1946 championship game -- and a kid's broken heart

[EDITOR'S NOTE: George Cronin, one of the elder statesmen here at Big Blue View Nation, will be entertaining us during the off-season with stories of the Giants of yesteryear. His stories will appear on Saturdays.]

Hours before the 1946 championship game with the four-times-in-the-forties champion "Monsters of the Midway" Bears, a story broke that quarterback Frankie Filchock and Melre Hapes, the fullback, had been approached by gamblers and offered bribes to throw the game.

The Mayor and Police Commissioner met with Tim Mara in the Mayor's office and summoned the players. Hapes admitted being approached, Frankie didn't. Bert Bell, the NFL Commissioner, suspended Mapes, but let Frankie play.

Frankie was met by boos when he took the field at the Polo Grounds, which drove a dagger into my heart.

Frankie played 50 minutes. Early in the game, he suffered a broken nose.

Sid Luckman, who never ran, bootlegged and ran 19 yards to a TD.

The Bears later kicked a field goal to win 27-14, a heartbreaking loss for a 13-year-old who, once Frankie was allowed to play, was sure his hero would lead the team to a win. After all, they'd shut out the Bears 14-0 earlier in the year. The final score matched the betting line, so those who took or gave points broke even.

On the day the would-be briber was convicted, the Commissioner suspended Mapes and Frankie, despite the presiding Judge's statement that Frankie wasn't an accomplice, but an unfortunate victim of circumstances.

Bell's thinking was that not reporting a bribe offer was as bad as taking one (Mapes testified he told Frankie about the offer.)

When asked about his plans after his suspension, Frankie said he had none, that he'd never imagined he'd be out of football and still wanted to play.

And play he did, in Canada, where he was a great attraction. In 1950, the suspension was lifted when Bell was bombarded by testimonials and entreaties, including the NYC Mayor and DA. The Giants, saying they were emphasizing youth, didn't sign him.

Frankie never spoke to a Mara after that. He played for Montreal in 1950 and, when the Canadian season finished, went to Baltimore (the NFL was still playing.) The Colts folded after the season ended and Frankie never played in the NFL again.

He returned to Canada as a player-coach until 1953 and then became a full-time coach. During his career, he played or coached pro ball in 12 cities (including a brief stint with the Denver Broncos) 6 leagues and 2 countries.

It's a sad and tragic tale, and I'll go to my grave believing Frankie got screwed. Not as badly as Babe Dahlgren, maybe, but pretty bad.

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