, Phi, Was) 2-1-0
4 3 teams (Bal, GB, SF) 3-1-0 New York Giants 3-1-0
5 Tie (Bal, SF) 4-1-0 New York Giants 4-1-0
6 San Francisco 49ers 5-1-0 New York Giants 5-1-0
7 San Francisco 49ers 6-1-0 New York Giants 6-1-0
8 San Francisco 49ers 6-2-0 Tie (Cle, NYG) 6-2-0
9 Tie (Bal, SF) 6-3-0 New York Giants 7-2-0
10 Tie (Bal, SF) 7-3-0 New York Giants 8-2-0
11 Baltimore Colts 8-3-0 New York Giants 9-2-0
12 Baltimore Colts 9-3-0 New York Giants 10-2-0

Final standings

NFL Championship Game

Baltimore 31, NY Giants 16 at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, on December 27.[4][5][6][7]


Coaching changes

Stadium changes


  1. ^ "NFL head Bert Bell dies at 65". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. October 12, 1959. p. 1.
  2. ^ "Bert Bell, NFL czar, dies at 65". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. October 12, 1959. p. 2, part 2.
  3. ^ "Austin Gunsel named acting boss of NFL". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. October 15, 1959. p. 30.
  4. ^ a b "Pick Colts to retain pro crown". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. December 27, 1959. p. 1C.
  5. ^ a b Sell, Jack (December 28, 1959). "Colts destroy Giants for pro crown 31-16". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 20.
  6. ^ a b "Colts' 24 pt. rally sinks Giants". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. December 28, 1959. p. 2, part 2.
  7. ^ a b Maule, Tex (January 4, 1960). "The best team you ever saw". Sports Illustrated. p. 12.

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