We have come to 1962 on NFL Thursday today, and it’s the second year of the Green Bay Packers and their decade’s dynasty (five NFL titles in seven seasons). We will determine championship game MVPs for both professional leagues, even though the AFL didn’t start doing until 1963. Oh, and don’t forget the ROTY hardware, either. Woohoo!
You can check out our first miniseries entry on this year for context, by the way. Enjoy!
1962 NFL Championship Game MVP: Ray Nitschke, LB, Green Bay Packers (original); Jerry Kramer, RG/K, Green Bay Packers (revised)
The Packers beat the New York Giants, 16-7, in a defensive battle, and Green Bay linebacker Ray Nitschke won the MVP Award, mostly for recovering two Giants fumbles. We know that statistic to be mere lucky, sabermetrically speaking, so we will be hard-pressed to confirm this vote.
The Packers gained just 244 yards on offense, and the Green Bay defense as a whole forced three turnovers while holding the Giants offense to just 291 yards. But this is what we find interesting: The Packers regular kicker (halfback Paul Hornung) couldn’t kick due to an injury, and Green Bay right guard Jerry Kramer filled in—kicking three field goals that decided the game, even though he did miss two.
Kramer also added an extra point on the Packers’ only touchdown, and he helped pave the way for Green Bay’s 148 yards on the ground. It’s a random choice, but we see his contributions having more value than Nitschke’s random luck.
1962 AFL Championship Game MVP: Len Dawson, QB, Dallas Texans
The Dallas Texans won the AFL title with a 20-17 double-overtime win over intrastate rival Houston, and that brought the Oilers’ two-year championship run to an end in the upstart league. No one talks about this contest much, historically, but it was a great game by any standard. The Texans led 17-0 at halftime, so Houston’s comeback was newsworthy, too, in addition to the rare overtime element.
The Oilers committed 5 turnovers, all interceptions of George Blanda, and they were split among four Texans defensive players, none for big returns or scores. The Oilers also out-gained the Texans by 122 yards, so the Dallas defense wasn’t that stellar. Offensively, though, Dallas has few MVP candidates.
It’s either quarterback Len Dawson (105.7 QB rating and 26 yards rushing) or halfback Abner Haynes (71 scrimmage yards, two TDs). Dawson only attempted 14 passes on the day, though, and Haynes fumbled once for the Texans’ only turnover. We will go with Dawson for game management and no turnovers, even though he let himself get sacked six times for 50 yards (!) in lost yardage. Oh well …
1962 NFL ROTY: Ronnie Bull, FB, Chicago Bears (original, confirmed)
These awards are harder to analyze with two leagues, as Chicago Bears fullback Ronnie Bull was the only first-year NFL player to compile at least 500 scrimmage yards in 1962. He won the vote, and we will confirm it, as there are no other real options.
The Bears went 9-5 to finish four games behind the Packers in the West Division as Bull compiled 694 scrimmage yards, while scoring just one and fumbling five times. But he’s literally all we have for the award this time out. If it had been one league combined, no way he wins this hardware.
1962 AFL ROTY: Curtis McClinton, FB, Dallas Texans (original); Bobby Jackson, FB, San Diego Chargers
We have only two real candidates here: Texans fullback Curtis McClinton (937 scrimmage yards, 2 TDs, 5 TOs) and San Diego Chargers fullback Bobby Jackson (547 scrimmage yards, 7 TDs, 0 TOs). With the Texans finishing 7 games ahead of the Chargers in the West Division, we can see why McClinton won the award at the time—but we can’t give it to him with that TD:TO ratio. No way.
So, we give the nod to Jackson, who helped his team finished 4-10 rather than 2-12 or 3-11, instead of to McClinton—who may have prevented his team from finishing 12-2 or even 13-1. Fumble machines do not win awards in our world of retroactive analysis, if we can help it.