NEW YORK —
Most notably, there was the famous “Sneakers Games” in 1934, when the New York Giants borrowed some basketball shoes from a nearby college, changed out of their cleats in the third quarter, and turned a 13-3 deficit into a 30-13 victory at the ice-covered Polo Grounds. The Giants would repeat the tactic 22 years later, romping to another title largely by having better footing than their opponent.
Both title games that Trippi played in were affected by the weather.
In 1947, Comiskey Park was coated with a thin sheet of ice when the Cardinals hosted the Philadelphia Eagles on a bitterly cold day (Trippi remembers the wind chill being minus-20). Borrowing a page from the Giants, Trippi traded his cleats for sneakers and scored two touchdowns on a 44-yard run and a 75-yard punt return, leading Chicago to a 28-21 victory and what remains the franchise’s only title.
“The only time I played an NFL game in tennis shoes was in Chicago for our championship team,” Trippi said. “We got better footing in tennis shoes. You couldn’t stand up in cleats.”
The following year, the teams met again in the title game, this time at Philadelphia’s Shibe Park. A full-fledged blizzard struck the city, dumping so much snow the grounds crew couldn’t remove the tarp. The players were summoned from the locker room to help pull it off the field.
By the time the game kicked off, the field was completely covered again, this time by several inches of the white stuff. What followed barely qualified as football, much less a title game.
“It was more of a pushing game,” Trippi said, recalling how the players were slipping and sliding all over the place. “It was incredible. The officials improvised the whole game. No one could see the lines. The ballplayers just couldn’t react like they wanted. I think the fans got cheated out of seeing a real championship game.”