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Eighty-one years ago Tuesday, the NFL established its championship game

George Halas

George Halas

Getty Images

Imagine an NFL with no divisions and no end-of-season championship game to decide an annual league winner.

Such an NFL did exist in the league’s early days. But on this day 81 years ago, the league established two divisions and an end-of-season championship game, per the NFL’s Record and Fact Book.

According to the league, Bears owner George Halas and then-Boston Braves owner George Preston Marshall “pushed through” the divisional and title-game plans.

On December 17, 1933, the Bears won the first NFL Championship game, knocking off the visiting Giants 23-21 at Wrigley Field. The Bears had won the NFL’s Western Division, with the Giants capturing the Eastern Division.

By 1950, the NFL’s divisions had been rebranded as conferences. Seventeen years later, the NFL established two divisions within the conferences, with the Capitol and Century divisions in the Eastern Conference and the Coastal and Central divisions in the Western Conference. The league moved to a three-divisions-per-conference format after the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, with the four-division, two-conference setup coming into play 12 years ago.

The NFL Championship game, of course, has become the Super Bowl. From 1967-1969, there was an NFL Championship and a Super Bowl, with the winner of the former competing against the AFL winner in the latter.

A world with no Super Bowl? Yes, there was such a world.

Just imagine Week 17 in such a league.