College football was sacrosanct in the American lexicon and not to be infringed upon in any capacity by the burgeoning professional league. This is clearly illustrated by the actions of the 1922 Green Bay Packers. They were forced to withdraw from the league because they had the temerity to use players who had college eligibility. After promising to obey the policy of not engaging the services of college players with remaining eligibility, Curly Lambeau purchased the Green Bay Packers for 50 dollars and reentered the league. Despite his gallant efforts to sustain the team, by the end of the season he faced bankruptcy. In an effort to save their team a group of merchants in Green Bay raised $2500.00 , set up a public, non-profit trust and have been operating under that same Trust ever since. Although this may have been the first time the public came to the rescue of a private sports club it certainly would not be the last. This arrangement, engineered by Curly Lambeau and his benefactors would provide the predicate for future corporate socialism that pervades our most revered “private” sports clubs and multi-national corporations.
From 1930 through 1960, Tim Mara of the New York Giants and George Halas of the Chicago Bears would take de facto leadership roles in navigating through the incredible challenges the fledgling league faced. From avoiding conflict with the powerful entities of college football, to financial instability and the still yet to be codified rules, these 2 were integral in promoting professional football. The game received a much needed lift in credibility in 1933 when rules that were unique to pro football were adopted and the first NFL Championship game was scheduled prior to the season. The league’s goal of distancing itself from college football and establishing their unique identity was taking root. This may well have been the start of Corporate Branding that modern marketing courses love to preach. Incidentally, the Chicago Bears prevailed in a 23-21 squeaker over the New York Football Giants.