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Sports Then and Now



80 Years Ago: NFL Action on “A Day That Will Live in Infamy” 3

Posted on December 07, 2021 by Dean Hybl

The first Sunday in December of 1941 began much like Sundays have for years prior and for the 80 years since.  The morning for many included a church service and then was followed by Sunday afternoon National Football League action.

December 7, 1941 was Tuffy Leemans’ Day at the New York Giants football game.

Though the NFL in 1941 was not the Sunday national obsession that it has become over the past 80 years, there was still excitement for the final three games of the regular season.

In New York, a crowd of 55,051 packed the Polo Grounds for “Tuffy Leemans’ Day” as the New York Giants were recognizing their All-Pro running back in the final regular season game of his sixth NFL season. Leemans had led the NFL in rushing with 830 yards as a rookie in 1936 and as was common during the era, he was a multi-threat who also could be a passer, receiver, punt returner and play defense. He would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978.

The Giants entered the game with an 8-2 record and having already clinched the East Division title. Their opponents, the cross-town rival Brooklyn Dodgers (yes the Brooklyn Dodgers was also the name of an NFL team from 1930-1943) entered the game with a 6-4 record.

Brooklyn had defeated the Giants 16-13 earlier in the season, but a recent loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers had knocked the Dodgers out of contention for the division title.

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