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HISTORY 
of
Football
&
THE NFL

While this page is titled 

HISTORY of Football & THE NFL,
it is more so directed towards American Football and The NFL.

If you are interested in the complete history of Football and how it all originated,
as Football is the name given to a number of different, but related, team sports. The most popular of these world-wide is (association) football (also known as soccer). The English word "football" is also applied to American football, Australian rules football, Canadian football, Gaelic football, rugby football (rugby union and rugby league), and related games.
Each of these codes (specific sets of rules) is referred to as "football" by its followers.

HISTORY of Football & THE NFL
THE Complete History of Football


While preparing this site of NFL History. I have come across a lot of conflicts in dates of actual events. Many of my verifications come from references of the local Library (football and NFL history and facts, players and stats, etc from Encyclopedias)

HOWEVER,

Some facts are still undefined.

Any input from you visitors would be deeply appreciated by me and the many other visitors of this site.
All information will be investigated for true facts and any reference you have would help!

Thank you!


How Did It ALL Start   1861   1869   1874    1875   1876   1880   1881   1882   1883   1885   1887   1889   1890   1892   1893   1895   1896   1897   1898
  1900   1902   1903   1904   1905   1906   1909   1911   1912   1913   1915   1916   1917   1919
   1920   1921   1922   1923   1924   1925   1926   1927   1928  1929  
1930    1931   1932   1933   1934   1935   1936   1937   1938   1939  
1940   1941   1942   1943   1944   1945   1946   1947   1948   1949  
1950   1951   1952   1953   1954   1955   1956   1957   1958   1959  
1960   1961   1962   1963   1964   1965   1966   1967   1968   1969  
1970   1971   1972   1973  1974    1975   1976   1977   1978   1979  
1980   1981   1982   1983   1984   1985   1986   1987   1988  1989   
1990    1991   1992   1993   1994   1995   1996   1997   1998   1999   
2000   2001   2002   2003   2004   2005   2006   2007


History of Football
How Did It ALL Start

The history of American football, the great teams, great players and coaches

Football is an American sport and has been played for almost a century.
Hell. who knows? Could've been earlier.

 

During the 1820s a group of students at Princeton began playing what was then known as 'ballown'. There were no hard and fast rules applied to this earliest attempt at the game we now call football

1829 The first game of "football" was played between the freshman and sophomore classes at Harvard. The form of rugby was played on the first Monday of the semester, and became known as "Bloody Monday" because of the roughness of the game.

The "Bloody Monday" game became a yearly tradition, until 1860, when the Harvard faculty put an end to the event because it usually disintegrated into all-out mayhem.

 Pick up games, similar in style to that played on 'Bloody Monday', soon became popular on the Boston Common, catching on in popularity around 1860. Soon after the end of the American Civil War, around 1865, colleges began organizing football games.

In 1867, Princeton led the way in establishing some rudimentary rules of the game. Also in that year, the football itself was patented for the very first time.

The seed that sprouted the 32-team National Football League was planted Nov. 6, 1869, when Rutgers and Princeton played a college soccer game. The game used modified London Football Association rules. During the next seven years, rugby gained favor over soccer with the major eastern schools, and modern football began to develop from rugby.


Chronological Order


1861

The Oneida Football Club, formed in Boston is claimed by some sources as the first American football team. However, no-one knows what rules the club used. They may have played "kicking" games, "running" games, both or some hybrid form. The latter seems most likely, since the "Oneidas" are often credited with inventing the "Boston Game", which both allowed players to kick a round ball along the ground, and to pick it up and run with it. The game seems to have been popular in Massachusetts (at least) in the mid-19th century: for example, there are references to it being the most popular form of football at Harvard University, shortly afterwards.

1869 

The First Organized Football Game

Most football historians agree that the first recorded organized football game took place on November 6, 1869, when teams from Rutgers and Princeton universities met in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
The game used modified London Football Association rules.
During the next seven years, rugby gained favor with the major eastern schools over soccer, and modern football began to develop from rugby.

Rugby was actually pretty popular already at the time, but Harvard had banned it in 1860 because it was considered "barbaric." See above

The rules generally were the same as the rules of Association Football at the time. Rules number 1, 5, 7, 9 and 10 in particular reflect the influence of soccer, which at the time did not bar players from to hitting the ball (and taking a "fair catch" followed by a free kick), but did not allow them to hold and run with the ball.

Princeton and the NFL also state that the 1869 game was based on soccer. The historian Stephen Fox identifies it as "New York Ball", a soccer-like game (which should not be confused with a type of baseball that also went by the same name), common in the vicinity of New York City.

Games between the two colleges and other teams soon followed.

1. Rutgers won, 6 goals to 4.
2. It was played by two teams of 25.
3. Two members of each team were stationed near the opponent's goal in the hope of scoring from unguarded positions. This position in football games of that time was identified as "peanutter", and is evidence of the lack of a rule against offside play.
4. Each team was divided into 11 "fielders" and 12 "bulldogs".
5. The ball could be advanced only by kicking or batting it with the feet, hands, heads or sides. The rules banned 'throwing or running with the ball.'
6. Rutgers players, formed "a perfect interference" around the ball, a forerunner of "the flying wedge".
7. Rutgers players, advanced the ball by "short, skillful kicks and dribbles"
8. A Princeton player "threw himself into [a Rutgers] mass play, bursting us apart, and bowing us over"
9. One Rutgers player used a technique of kicking the rolling ball with his heel.
10. It has been suggested that they were using a round ball
11. Touchdowns were not a feature. (In fact none were recorded in games played by Rutgers until 1878-79.)

fter 1869, when collegians started playing soccer, the games got more and more like rugby. No one knew the rules anymore, because they changed constantly. The game wasn't just growing into something different than soccer. It was becoming different than rugby, too.

1873

October 19 - representatives from Yale, Columbia, Princeton, and Rutgers met at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City to codify the first set of intercollegiate football rules. Prior to this meeting, each school had its own set of rules and games were usually played using the home team's own particular code. At this meeting, a list of rules, based more on soccer than on rugby, was drawn up for intercollegiate football games.

1874

Harvard, which played the "Boston Game", a version of football that allowed carrying, refused to attend this rules conference and continued to play under its own code. Harvard's voluntary absence from the meeting made it hard for them to schedule games against other American universities.

The McGill University Rugby team of Montreal, Canada challenged Harvard to a series of football games. It was decided that both games would be played at Cambridge, the first game would be played according to Harvard's rules, and second game would be played according to McGill's rules.

McGill played a style more similar to rugby, and used an elongated ball.
 while Harvard played under a set of rules that allowed greater handling of the ball than soccer.
May 14 - Playing "Boston"-style, Harvard  won the first game 3 - 0,
May 15 - the second game played rugby style, ended in a 0 - 0 tie.
Still, the Harvard men agreed that the game was more fun when playing the McGill style ("Boston"-style).

They liked the hard hitting, the lateral passes, and the way that the elongated ball bounced unpredictably. Also, when a ball carrier busted through and crossed the goal line, he was awarded a "touchdown."

The Harvard players agreed to practice the McGill style and meat them again in the fall. This time Harvard beat McGill at their own game 3-0.

1875

November 13 - The first edition of The Game-the annual contest between Harvard and Yale-was played under a modified set of rugby rules known as "The Concessionary Rules" - a special set of rules agreed to in which each side gave up a little.
Yale lost 4 to 0, but found that it too preferred the rugby style game. Spectators from Princeton carried the game back home, where it also became popular

The first official game ball emerged. It was an egg-shaped, leather covered rugby ball. The field was reduced to 100 yards plus end zones. Teams played with 15 players on each side.

1876 

First Rules of Football

The first rules for American football were written during the Massasoit convention.

On November 23, 1876 representatives from Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, and Yale met at Massasoit House in Springfield, Massachusetts to decide on standard American rules, an event which became known as the Massasoit Convention. They adopted the Rugby Union rules in their entirety, except for two innovations: a touch-down in rugby only counted toward the score if neither side kicked a field goal. Princeton, Harvard, and Columbia agreed that four touchdowns would be worth one goal; in the event of a tied score, a goal converted from a touchdown would take precedence over four touch-downs.
The three colleges also founded the original Intercollegiate Football Association (IFA).
Yale did not join the group until 1879, due to an early disagreement about the number of players per team

Walter Camp first became involved with the game. Camp started attending Yale to study medicine and business. He played in the first Yale vs. Harvard rugby game that year. He was a smart man who had always been incredibly athletic. He is an important player in the history of football. He was instrumental in coming up with the rules for American football

Camp is credited with a lot of the football rules and scoring still used today. While he didn't invent football - it came about more by evolution - he is widely credited as
"The Father of Football."

1878

Camp became a fixture at the Massasoit House conventions where rules were debated and changed. He proposed his first rule change at the first meeting he attended in 1878: a reduction from fifteen players to eleven. The motion was rejected at that time but passed in 1880. The effect was to open up the game and emphasize speed over strength.


1880

Yale coach Walter Camp devised a number of major changes to the American game including some major breaks with the rugby tradition - beginning with the reduction of teams from 15 to 11 players, reduction of the field area by almost half (at 110 yards),  the introduction of the scrimmage and the snap from center to quarterback.  Originally, the snap was executed with the foot of the center. These changes made it possible to snap the ball with the hands, either through the air or by a direct hand-to-hand pass

1882

Walter Camp introduced the system of downs.
Camp's new scrimmage rules revolutionized the game, though not always as intended. Princeton, in particular, used scrimmage play to slow the game, making incremental progress towards the end zone during each down. Rather than increase scoring, which had been Camp's original intent, the rule was exploited to maintain control of the ball for the entire game, resulting in slow, unexciting contests. Until Camp came up with this gimmick, a team could sit on the ball for a whole game, playing for a tie. So long as the team didn't fumble, there wasn't much an opponent could do but yell nasty names. Camp's system of downs kept American football from dying of boredom.
At the 1882 rules meeting, Camp proposed that a team be required to advance the ball a minimum of five yards within three downs (a team had to surrender possession if they did not gain five yards after three downs (successful tackles),.
These down-and-distance rules, combined with the establishment of the line of scrimmage, transformed the game from a variation of rugby or soccer into the distinct sport of American football

 Camp also introduced the seven-man offensive line, plus a quarterback, two halfbacks and a fullback in the backfield, an arrangement which soon became the norm.

Camp created the quarterback position, the idea that one team should have undisputed possession of the ball at a time, strategic plays, the number of players, and other key positions. He was the first Yale football coach, and he was involved in every rulemaking convention and committee until his death in 1925.

1883

Several times Camp tinkered with the scoring rules, finally arriving at:

(4) four points for a touchdown
(2) two points for kicks after touchdowns
(2) two points for safeties
(5) five points for field goals.

1885

Here Come the Zebras

For the first time in football history, an official was used to regulate and referee games.

1887

John Heisman played football at Brown University 1887-1889.
John William Heisman - (October 23, 1869 – October 3, 1936) was a prominent American football player and college football coach in the early era of the sport and is the namesake of the Heisman Trophy awarded annually to the season's best college football player.

Gametime was set at two halves of 45 minutes each. 

Also in 1887, two paid officials-a referee and an umpire-were mandated for each game. 

1888

A standard opening play in the late 1880s was the "V-trick," forerunner of the flying wedge. On the kickoff, players surrounded the ball carrier in a rough V-formation, locked arms, and churned forward, trampling anyone who got in their way. The play invariably produced a long gain. But, when undefeated Princeton tried it against equally undefeated Yale in 1888, the Tigers got a surprise. A freshman Eli guard named William Walter Heffelfinger, but better known as "Pudge," ran straight to the point of the V. At the last split-second, he leaped into the air, cleared the astonished blockers, and landed his two-hundred-plus pounds squarely on top of the Princeton ball carrier. Splat! Yale went on to win 10-0.

Walter Camp was the first to fight for tackles as low as the knee as the rules were changed to allow tackling below the waist.
The unfortunate result of the change was it tended to make play more brutal and dull. Until then, teams used plenty of "open play," stressing laterals and backward passes (there was no forward passing allowed, of course) to the halfbacks who were set out wide like modern wingbacks. However, once it became legal to cut a man down at the knees -- often causing a lateral to sail untouched past his outstretched fingers -- teams moved the halfbacks in behind the line and concentrated on power instead of trickery.

1889

The Allegheny Athletic Association was founded

 . . . and the officials were given whistles and stopwatches

1890

The Allegheny Athletic Association which was founded in 1889 and fielded it's first football team in 1890 is  responsible in part for the start of Professionalism in the sport of Football.  At the time, the Allegheny Athletic Club was located in Allegheny which is just North of the Allegheny River.  The area is now known as Pittsburgh's North Side.  The A.A.A. or Three A's as they were referred to held a strong rivalry with the Pittsburgh Athletic Club (PAC) in the 1890's.

John Heisman played football at the University of Pennsylvania 1890-1891.

A padding "breakthrough" occurred in 1890 when Princeton's captain, Edgar A. Poe showed up for the Yale game wearing a nose guard, a piece of molded rubber covering the Poe proboscis. After much discussion over the novel device, he was allowed to play with a protected beak.
By 1898, some schools were equipping every player with a nose guard, usually with mouthpiece attached. 

1892

Football caught on among the general population and began to be the subject of intense competition and rivalry, albeit of a localized nature. In 1892 The Allegheny Athletic Association (AAA) was playing the Pittsburgh Athletic Club (PAC). Although payments to players were considered unsporting and dishonorable at the time, the AAA was so desperate to win this game that they found a guard who played for Yale and the All-America team and paid him to make sure they won.
 On November 12, William "Pudge" Heffelfinger became the first known professional football player. He was paid $500 (a huge amount at the time) to play in the game against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. Heffelfinger picked up a Pittsburgh fumble, and ran 25 yards for a touchdown, winning the game 4-0 for Allegheny. Although many observers held suspicions, the payment remained a secret for many years.
Absolute verification, in fact, did not become public for almost 80 years until the Pro Football Hall of Fame received and displayed a document - an expense accounting sheet of the Allegheny Athletic Association that clearly shows a "game performance bonus to W. Heffelfinger for playing (cash) $500. While it is possible that others were paid to play before 1892, the AAA expense sheet provides the first irrefutable evidence of an out-and-out cash payment. It is appropriately referred to today as "pro football's birth certificate."

John Heisman coached at Oberlin College.
It was only the second year of football at the school, but Heisman's team won all 7 of its games, including a victory over Michigan and two over Ohio State.

Glenn Scobey Warner (Pop Warner) attended and played football for Cornell University. As captain of the Cornell football team, he obtained the nickname "Pop" because he was older than most of his teammates.

No rule yet insisted that any particular number of men be on the line of scrimmage or that anyone be at a stop when the ball was snapped. Inevitably, teams found their way to mass and momentum plays -- such as the "flying wedge" -- wherein players were moved into the backfield to surround the ball carrier and everyone was at full gallop when the play started.
Amos Alonzo Stagg took the first steps in this direction with his "ends back" formation at Springfield in 1890. Pretty soon there was a "tackles back" and a "guards back" and so on. .

History of the Coin Toss

The coin toss has been a part of professional football since its start in 1892. 

1892-1920
Captains of each team handled the coin toss themselves.

1893

The Pittsburgh Athletic Club (PAC) wised up. They made a smarter decision than their rivals, The Allegheny Athletic Association (AAA) did in 1892, and signed the first player to a professional paid contract. The player, probably halfback Grant Dibert, had to play for Pittsburgh for the entire year.

Three years later, the Allegheny Athletic Association team fielded the first completely professional team for its abbreviated two-game schedule.

1894

From its earliest days as a mob game, football was a violent sport.

The 1894 Harvard-Yale game, known as the "Hampden Park Blood Bath", resulted in crippling injuries for four players; the contest was suspended until 1897.
The annual Army-Navy game was suspended from 1894-1898 for similar reasons.
 One of the major problems was the popularity of mass-formations like the flying wedge, in which a large number of offensive players charged as a unit against a similarly arranged defense. The resultant collisions often led to serious injuries and sometimes even death

1895

The nation's first college football league, the Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives (also known as the Western Conference), a precursor to the Big Ten Conference, was founded.

The first professional football game in the United States took place in 1895 in the town of Latrobe, Pennsylvania, between a team representing Latrobe and a team from Jeannette, Pennsylvania. In the following years many professional teams were formed, including the

Duquesnes of Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania; the Olympics of McKeesport,
Pennsylvania; the Bulldogs of Canton, Ohio;
and
the team of Massillon, Ohio.

Willie Heston (formerly at the University of Michigan),
Fritz Pollard (Brown University),
and
Jim Thorpe (Carlisle Indian School).

These of course are the first players, but they help define what it is that separates an Athletic club or a AAA amateur club from a Professional Football Team in the NFL, namely, that the players get paid money to play the game. Professional football began on November 12, 1892.

Early-day pro football historians agreed that a 16-year-old quarterback from Indiana College in Pennsylvania, John Brallier, had become the first pro football player when he accepted $10 and cakes" (expenses) to play for the Latrobe, PA, town team against neighboring Jeannette on September 3, 1895.

Pro Football Hall of Fame was opened in 1963 in Canton, further research uncovered the Pudge Heffelfinger payment by the Allegheny Athletic Association in 1892 and thus negated the Latrobe claim as the birthplace of pro football.

Today, Brallier is ranked no higher than seventh in line among the early-day players accepting pay to play.

Listed below are the first seven players known to have been openly paid to play football:

  • William "Pudge" Heffelfinger – Allegheny Athletic Association, Pittsburgh, – $500 for one game on November 12, 1892.

  • Ben "Sport" Donnelly – Allegheny Athletic Association, Pittsburgh – $250 for one game on November 19, 1892.

  • Peter Wright – Allegheny Athletic Association, Pittsburgh – $50 per game (under contract) for the entire 1893 season.

  • James Van Cleve – Allegheny Athletic Association, Pittsburgh – $50 per game (under contract) for the entire 1893 season.

  • Oliver W. Rafferty – Allegheny Athletic Association, Pittsburgh –  50 per game (under contract) for the entire 1893 season.

  • Lawson Fiscus – Greensburg, PA – $20 per game (under contract) for the entire 1894 season.

  • John Brallier – Latrobe, PA, – $10 and expenses for one game on September 3, 1895.

Pop Warner was hired by the University of Georgia as its new head football coach at a salary of $34 per week.
While at Georgia, Warner also coached Iowa State University. He coached teams from two schools simultaneously on three occasions: Iowa State and Georgia during the 1895 and 1896 seasons, Iowa State and Cornell in 1897 and 1898, and Iowa State and Carlisle in 1899

John W. Heisman was coaching at Auburn when he observed what would come to be known as a "forward pass" for the first time. Technically, the play was illegal. During a game between Georgia and North Carolina in 1895. Toward the end of the game, North Carolina, with its back to the goal, was forced to punt. The fullback retreated until the crossbar of his goal was just above his head. Georgia rushed him mercilessly, and in desperation, he lobbed the ball forward to one of his teammates, who caught it and ran for a touchdown." Though Georgia's coach, Pop Warner, disagreed with the decision, the referee held fast to the opinion that the fullback could have fumbled the ball, allowing the touchdown to count.
 Heisman realized almost immediately that such a pass could open up the field during a game, and wrote to Walter Camp who was then the chair of the rules committee, petitioning him to make it legal. After years of campaigning, and due to the rise of public opinion against football due to the compounding of serious injuries and death, Camp and his committee finally relented. In 1906 the forward pass was confirmed as a legal play in the game of football. In his later years writing for Collier's, a popular American magazine, especially during the 1920s and 1930s, Heisman recalled that with the change that one play brought, "American football had come over the line which divides the modern game from the old. Whether it was my contribution to football or Camp's is, perhaps, immaterial. Football had been saved from itself."


1896

Not to be outdone by The Pittsburgh Athletic Club (PAC) in 1893, the The Allegheny Athletic Association (AAA) decided to have the first completely pro team, but only played two games that season.

They went out of existence on their own terms fielding a team in defiance of the AAU's ban from their competing against other AAU members.

1897

The Latrobe Athletic Association paid all of its players for the whole season, becoming the first fully professional football team.

The history of football now goes pro. 

1898

A touchdown was changed from four points to five points.

ALSO

Some Historians would have you believe that the following took place in 1899, when in fact it is documented to have taken place in 1898 . . .

The longest running pro team began. The team began as a neighborhood group that gathered to play football in a predominantly Irish area of Chicago's South Side, playing under the name Morgan Athletic Club (presently known as The Arizona Cardinals). The team later was acquired by Chris O'Brien, a painting and decorating contractor, and soon its playing site changed to nearby Normal Field, prompting the new name Normals. Later became the Racine Cardinals (playing at 61st and Racine Streets ),
the Chicago Cardinals,

 the St. Louis Cardinals, the Phoenix Cardinals, and, in 1994, the Arizona Cardinals. The team remains the oldest continuing operation in pro football.

Though no longer a player, Walter Camp remained a fixture at annual rules meetings for most of his life.

It has been noted that Walter Camp gets the credit for inventing the All-America Team, but the mythical honor-eleven is one thing the "Father of American Football" did not sire.
 A gentleman named Caspar W. Whitney came up with the idea while writing for a small magazine called This Week's Sport in 1889. Whitney was a friend of Camp and may well have asked his advice on selections, but he was an authority on his own and published the first A.A. team under his own by-line.

In 1890, again for This Week's Sport, and from 1891 through 1896 for Harper's Weekly, Whitney continued to make his popular annual selections. Camp didn't get into the All-America business until 1897, when Whitney was off on a world sports tour. During the season, Camp sat in for Whitney at Harper's when it came time to immortalize another eleven athletes.

The next year, Whitney was back at Harper's and later he made selections for Outing Magazine. However, once Camp had made the plunge he liked the A.A. waters, for he began selecting teams for Collier's and continued to do so until his death in 1925.
 Camp's reputation was so great that fans soon forgot all about Caspar Whitney. Eventually, people began to assume that Camp had created the idea, just as many people think Henry Ford invented the automobile. Whether intentionally or not, Camp fostered the mistake by publishing Whitney's 1889-96 selections alongside his own later ones. Unfortunately, he neglected to include Whitney's name.

 The Walter Camp Foundation continues to select All-American teams in his honor.

1899

Pop Warner coached at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania from 1899-1903

1900

College football expanded greatly during the last two decades of the nineteenth century. In 1880, only eight universities fielded intercollegiate teams, but by 1900, the number had expanded to 43.
Several major rivalries date from this time period, including
 Army-Navy (1890), 
Minnesota-Wisconsin (1890),
the Border Showdown between Kansas-Missouri (1891),
California-Stanford's Big Game (football) (1892),
the Iron Bowl between Alabama-Auburn (1893),
Michigan-Ohio State (1897).

William C. Temple took over the team payments for the Duquesnes Country and Athletic Club, becoming the first known individual club owner.

Star players that emerged in the early twentieth century include Jim Thorpe, Red Grange, and Bronko Nagurski; these three made the transition to the fledgling NFL and helped turn it into a successful league.

1901

The Panhandles were originally formed by the Pennsylvania Railroad Athletic Association in Columbus.

1902

Baseball's Philadelphia Athletics, managed by Connie Mack, and the Philadelphia Phillies formed professional football teams, joining the Pittsburgh Stars in the first attempt at a pro football league, named the National Football League (not the same as the modern NFL league) .
November 21 - The Athletics won the first night football game ever played, 39-0 over Kanaweola AC at Elmira, New York.

All three teams claimed the pro championship for the year, but the league president, Dave Berry, named the Stars the champions. Pitcher Rube Waddell was with the Athletics, and pitcher Christy Mathewson a fullback for Pittsburgh.

The first World Series of pro football, actually a five-team tournament, was played among a team made up of players from both the Athletics and the Phillies, but simply named New York; the New York Knickerbockers; the Syracuse AC; the Warlow AC; and the Orange (New Jersey) AC at New York's original Madison Square Garden. New York and Syracuse played the first indoor football game before 3,000, December 28. Syracuse, with Glen (Pop) Warner at guard, won 6-0 and went on to win the tournament.

1903

The Franklin (Pa.) Athletic Club won the second and last World Series of pro football over the Oreos Athletic Club of Asbury Park, New Jersey; the Watertown Red and Blacks; and the Orange Athletic Club.

Pro football was popularized in Ohio when the Massillon Tigers, a strong amateur team, hired four Pittsburgh pros to play in the season-ending game against Akron. At the same time, pro football declined in the Pittsburgh area, and the emphasis on the pro game moved west from Pennsylvania to Ohio.

John Heisman was named the Georgia Tech football coach.  

1904

A field goal was changed from five points to four points.

Ohio had at least seven pro teams, with Massillon winning the Ohio Independent Championship, that is, the pro title. Talk surfaced about forming a state-wide league to end spiraling salaries brought about by constant bidding for players and to write universal rules for the game. The feeble attempt to start the league failed.

The Canton Athletic Club was organized in November of 1904 to operate baseball and football teams, but the emphasis was on football and the goal was to beat the Massillon Tigers, who had won two straight Ohio championships.


The First Black (African-American) Pro Football Player

It seems unclear throughout The Internet as to the dates for Charles Follis becoming The First Black (African-American) Pro Football Player.

Some Websites claim:
The first known African-American to play pro football was Charles Follis, with the Shelby Athletic Club in 1902.

while other Websites claim:
Charles W. Follis, first African American to play professional football April 10th 1910

Upon Research into the actual date, these facts were found in:
Biographical Dictionary of American Sports
Football
edited by David L. Porter

FOLLIS, Charles W. "The Black Cyclone" professional athlete, became football's first black (African-American) pro when he signed to play for the Shelby (OH) Athletic Club under manager Frank Schiffer in 1904.
Many historians have, however, indicated Charles "Doc" Baker of the Akron (OH) Indians (1906-1908) or Henry McDonald of Rochester (NY) in 1911 as the first black (African-American) pro.

Pop Warner, coach of the Carlisle Pennsylvania Indian School football team, sees Jim Thorpe playing around with some other boys on the track. Warner invites Thorpe to watch football practice.

After a few minutes, Thorpe tells Warner that he can't be tackled. Thorpe takes the ball and begins running up and down the field, knocking some would be tacklers over, and leaving others in his dust.

A Native American member of Oklahoma's Sac and Fox Tribe, Thorpe transforms the nothing school into one of the country's football juggernauts. Thorpe can do everything on the football field better than any player ever has.

Even though Carlisle defeated such football powers as Harvard, Penn, Lehigh, and Army, it is never ranked in the college football polls because of its status as a vocational school rather than a college.

Thorpe went on to lead the Canton Bulldogs to the 
1916 pro football championship.

1905

The Canton Athletic Club, later to become known as the Bulldogs, became a professional team. Massillon again won the Ohio League championship.

To bolster its team, Canton hired seven players away from the Akron Athletic Club, including player-coach Bill Laub. For the game against Massillon, they added even more outside players, including halfback Willie Heston. A three-time All-American, Heston had scored somewhere between 90 and 100 touchdowns for the University of Michigan. Reportedly, he was paid $600 for that one game, but Massillon held him in check and won again, 14-4.

 In the early 1900s college football games were popular sports spectacles,
but the professional game attracted limited public support. 
College games were extremely rough, and in 1905, 18 college football deaths are reported and well over 100 serious injuries. The public was outraged, and there was even a White House conference. President Teddy Roosevelt calls on representatives from Yale, Harvard, and Princeton at mid-season and tells them he will abolish the sport if it doesn't become safer.

December 28 - 62 schools met in New York City to discuss rule changes to make the game safer. As a result of this meeting, the Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the United States, later named the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), was formed

There were more safety precautions and equipment after this point.
Under the leadership of Walter Camp, the teams establish new rules to open the game up.
As a result, football authorities revamped the game, and many of the rougher tactics were outlawed.
Obviously, a lot more pads are worn now, and football helmets are required. A neutral zone is established, linemen have to play on the line, games are shortened from 70 to 60 minutes, and another official is added.
From this committee came the legalization of the forward pass. One of the pioneers of the forward pass was John W. Heisman of which The Heisman Trophy was named after and Coach Pop Warner who still today has youth football leagues endorsed with his name.
Along with the introduction of the forward pass came the ban of the wedge formation. The wedge was a popular formation, which included Princeton's "V-formation wedge," Harvard's "flying wedge" and Yale's "tackles back" formation. Also prohibited was the locking of arms by teammates in an effort to clear the way for their ball carriers.

College coaches such as Amos Alonzo Stagg, Pop Warner, Bob Zuppke, and Knute Rockne developed many of the early offensive techniques and play formations. Following very few historical precedents, these men invented unique strategies that changed the nature of football forever.
Alonzo Stagg was instrumental in developing the between-the-legs snap from center to quarterback, the player in motion in the backfield before the snap of the ball, the onsides kick, the early T-formation, the huddle, the tackling dummy and many other innovations.
Knute Rockne introduced the "shift", with the backfield lining up in a T formation and then quickly shifting into a box formation to the left or right just as the ball was snapped. It remained a staple in the Notre Dame playbook until it was discarded by Frank Leahy in 1942 in favor of the T.

1906

The forward pass was legalized. The first authenticated pass completion in a pro game came on October 27, when George (Peggy) Parratt of Massillon threw a completion to Dan (Bullet) Riley in a victory over a combined Benwood-Moundsville team.
Initially the first forward pass happened in 1895.

Pop Warner unbalanced his line, placing four players on one side of the center and two on the other side, while shifting the backfield into a wing formation. The quarterback functioned as a blocker, set close behind the line and a yard wide of the center. At the same depth, but outside the line, was the wingback. Deep in the backfield was the tailback, who received most of the snaps, and in front and to the side was the fullback. This formation became known as the single-wing, and it remained football’s basic formation until the 1940s.

Sometime during the 1906 season, the Canton team became known as the Bulldogs. The squad had been further improved through the addition of four former Massillon players.

Arch-rivals Canton and Massillon, the two best pro teams in America, played twice, with Canton winning the first game but Massillon winning the second and the Ohio League championship. A betting scandal and the financial disaster wrought upon the two clubs by paying huge salaries caused a temporary decline in interest in pro football in the two cities and, somewhat, throughout Ohio.

The Massillon newspaper reported that Canton coach Blondy Wallace had tried to bribe some Massillon players to throw the game. When that failed, the story continued, Wallace had decided to throw the game the other way. The report was probably groundless, but it helped to kill football in both Canton and Massillon for some years. An even bigger factor may have been the amount of money the team spent on players.

1907

Pop Warner returned to Cornell for three seasons, and returned again to Carlisle in 1907.
During his second tenure at Carlisle, Warner coached one of the most famous American athletes, Jim Thorpe.

1909

A field goal dropped from four points to three points.

1911

A new team, called the Canton Professionals, was organized. Despite the name, it was made up entirely of local players and the pay was undoubtedly small.

1912

A touchdown was increased from five points to six points.

Some Historians would have you believe that the following took place in 1912, when in fact it is documented to have taken place in 1915 . . .

Jack Cusack, pro football pioneer revived a strong pro team in Canton, The Canton Bulldogs).

See 1915


1913

Jim Thorpe, a former football and track star at the Carlisle Indian School (Pa.) and a double gold medal winner at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, played for the Pine Village Pros in Indiana.

Knute Rockne is considered to be the father of the forward pass in football.
Rockne was not the first coach to use the forward pass, but he helped popularize it, especially on the East Coast. Most football historians agree that a few schools, notably Saint Louis University, Michigan, and Minnesota, had passing attacks in place.
  Few of the major Eastern teams used the pass, however. In the summer of 1913, while he was a life guard on the beach at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, Rockne and his college teammate and roommate Gus Dorais worked on passing techniques. That fall, Notre Dame upset heavily favored Army, 35-13, at West Point thanks to a barrage of Dorais-to-Rockne passes. The game played an important role in displaying the potency of the forward pass and "open offense" and convinced many coaches to consider adding a few pass plays to their play books.

1914

Pop Warner was hired by the University of Pittsburgh, where he coached his teams to 33 straight major wins and three national championships (1915, 1916 and 1918). He coached Pittsburgh from 1915 to 1923 to a 60-12-4 record.

In 1914, the first roughing-the-passer penalty was implemented


1915

Massillon made the first move to strengthen its team, hiring several players away from the Akron Pros and Canton followed suit by signing most of the other Akron players. Jack Cusack, who had become manager of the Canton team,


 also restored the old Bulldog name.

As the first of two Canton-Massillon games approached, Cusack scored a major coup by signing the great Jim Thorpe for $250 a game. However, Thorpe played only sparingly in the first game, at Massillon, and the Tigers won, 16-0. For the second game, Thorpe took over as coach, played the entire game, and kicked two field goals in a 6-0 win.

Even after the formation of The NCAA in 1905 to establish safety in the organization of Football relating to serious injuries and deaths; it is evident that the game of football remains a serious safety factor as it is indicated in the "The Cleveland Plain Dealer" newspaper.
Click on image to enlarge

Reprinted from The Cleveland Plain Dealer


1916

Canton became much stronger when Cusack brought in a number of players including former Carlisle teammate Pete Calac to complement Thorpe. The Bulldogs went undefeated (9-0-1), beat Massillon 24-0. Won the Ohio League championship, and was acclaimed the pro football champion.


The Akron Burkhardts were formed, that played in Akron, Ohio were named after a local family of brewers that sponsored the team.

1917

Most teams, including Canton and Massillon, sat out the 1918 season because of World War I and the influenza epidemic. In the meantime, Jack Cusack left Canton for the oil business in Oklahoma and Ralph Hay took command of the The Canton Bulldogs.

The Akron Burkhardts competed as the Akron Pros.

1918

In 1918, the rules on eligible receivers were loosened to allow eligible players to catch the ball anywhere on the field-previously strict rules were in place only allowing passes to certain areas of the field.

1919

Canton again won the Ohio League championship, despite the team having been turned over from Cusack to Ralph Hay. Thorpe and Calac were joined in the backfield by Joe Guyon.

Earl (Curly) Lambeau and George Calhoun organized

 the Green Bay Packers. Lambeau's employer at the Indian Packing Company provided $500 for equipment and allowed the team to use the company field for practices. The Packers went 10-1.

1920


The 1920 NFL season was the 1st regular season of the National Football League.

Over the last twenty years, chaos grew. Salaries were rising, and the players were abandoning teams and contracts and running to the highest bidder. College players were playing both college and pro, teams were disbanding and forming throughout every season, and the sport lacked organization.

 August 20 - A league in which all the members would follow the same rules seemed the answer.
An organizational meeting, at which the

Akron Pros (formerly known as The Akron Bruokhardts),
Canton Bulldogs,
Cleveland Tigers,
and
Dayton Triangles

were represented, was held at the Jordan and Hupmobile auto showroom in Canton, Ohio. This meeting resulted in the formation of the
American Professional Football Conference (APFC).

The teams pledged not to use any student player who still had college eligibility left, as the goodwill of the colleges was believed to be essential to the survival of the professional league.

 September 17 - A second organizational meeting was held in Canton, The teams were from four states -

Chicago Cardinals(APFA) Head Coach was Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback, John Leo "Paddy" Driscoll  from 1920 to 1922.

The name of the league was changed to the
American Professional Football Association (APFA) -
*the birth of the National Football League.
(It would not be changed to National Football League until 1922).

September 17 - The Decatur Staleys (later be recognized as The Chicago Bears) were made a charter member of the NFL


Footballs First President

Hoping to capitalize on his fame, the members elected Jim Thorpe of the Bulldogs as APFA's first president, solely because he was the most famous name in the game.

Stanley Cofall of Cleveland was elected vice president. A membership fee of $100 per team was charged to give an appearance of respectability, but no team ever paid it. Scheduling was left up to the teams, and there were wide variations, both in the overall number of games played and in the number played against APFA member teams.

Four other teams
joined the league sometime during the year. 

The Chicago Tigers played only in the first year of the league.
The Tigers' main claim to fame is that they helped start the tradition of playing on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1920, when they were defeated by the Decatur Staleys (later the Chicago Bears).

On September 26, the first game featuring an APFA team was played at Rock Island's Douglas Park. A crowd of 800 watched the Independents defeat the St. Paul Ideals 48-0. A week later, October 3, the first game matching two APFA teams was held. At Triangle Park, Dayton defeated Columbus 14-0, with Lou Partlow of Dayton scoring the first touchdown in a game between Association teams. The same day, Rock Island defeated Muncie 45-0.

By the beginning of December, most of the teams in the APFA had abandoned their hopes for a championship, and some of them, including the Chicago Tigers and the Detroit Heralds, had finished their seasons, disbanded, and had their franchises canceled by the Association.
 Four teams:

Akron
Buffalo
Canton
and
Decatur

still had championship aspirations, but a series of late-season games among them left Akron as the only undefeated team in the Association. At one of these games, Akron sold tackle Bob Nash to Buffalo for $300 and five percent of the gate receipts-the first APFA player deal.

The Official NFL website (found at http://www.nfl.com/) claims The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the ONLY undefeated team in NFL history. Yet in their chronicles they claim the NFL was established in 1920, then why do they fail to mention any of the following teams going undefeated?

1920 Akron is the only undefeated team in the Association.
1922 The Canton Bulldogs were named the 1922 NFL Champions after ending the season with a 10-0-2 record.
1923 Canton had its second consecutive undefeated season, going 11-0-1 for the NFL title.
1942 The Bears finish the season 11-0
1948 The Cleveland Browns won their third straight championship in the AAFC, going 15-0 makes them the first team to experience a perfect season

The American Professional Football Association was officially organized to begin play in the fall. 

Here are the original teams:

• Akron Professionals 
• Buffalo All-Americans
• Canton Bulldogs 
• Chicago Cardinals 
• Chicago Tigers
• Cleveland Tigers 
• Columbus Panhandles
• Dayton Triangles 
• Decatur Staleys 
• Detroit Heralds
• Hammond Pros
• Muncie Flyers
• Rochester (N.Y.) Jeffersons
• Rock Island Independents 

Women became active in cheerleading in the 1920s.
The University of Minnesota cheerleaders began to incorporate gymnastics and tumbling into their cheers

1921

The 1921 NFL season was the 2nd regular season of the National Football League
(then called the American Professional Football Association).

April 30 - At the league meeting in Akron, the championship of the 1920 season was awarded to the Akron Pros. The APFA was reorganized, with Joe Carr of the Columbus Panhandles named president and Carl Storck of Dayton secretary-treasurer. Carr moved the Association's headquarters to Columbus, drafted a league constitution and by-laws, gave teams territorial rights, restricted player movements, developed membership criteria for the franchises. The league would play under the then-rules of college football, and official standings were issued for the first time so that there would be a clear champion.
The distinction between "league games" and "non-league" games seems to have begun in 1921 when standings were finally kept. In 1920, all games apparently counted. For the record, however, the only accepted members of the APFA were Canton, Akron, Cleveland, Dayton, and Columbus in Ohio, the short-lived Muncie Flyers and Hammond in Indiana, the Tigers and Racine Cardinals, both of Chicago, the Decatur (Ill.) Staleys, Rochester and Buffalo in New York, and the Detroit Heralds.

The Association's membership increased to 22 teams, including the Green Bay Packers, who were awarded to John Clair of the Acme Packing Company.

A number of teams had financial difficulties. Some of the teams that played during the previous season, including the Chicago Tigers, had disbanded. The Association did increase to 22 teams, but 4 teams (Brickley's New York Giants, the Cincinnati Celts, the Tonawanda Kardex, and the Washington Senators) could only last just this year. The Muncie Flyers also disbanded after the season, and even though the Cleveland Tigers changed their name to the Cleveland Indians, it still did not help them from folding after the season too.

October 16, Jim Conzelman takes over as coach of Rock Island Independents from Frank Coughlin-only mid-game coaching change in NFL history.


December 4 - The First Forfeited Game
Washington Senators were awarded the contest by Referee C.A. Metsler when the Rochester Jeffersons refused to take the field on account of weather conditions. The visiting team, had all of the advertised stars on hand, but would not risk their injuring themselves on account of slipping on the snow-covered field.
The contract signed by the visitors contains a clause to the effect "that if both teams have arrived on the field of play, and it is found that said field is too wet for play, the question of cancellation shall rest solely with the manager of the home team."
As Manager Jordan had his Washington team on hand, and felt that he should not disappoint the 400 or so faithful fans who were on hand. In view of the Jeffs' refusal to take the field, there was nothing left for Referee Metsler to do but give the locals the game, 1 to 0.
So how come the game doesn't show up in the record book? 

Teams that fold between 1921 and 1922 seasons:

New York Brickleys Giants
Washington Senators
Tonawanda Kardex
Cleveland Tigers
Muncie Flyers
Cincinnati Celts
Detroit Heralds

The Detroit Heralds was reorganized and renamed the Tigers, after the major league baseball team, in 1921, but things didn't get any better. After a win and a tie in their first two games, the Tigers lost the next five, along with a lot of money. Some players quit because they didn't get paid and the team folded before playing out its schedule.

Teams that join the APFA for the 1921 season:

Detroit Heralds became the Detroit Tigers.
Green Bay Packers
Cincinnati Celts (play 1921 season only)
Minneapolis Marines
Evansville Crimson Giants
Tonawanda Kardex (AKA Lumbermen - play 1921 season only)
Washington Senators (play 1921 season only)
New York Brickleys Giants (play 1921 season only)
Louisville Brecks

Player-coach Fritz Pollard of the Akron Pros became the first black (African-American) head coach.
Thorpe moved from Canton to the Cleveland Indians, but he was hurt early in the season and played very little.

A.E. Staley turned the Decatur Staleys over to player-coach George Halas, who moved the team to Cubs Park in Chicago. Staley paid Halas $5,000 to keep the name Staleys for one more year. Halas made halfback Ed (Dutch) Sternaman his partner.
George Halas coached the Bears at four different times
(1920-1929  -  1933-1942  -  1946-1955  -  1958-1967)

The Staleys claimed the APFA championship with a 9-1-1 record, as did Buffalo at 9-1-2. Carr ruled in favor of the Staleys, giving Halas his first championship Champions (they had one fewer tie game than the Buffalo All-Americans).

History of the Coin Toss

The coin toss has been a part of professional football since its start in 1892.  While the procedure has been relatively unchanged over the years, the following is a history of change made to the pre-game procedure.

Previously: Captains of each team handled the coin toss themselves.

Change: The referee performed the toss.

1922

After admitting the use of players who had college eligibility remaining during the 1921 season, Clair and the Green Bay management withdrew from the APFA, January 28. Curly Lambeau promised to obey league rules and then used $50 of his own money to buy back the franchise. Bad weather and low attendance plagued the Packers, and Lambeau went broke, but local merchants arranged a $2,500 loan for the club. A public nonprofit corporation was set up to operate the team, with Lambeau as head coach and manager.


 June 24 - The American Professional Football Association officially changed their name to the
 National Football League
 and is the 3rd regular season.

The NFL fielded 18 teams during the season, including new league teams such as the Green Bay Packers, the Milwaukee Badgers, the new Oorang Indians of Marion, Ohio, an all-Indian team featuring Thorpe, Joe Guyon, and Pete Calac, and sponsored by the Oorang dog kennels. Also included were the Racine Legion, and the Toledo Maroons.

Meanwhile the Chicago Staleys changed their name to the Chicago Bears after it moved from Decatur to Chicago in 1921.

November 27 - The Chicago Bears went on to make the NFL's first player transaction by purchasing tackle Ed Healey's contract from the Rock Island Independents for $100.

The Canton Bulldogs, led by player-coach Guy Chamberlin and tackles Link Lyman and Wilbur (Pete) Henry, emerged as the league's first true powerhouse and were named the 1922 NFL Champions after ending the season with a 10-0-2 record.

The Official NFL website (found at http://www.nfl.com/) claims The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the ONLY undefeated team in NFL history. Yet in their chronicles they claim the NFL was established in 1920, then why do they fail to mention any of the following teams going undefeated?

1920 Akron is the only undefeated team in the Association.
1922 The Canton Bulldogs were named the 1922 NFL Champions after ending the season with a 10-0-2 record.
1923 Canton had its second consecutive undefeated season, going 11-0-1 for the NFL title.
1942 The Bears finish the season 11-0
1948 The Cleveland Browns won their third straight championship in the AAFC, going 15-0 makes them the first team to experience a perfect season

Teams that join the NFL for the 1922 season: 

Milwaukee Badgers
Marion Oorang Indians
Racine Legion
Toledo Maroons

Teams that fold between the 1922 and 1923 seasons:

Evansville Crimson Giants
Columbus Panhandles
After the 1922 season, Columbus Panhandles franchise owner Joe F. Carr discontinued the franchise because of cost and salary demands.

1923

The 1923 NFL season was the 4th regular season of the National Football League.

 For the first time, all of the franchises considered to be part of the NFL fielded teams. Thorpe played first for Oorang, then for the Toledo Maroons. Against the Bears, Thorpe fumbled, and Halas picked up the ball and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown, a record that would last until 1972.

Coach Zuppke ran single- and double-wing formations at the University of Illinois, often sending four or five receivers downfield in pass patterns. At Notre Dame in 1923 and 1924, Rockne instituted his famous Four Horsemen offense. Rockne set up the backs in a four-square, box alignment on one side. Then, in what was called the Notre Dame Shift, the backs would shift out of the box and into a single or double wing.

Canton had its second consecutive undefeated season, going 11-0-1 for the NFL title.

The Official NFL website (found at http://www.nfl.com/) claims The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the ONLY undefeated team in NFL history. Yet in their chronicles they claim the NFL was established in 1920, then why do they fail to mention any of the following teams going undefeated?

1920 Akron is the only undefeated team in the Association.
1922 The Canton Bulldogs were named the 1922 NFL Champions after ending the season with a 10-0-2 record.
1923 Canton had its second consecutive undefeated season, going 11-0-1 for the NFL title.
1942 The Bears finish the season 11-0
1948 The Cleveland Browns won their third straight championship in the AAFC, going 15-0 makes them the first team to experience a perfect season


Teams that enter the NFL for the 1923 season: 

Duluth Kelleys
St. Louis All-Stars (play only the 1923 season)
A New Cleveland Indians (play only the 1923 season)
Columbus Tigers
After the "Panhandles" folded in 1922, a new team was organized by local businessmen called the Columbus Tigers and played from 1923-1926.

NFL teams that fold between the 1923 and 1924 seasons: 

Canton Bulldogs
Cleveland Indians
Louisville Brecks
Marion Oorang Indians
Racine Legion
St. Louis All-Stars
Toledo Maroons

1924

The 1924 NFL season was the 5th regular season of the National Football League.

The league had 18 franchises, including new ones in Kansas City (Kansas City Blues), Kenosha (Kenosha Maroons),
and Frankford, a section of Philadelphia 
frankford jellow jackets 1924
(Frankford Yellow Jackets).
Though the Frankford Yellow Jackets origin goes back perhaps as far as 1899. Its home was Yellow Jacket Field in Frankford, a section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, located in the northeastern part of the city, noted chiefly for the elevated subway line that terminates there. The Yellow Jackets won the NFL title in 1926, and were co-founded and co-owned throughout their existence by Bert Bell and Lud Wray

Before the season, the owner of the now-defunct Cleveland Indians bought the Canton Bulldogs and "mothballed" it, taking the team's nickname and players to Cleveland for the season. The new team, the Cleveland Bulldogs, won the 1924 NFL title with a 7-1-1 record.

Buffalo All-Americans change their name to Buffalo Bisons
buffalo bisons 1924 football 

Teams that join the NFL for the 1924 season: 

Cleveland Bulldogs
Frankford Yellow Jackets
Kansas City Blues
Kenosha Maroons (play 1924 season only)

Teams that fold between the 1924 and 1925 seasons: 

Louisville Brecks
Oorang Indians
St. Louis All Stars
Toledo Maroons
Cleveland Indians
Kenosha Maroons
Minneapolis Marines
Columbus Tigers

1925

The 1925 NFL season was the 6th regular season of the National Football League.

Five new franchises were admitted to the NFL

1. The New York Giants,

who were awarded to Tim Mara and Billy Gibson for $500 on August 1;

2. The Detroit Panthers, featuring Jimmy Conzelman as owner, coach, and tailback;
3. the Providence Steam Roller;
4. a new Canton Bulldogs team (which the NFL considers this 1925-1926 Canton Bulldogs to be the same team as the 1920-1923 team.);

5. and the Pottsville Maroons, who had been perhaps the most successful independent pro team.

The NFL established its first player limit, at 16 players.

Strategically, the early NFL game was hardly distinguishable from college football of the time. There was no attempt to break away from college playbooks or rulebooks, and for several years the NFL followed the NCAA Rules Committee recommendations. In the league’s early years, players considered the low-paying NFL a part-time job and held other jobs during the day. Thus, while college coaches could drill their players daily for hours, professional football coaches arranged practices in the evenings, sometimes only three or four times a week.

Late in the season, the NFL made its greatest coup in gaining national recognition. Shortly after the University of Illinois season ended in November, The legendary All-America halfback Harold (Red) Grange made his professional debut and signed a contract to play with the Chicago Bears. On Thanksgiving Day, a crowd of 36,000-the largest in pro football history-watched Grange and the Bears play the cross-town rival Chicago Cardinals
chicago cardinals football
 to a scoreless tie at Wrigley Field.
Thereafter, professional football attracted larger numbers of first-rate college players, and the increased patronage made the league economically viable.

At the beginning of December, the Bears left on a barnstorming tour that saw them play eight games in 12 days, in St. Louis, Philadelphia, New York City, Washington, Boston, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Chicago. A crowd of 73,000 watched the game against the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, helping assure the future of the troubled NFL franchise in New York. The Bears then played nine more games in the South and West, including a game in Los Angeles, in which 75,000 fans watched them defeat the Los Angeles Tigers in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

March 14 - Walter Camp died

1925 NFL Championship controversy

Controversy surrounds who actually won the 1925 NFL Championship.
 Officially, the Chicago Cardinals are listed as the 1925 NFL champions because they finished with the best record. But many Pottsville fans claim that the Maroons are really the champions. The Maroons and the Cardinals were the top contenders for the title, with Pottsville winning a late-season meeting between them, 21-7. But the Maroons scheduled a game against a team of University of Notre Dame All-Stars in Philadelphia (and winning 9-7) on the same day that the Frankford Yellow Jackets were scheduled to play a game in the same city. Frankford protested, saying that it was violating their protected territory rights.

Although NFL president Joe Carr warned the Maroons in writing that they faced suspension if they played in Philadelphia, the Maroons claim that Carr approved the game during a telephone call, and played anyway. In response, Carr fined the club, suspended it from all league rights and privileges (including the right to play for the NFL championship), and re-turned its franchise to the league.

*In 2003 the NFL decided to again examine the case regarding the 1925 championship. But in October the NFL voted 30-2 not to reopen the case. Thus the Cardinals are still listed as the 1925 NFL champions.

The Kansas City Blues change their name to the Kansas City Cowboys

The Canton Bulldogs re-enter the NFL after an inactive 1924 season

Racine Legion is inactive for 1925 season

Teams that join the NFL for the 1925 season: 

New York Giants
Providence Steam Roller
Pottsville Maroons
Detroit Panthers 
a new Canton Bulldogs

Teams that fold between the 1925 and 1926 seasons: 

 Kenosha Maroons
Minneapolis Marines
Cleveland Bulldogs
Rochester Jeffersons
and with Racine Legion mothballing.

The Rock Island Independents leave the NFL for the rival AFL at end of the season.

 

1926

The 1926 NFL season was the 7th regular season of the National Football League


The First AFL

Grange's manager, C.C. Pyle, told the Bears that Grange wouldn't play for them unless he was paid a five-figure salary and given one-third ownership of the team. The Bears refused. Pyle leased Yankee Stadium in New York City, then petitioned for an NFL franchise. After he was refused, he started the first American Football League. It lasted one season and included Grange's New York Yankees and eight other teams. The AFL champion Philadelphia Quakers
phillidelhia 1926 football
 played a December game against the New York Giants, seventh in the NFL, and the Giants won 31-0. At the end of the season, the AFL folded.

Halas pushed through a rule that prohibited any team from signing a player whose college class had not graduated.

The NFL grew to 22 teams, including the Duluth Eskimos, who signed All-America fullback Ernie Nevers of Stanford, giving the league a gate attraction to rival Grange. The 15-member Eskimos, dubbed the Iron Men of the North, played 29 exhibition and league games, 28 on the road, and Nevers played in all but 29 minutes of them.

Frankford edged the Bears for the championship, despite Halas having obtained John (Paddy) Driscoll from the Cardinals. On December 4, the Yellow Jackets scored in the final two minutes to defeat the Bears 7-6 and move ahead of them in the standings.

The Buffalo Bisons change their name to the Buffalo Rangers

Teams that join the NFL for the 1926 season: 

Hartford Blues
Los Angeles Buccaneers
Brooklyn Lions
The  Brooklyn Lions was formed as the NFL countermove to the original American Football League, which also planned to field a team in Brooklyn called the Brooklyn Horsemen.
In the months before the regular season began, both leagues battled with each other for fan support and the right to play at Ebbets Field. The NFL emerged as the winner, as the Lions signed the lease to use the stadium on July 20.
Neither the Lions or the Horseman had much success. In fact, both teams merged just after four games into the regular season.
The team finished the NFL season as the Brooklyn Lions.
But both the Lions and the Horsemen folded following the season.

The Akron Pros change their name to the Akron Indians,
which had been an earlier Akron semi-pro team.
The Racine Tornadoes (formerly the Racine Legion) re-enter the NFL.
The Duluth Kelleys become the Duluth Eskimos
The Louisville Colonels (formerly the Louisville Brecks) re-enter the NFL as a road team out of Chicago.

Teams that fold between the 1926 and 1927 seasons: 

Kansas City Cowboys
Los Angeles Buccaneers
Buffalo Rangers
Detroit Panthers
Hartford Blues
Brooklyn Lions
Milwaukee Badgers
Akron Indians
(formerly the Akron Pros / Akron Burkhardts)
Racine Tornadoes
Columbus Tigers
Canton Bulldogs
Hammond Pros
Louisville Colonels

1927

The 1927 NFL season was the 8th regular season of the National Football League

At a special meeting in Cleveland, April 23, Carr decided to secure the NFL's future by eliminating the financially weaker teams and consolidating the quality players onto a limited number of more successful teams. The new-look NFL dropped to 12 teams, and the center of gravity of the league left the Midwest, where the NFL had started, and began to emerge in the large cities of the East. One of the new teams was Grange's New York Yankees, but Grange suffered a knee injury and the Yankees finished in the middle of the pack.

The New York Giants  won their first NFL Championship with an 11-1-1 record
The cross-town rival New York Giants posted 10 shutouts in 13 games.

Teams that join the NFL for the 1927 season: 

Cleveland Bulldogs (play only the 1927 season)
New York Yankees were added from the American Football League
and Buffalo Rangers returned to the Buffalo Bisons name.

Teams that fold between the 1927 and 1928 seasons: 

Buffalo Bison
Cleveland Bulldogs
Duluth Eskimos
Akron Indians
(formerly the Akron Pros / Akron Burkhardts)
Kansas City Cowboys
Los Angeles Buccaneers
Detroit Panthers
Hartford Blues
Brooklyn Lions
Canton Bulldogs
Milwaukee Badgers
Racine Tornadoes
Columbus Tigers
Hammond Pros
and Louisville Colonels.

 

1928

The 1928 NFL season was the 9th regular season of the National Football League.

 Grange and Nevers both retired from pro football, and Duluth disbanded, as the NFL was reduced to only 10 teams.
Experiencing financial problems, the Buffalo Rangers did not participate in league play.

The Providence Steam Roller of Jimmy Conzelman and Pearce Johnson won the championship, playing in the Cycledrome, a 10,000-seat oval that had been built for bicycle races.

Providence Steam Roller - the team, which played in a stadium made primarily for bike racing, hold the distinction of being the last team to win an NFL title (1928) that is no longer part of the league.


The Detroit Wolverines are granted an NFL franchise but play only the 1928 season
(the Wolverines have the best lifetime winning percentage (.778) of any franchise in NFL history)

The New York Yankees fold at end of the season

1929

The 1929 NFL season was the 10th regular season of the National Football League. The league increased back to 12 teams.

 July 27 - Chris O'Brien sold the Chicago Cardinals to David Jones.

July 28 - The NFL added a fourth official, the field judge

November 28 - Chicago Cardinals running back Ernie Nevers scores an NFL record 40 points. He rushes for an NFL record six touchdowns and adds four extra points to tally all of the Cardinals' points in their 40-6 victory over the Chicago Bears.

Grange and Nevers returned to the NFL. Nevers scored six rushing touchdowns and four extra points as the Cardinals beat Grange's Bears 40-6, November 28. The 40 points set a record that remains the NFL's oldest.


First NFL Night Game

According to NFL.com 
November 3 - Providence became the first NFL team to host a game at night under floodlights, against the Cardinals

The Chicago Cardinals defeated the Providence Steam Roller, 16-0.

The Steam Roller’s game under floodlights was actually the second game of a four-games-in-six-days fiasco. Providence had originally scheduled to play the Chicago Cardinals on Sunday, November 3, 1929, but heavy rains made the Cyclodrome field unplayable. Since neither team wanted to lose a payday, the historic night game was hastily scheduled for November 6 at nearby Kinsley Park Stadium, where floodlights recently had been installed.

Although the Steam Roller lost 16-0, the game was declared a  success because 6,000 fans attended. The local newspaper reported that the ball, which had been painted white for the night game, "had the appearance of a large egg," and whenever either team passed, "there was a panicky feeling that the player who made the catch would be splattered with yellow yolk." The floodlights, the newspaper concluded were "just as good as daylight for the players.” The next year, floodlights were permanently installed in the Cyclodrome.

 November 3 or November 6
or
September 24th, 1930
CAN ANYBODY VERIFY THIS DATE?

 
The Greenbay Packers added back Johnny "Blood" McNally, tackle Cal Hubbard, and guard Mike Michalske, and won their first NFL championship, edging the New York Giants, who featured quarterback Benny Friedman.

Teams that join the NFL for the 1929 season:

Buffalo Bisons (play 1929 season only)
Minneapolis Red Jackets
Staten Island Stapletons
Orange Tornadoes
Boston Bulldogs (play only 1929 season -
- the Bulldogs were in reality the Pottsville Maroons relocated, inactive for the 1928 season)

Teams that fold between the 1929 and 1930 seasons:

Dayton Triangles
Buffalo Bisons
Boston Bulldogs

1930

The 1930 NFL season was the 11th regular season of the National Football League.

Prior to the season, Brooklyn businessmen William B. Dwyer and John C. Depler bought the Dayton Triangles,
moved it, and renamed it the Brooklyn Dodgers. 
The Orange Tornadoes relocated to Newark and Buffalo Bisons and Boston Bulldogs dropped out. Portsmouth Spartans were a new team

 
Opposed to NFL.com - It is claimed in other records that on
September 24 - Portsmouth Spatans  beat the Brooklyn Dodgers at home in the first NFL night game played in front of portable lights University Stadium.

Was It
November 3, 1929 or November 6, 1929
or
September 24th, 1930
CAN ANYBODY VERIFY THIS DATE?

 

The Packers edged the New York Giants for the title as the Green Bay Packers were named the NFL champions for the second straight year after finishing the season with the best record.

But the most improved team was the Bears. Halas retired as a player and replaced himself as coach of the Bears with Ralph Jones, who refined the T-formation by introducing wide ends and a halfback in motion. Jones also introduced rookie All-America fullback-tackle Bronko Nagurski.
George Halas coached the Bears at four different times
(1920-1929  -  1933-1942  -  1946-1955  -  1958-1967)

The Giants defeated a team of former Notre Dame players coached by Knute Rockne 22-0 before 55,000 at the Polo Grounds, December 14. The proceeds went to the New York Unemployment Fund to help those suffering because of the Great Depression, and the easy victory helped give the NFL credibility with the press and the public.

Teams that join the NFL for the 1930 season:

The Dayton Triangles, the last of the NFL's original franchises, was purchased by William B. Dwyer and John C. Depler prior to the season, moved it to Brooklyn, and renamed it the Brooklyn Dodgers.
This franchise is not related to the Brooklyn Dodgers franchise that played in the All-America Football Conference from 1946 to 1948.
Another NFL team that played in Brooklyn was the Brooklyn Lions in 1926.

Teams that fold between the 1930 and 1931 seasons: 

Minneapolis Red Jackets
Newark Tornadoes

In the 1930s, cheerleaders began performing pom-pom routines and using paper poms,
still the most widely recognized cheerleading prop. 

1931

The 1931 NFL season was the 12th regular season of the National Football League.

The NFL decreased to 10 teams due to financial hardships caused by the Great Depression. Even the Frankford Yellow Jackets had to fold midway through the season.

 Carr fined the Bears, Packers, and Portsmouth $1,000 each for using players whose college classes had not graduated.

The Greenbay Packers were named the NFL champions for the third consecutive time after finishing the season with the best record beating out the Spartans, who were led by rookie backs Earl (Dutch) Clark and Glenn Presnell.

The Cleveland Indians join the NFL (play 1931 season only)

The Frankford Yellow Jackets disband during 1932 season 

Teams that fold between the 1931 and 1932 seasons: 

Minneapolis Red Jackets 
Newark Tornadoes
Cleveland Indians
Providence Steam Roller
Frankford Yellow Jackets

1932

The 1932 NFL season was the 13th regular season of the National Football League.

July 9 - George Preston Marshall, Vincent Bendix, Jay O'Brien, and M. Dorland Doyle were awarded a franchise for Boston. Despite the presence of two rookies-halfback Cliff Battles and tackle Glen (Turk) Edwards-the new team, named the Boston Braves, lost money and Marshall was left as the sole owner at the end of the year.

With the loss of 
Providence Steam Rollers,
 Cleveland Indians
 and Frankford Yellow Jackets, 
league membership dropped to eight teams, the lowest in NFL history.

Official statistics were kept for the first time.


The First Playoff Game

December 18, 1932

From the start of the National Football League in 1920, every league championship was determined based on the regular season standings. Then in 1932, the Portsmouth Spartans and the Chicago Bears finished the season in the first-ever tie for first place - so, for the first time in NFL history, a one-game playoff was staged to determine the 1932 championship.

However, a blizzard with deep snow and sub-zero wind chill, blew into Chicago and made it impossible to play the game at Wrigley Field. So, the game was moved indoors at Chicago Stadium and played on a modified field only 60 yards long and 30 feet narrower. The end zones were not regulation size and the sidelines butted up against the stands.

The Bears proceeded to shutout the Spartans, 9-0. The lone touchdown of the game was a disputed pass play from Bronko Nagurski to Red Grange. Rules at the time stipulated that a forward pass had to be thrown from at least five yards behind the line of scrimmage. The Spartans contested that Nagurski did not drop back five yards before firing the jump pass to Grange. The play stood and the Bears later added a safety to put the final touches on their victory.

The game became an earmark for a new era in pro football. Because of the cramped quarters of the unusual venue, several NFL rules changes were employed for the following season.

As it was, if the ball went out of bounds or a player was tackled near the sideline, the next play began right there snug, against the line. Teams had to use a precious play just to get the ball back toward the center of the field.
In 1933, the rule regarding the use of inbound lines or hashmarks was re-written to require that the ball be spotted on the hashmarks on every play.

Another rule change that season was the movement of the goal posts from the end line to the goal line. On February 25, 1933, the NFL discontinued the use of the Collegiate Rules Book and began to develop its own rules. The most significant change was that the forward pass became legal anywhere behind the scrimmage line.

The Staten Island Stapletons fold between the 1932 and 1933 seasons

1933

The 1933 NFL season was the 14th regular season of the National Football League.


First NFL Rules

February 25  NFL officials adopted rules specifically for the NFL and discontinued the use of collegiate rules.

The NFL, which long had followed the rules of college football, made a number of significant changes from the college game for the first time and began to develop rules serving its needs and the style of play it preferred. The innovations from the 1932 championship game-inbounds line or hashmarks and goal posts on the goal lines-were adopted. Also the forward pass was legalized from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage, February 25.

Major rule changes

  • The forward pass is legal anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. Previously, the passer had to be at least five yards back from the scrimmage line. This change is referred to as the "Bronko Nagurski Rule" after his controversial touchdown in the 1932 NFL Playoff Game.

  • Hashmarks or inbounds lines are added to the field 10 yards in from each sideline. All plays would start with the ball on or between the hashmarks.

  • To increase the number of field goals and decrease the number of tie games, the goal posts are moved from the end lines at the back of the end zones to the goal lines.

  • It is a touchback when a punt hits the opponent's goal posts before being touched by a player of either team.

  • It is a safety if a ball that is kicked behind the goal line hits the goal posts, and rolls back out of the end zone or is recovered by the kicking team.

July 8 -, the NFL was divided into two divisions for the first time and the winners of each division were to play a championship game to determine the league champion.

1933 season teams:

Boston Redskins
Green Bay Packers
Brooklyn Dodgers
New York Giants
Chicago Bears
Chicago Cardinals
Portsmouth Spartans

Teams that join the NFL for the 1933 season:

Three new franchises joined the NFL league

Originally named Pirates after the city’s major league baseball team, Owner Art Rooney Sr. changed the team name to Steelers in 1940 to more properly represent the city’s dominant steel industry

Bell and Wray reactivated the franchise under the name "Philadelphia Eagles." However, because of the time gap since the Yellow Jackets' demise in 1931
(and the fact that virtually no players from their 1931 roster played for the 1933 Eagles),
the NFL officially treats the two franchises as separate entities despite the commonality and continuity of their ownership.

and the third franchise to joine the NFL league
which is the now de-funct NFL team

The Staten Island Stapletons suspended operations for a year, but never returned to the league.

Halas bought out Sternaman, became sole owner of the Bears, and reinstated himself as head coach.
George Halas coached the Bears at four different times
(1920-1929  -  1933-1942  -  1946-1955  -  1958-1967)
Marshall changed the name of the Boston Braves to the Boston Redskins.

 David Jones sold the Chicago Cardinals to Charles W. Bidwill.
October 8 - Boston Redskins running back Cliff Battles becomes the first player to top 200 yards in a game, rushing for 215 yards in a 21-20 victory over the New York Giants.

 Due to the success of the 1932 NFL Playoff Game, Marshall and Halas pushed through a proposal that divided the NFL into two divisions, for the first time, with the winners of each division playing in a championship game to determine the NFL champion.

October 8 - Harry Newman of The New York Giants ran for 108 yards against the Boston Redskins. The Giants' first 100 yard game

First NFL Championship Game

The season ended when the  the Western Division champion Chicago Bears defeated the Eastern Division champion New York Giants in the first ever NFL Championship Game 23-21 at Wrigley Field, December 17.

1934

The 1934 NFL season was the 15th regular season of the National Football League.

The First NFL Thanksgiving 

Radio Executive, George.A. Richards purchased the Portsmouth Spartans for $8,000; The Spartans were members of the NFL from 1930 to 1933. Detroit gets it's 5th and final (now existing) football franchise when Richards moved them to Detroit, and renamed them the Detroit Lions.

Previous Football Franchise's in Detroit:

1920 Detroit Heralds
1921 Detroit Tigers
1925 Detroit Panthers
1928 Detroit Wolverines

With the Spartans, not only was Richards bringing a proven, quality team to Detroit, he was also bringing at least one super-star, Earl "Dutch" Clark, one of the most versatile backs ever to play the game. Clark had an outstanding supporting cast in the Detroit backfield with a big, talented line anchored by Frank Christiansen.
September 23 - The Lions play their first NFL game, beating The New York Giants 9-0 at University of Detroit Stadium before 12,000 fans.

When the Monsters of the Midway came into the University of Detroit Stadium to face the Lions on Thanksgiving Day, November 29, 1934, no one had any idea that they were starting a tradition. The game was the brainchild of Lion owner George A. Richards. Being the owner of WJR, Richards had contacts in the booming radio industry. He used those contacts to garner the help of NBC Radio president Deke Aylesworth in setting up a 94 station network to broadcast the Lion / Bear tussle live coast-to-coast becoming the first NFL game broadcast nationally, with Graham McNamee the announcer for NBC radio.
 Richards felt that the game would give pro football excellent exposure, and Papa Bear George Halas agreed. Therefore, the game was on, and both squads proved more than ready to spoil the other teams Thanksgiving dinner.
The Lions first ever sellout crowd of 26,000 witnessed one of the great games in Lion history on that landmark day. Detroit got the early lead in the first quarter on a two yard Ace Gutowsky TD run that was set up by a Buster Mitchell 27 yard interception return. Dutch Clark provided the PAT. The Bears answered back to tie the game in the second stanza with a 14 yard TD.
The Bears cut the Lion lead to 16-13 in the third quarter when Jack Manders kicked field goals of 15 and 42 yards. The game remained there until late in the final period, when a Glenn Presnell pass was intercepted by Joe Zeller, who brought it back to the Detroit 4-yard line. Two plays later, the Bears scored on a play that was all too familiar to the Lions, a two-yard Nagurski flea flicker. The pass went to future Bear Hall of Famer, Bill Hewitt.
A desperate, Clark led, final drive fell short, and the Bears prevailed 19-16.
In describing the loss, Leo Macdonell of the Detroit Times wrote, "It was a heartbreak for the Lions and their followers, and with a heavy heart they feast over the crumbs of a game that put the Detroit team out of the running for the championship honors."
Times sports editor Bud Shaver added that, "Many Thanksgiving Days will roll into eternity before 26,000 Detroiters will forget that one in which the Chicago Bears knocked the Detroit Lions out of a chance for the National Football League Championship at U-D Stadium."
In addition, the Lions' first Thanksgiving Day proved to be such a success, both on the field and at the box office that it became an annual event. Nearly seventy-years later, it has become as big a part of America's Thanksgiving as the turkey and pumpkin pie.

Rookie Beattie Feathers of the Bears became the NFL's first 1,000-yard rusher, gaining 1,004 on 101 carries.

Professional football gained new prestige when the Bears were matched against the best college football players in the first Chicago College All-Star Game, August 31. The game ended in a scoreless tie before 79,432 at Soldier Field.

The Cincinnati Reds franchises that joined the NFL league in the 1933 season and played the first 8 games of the 1934 season was suspended for not paying league dues.
The St. Louis Gunners,

 an independent team, joined the NFL by buying the Cincinnati Reds franchise and went 1-2 the last three weeks and folding after 1934 season.

October 7 - Detroit Lions Glenn Presnell kicked a 54-yard field goal, an NFL record at the time.
The record stood for 19 years UNTIL September 27 1953 by Baltimore's Bert Rechichar who boots a record 56-yard field goal against Chicago. The record would stand for 17 years until Tom Dempsey nailed a 63-yarder on Nov. 8 1970.


The season ended with The 1934 National Football League Championship Game, also known as The Sneakers Game, was played at the Polo Grounds in New York City on December 9, 1934.
The final score was
New York Giants 30,
Chicago Bears 13.

A freezing rain the night before the game froze the Polo Grounds's field, much like the Ice Bowl years later. After a remark made by one of the players, an equipment man was sent to Manhattan College to borrow sneakers for the team to have better footing.

The New York Giants started the game wearing their regular cleats, but trailed 10-3 midway though the third quarter. So it was decided to switch out of the cleats for the sneakers. Then after the Bears increased their lead to 13-3, Giants quarterback Ed Danowski threw a touchdown pass to Ike Frankian to make the score 13-10. On the Giants next drive, running back Ken Strong scored on a 42-yard touchdown run. Later an 11-yard run by Strong was turned into another touchdown for the Giants. Finally the Giants closed it out with Danowski's 9-yard touchdown run. The game ended with the Giants ahead: 30-13.

December 10 - The player waiver rule was adopted 

The NFL splits into divisions as follows:

EASTERN DIVISION 

Boston Redskins 
Brooklyn Dodgers 
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
Pittsburgh Pirates

WESTERN DIVISION 

Chicago Bears
Chicago Cardinals 
Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati Reds played first 8 games of the 1934 season - The St. Louis Gunners resumed
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Portsmouth Spartans

Major rule changes

1935

The 1935 NFL season was the 16th regular season of the National Football League.

All-America end Don Hutson of Alabama joined the Green Bay Packers.

November 3 - Philadelphia and Boston combine to throw an NFL record 11 interceptions.

The season ended when the Detroit Lions defeated the New York Giants 26-7 at University of Detroit Stadium, Detroit, Michigan, December 15 in the 1935 NFL Championship Game.

Major rule changes

The inbounds lines or hashmarks were moved closer to the center of the field, 15 yards from the sidelines.

May 19 - The NFL adopted Bert Bell's proposal to hold an annual draft of college players, to begin in 1936, with teams selecting in an inverse order of finish.

New York City's Downtown Athletic Club awarded the first Heisman Trophy to Chicago halfback Jay Berwanger, who was also the first ever NFL Draft pick in 1936. The trophy was designed by sculptor Frank Eliscu and modeled after NYU player Ed Smith. The trophy recognizes the nation's "most outstanding" college football player and has become one of the most coveted awards in all of American sports

1936

The 1936 NFL season was the 17th regular season of the National Football League.

For the first time since the league was founded, there were no team transactions; neither a club folded nor did a new one join the NFL. This was also the first year in which all league teams played the same number of games.


First NFL Draft Pick

As it stood, players were free to sign with any club. This tended to make the stronger teams even stronger and created much disparity in the NFL.
The previous year on May 19 of 1935, the league owners adopted a plan for a college player draft. Proposed by Bert Bell, the Eagles owner and future NFL commissioner.
The idea called for a draft whereby the weaker teams would have the first choice at top college prospects. The teams would draft in reverse order of their finish with the league champions from the previous season picking last.
 The draft had nine rounds.
 The Eagles made University of Chicago halfback and Heisman Trophy winner Jay Berwanger the first player ever selected in the NFL draft, February 8. The Eagles traded his rights to the Bears, but Berwanger never played pro NFL football.
Legendary college coach Paul “Bear” Bryant was the fourth-round pick of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1936. He, too, never played pro ball.
 The first player selected to actually sign was the number-two pick, Riley Smith of Alabama, who was selected by Boston.
Since that time, there has been a college draft held every year resulting in a competitively balanced league.

The popularity of the professional game slowly began to equal its college rival after the NFL instituted its first player draft.

 As many talented college players opted to play in the NFL, the professional game also drew more fans.
The Chicago Bears, the Chicago Cardinals, the Detroit Lions, the Green Bay Packers, and the New York Giants were some of the league’s dominant teams during the period.
 Outstanding players included
  • running back Cliff Battles,

  • running back Tony Canadeo,
  • quarterback Sammy Baugh,

and 

  • receiver Don Hutson.

The Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II (1939-1945), however, drained many of the early professional franchises of money and players.


The Second AFL 

A rival league was formed, and it became the second to call itself the American Football League.
The Boston Shamrocks were its champions. 

The NFL season ended December 13 when the Green Bay Packers defeated the Boston Redskins 21-6 in the 1936 NFL Championship Game. For the only time in NFL history, the team with the home field advantage declined to play at their own stadium in Boston and instead elected to play at a neutral site. The decision was due to poor attendance, the Redskins moved the game from Boston to the Polo Grounds in New York City.

Major rule changes

The penalty for an illegal forward pass that is thrown beyond the line of scrimmage is five yards from the spot of the foul.

1937

The 1937 NFL season was the 18th regular season of the National Football League.

The 1937 draft was increased to 10 rounds.

The Cleveland Rams joined the league as an expansion team. Meanwhile, the Redskins relocated from Boston, Massachusetts to Washington, D.C. - therefore becomming The Washington Redskins

The NFL season ended when the Redskins signed TCU All-America tailback Sammy Baugh, who led them to a 28-21 victory over the Bears in the 1937 NFL Championship Game at Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois, December 12.

The Los Angeles Bulldogs had an 8-0 record to win the AFL title, but then the 2-year-old league folded.

Major rule changes


A team known as the Cincinnati Bengals, the closest link to today's modern-era team, was formed as a member of the rival American Football League. It was that team's nickname which was later adopted by today's NFL franchise.

The 1937 Bengals finished with a 2-4-2 record in their first year, but the AFL folded after the season.

1938

The 1938 NFL season was the 19th regular season of the National Football League.

A twist is added to the draft procedure with only the five teams that finished lowest in the previous season were permitted to make selections in the second and fourth rounds.

Rookie Byron (Whizzer) White of the Pittsburgh Pirates led the NFL in rushing.

Marshall, Los Angeles Times sports editor Bill Henry, and promoter Tom Gallery established the Pro Bowl game between the NFL champion and a team of pro all-stars.

The NFL season ended when the New York Giants defeated the Green Bay Packers in the 1938 NFL Championship Game at Polo Grounds, New York City, December 11.


The first
NFL Most Valuable Player Award
(The Joe Carr Trophy awarded by the NFL)
is awarded to Center, Mel Hein of the New York Giants

Major rule changes

At the suggestion of Halas, Hugh (Shorty) Ray became a technical advisor on rules and officiating to the NFL.

The Cincinnati Bengals continued as an independent team after the 2nd attempt of a rival league (AFL) folded. The Bengals played three NFL teams in 1938. They beat the Chicago Bears, 17-13, and the Pittsburgh Pirates, 38-0, and tied the Chicago Cardinals, 7-7.

1939

The 1939 NFL season was the 20th regular season of the National Football League.

The draft was expanded to 20 rounds.
Adding a twist to the procedure with only the five teams that finished lowest in the previous season were permitted to make selections in the second and fourth rounds.

Before the season, NFL president since 1921 - Joseph Carr died in Columbus, May 20. Carl Storck was named acting president, May 25.

The First Televised Game 

October 22 = NBC televises a pro football game for the first time, featuring the Philadelphia Eagles and the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn.

A meager crowd of 13,050 were on hand at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field on that now-historic day when the Philadelphia Eagles fell to Brooklyn’s Dodgers 23-14.

Five hundred-or-so fortunate New Yorkers who owned television sets witnessed the game in the comfort of their own homes, over NBC’s experimental station W2XBS.

While few people owned television sets in 1939. Many watch the telecast on monitors while visiting the RCA Pavilion at the World’s Fair in New York where it was scheduled as a special event.

"It was a cloudy day, when the sun crept behind the stadium there wasn’t enough light for the cameras," according to Allen (Skip) Walz, the NBC play-by-play announcer. "The picture would get darker and darker, and eventually it would go completely blank, and we’d revert to a radio broadcast."
 Such an occurrence would create a furor today,
but in 1939 it was simply technology at its best.

The season ended when the Green Bay Packers defeated the New York Giants 27-0 in the 1939 NFL Championship Game, at State Fair Park, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, December 10. NFL attendance exceeded 1 million in a season for the first time, reaching 1,071,200.

The NFL Most Valuable Player Award
(The Joe Carr Trophy awarded by the NFL)
is awarded to Halfback, Parker Hall of the Cleveland Rams


FIRST NFL PRO BOWL

 
The New York Giants defeated the Pro All-Stars 13-10 in the first Pro Bowl, at Wrigley Field, Los Angeles, January 15.

Major rule changes

1940

The 1940 NFL season was the 21st regular season of the National Football League.


The Third AFL

A six-team rival league, the third to call itself the American Football League, was formed,
and the Columbus Bullies won its championship. 

Once again the Cincinnatti Bengals joined an AFL league. They recorded 1-7-0 and 1-5-2 marks in 1940 and 1941, respectively. That AFL suffered the fate of the two AFLs before it, folding after the 1941 season as the United States entered World World II. Only this time, the Bengals folded along with it.
UNTIL 1967

T-formation with a man-in-motion. It was the first championship carried on network radio, broadcast by Red Barber to 120 stations of the Mutual Broadcasting System, which paid $2,500 for the rights.

Art Rooney sold the Pittsburgh Pirates - to be named the Pittsburgh Steelers - to Alexis Thompson, December 9, then bought part interest in the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Pittsburgh Pirates along with the Philadelphia Eagles and the now-defunct Cincinnati Reds football team joined the NFL as 1933 expansion teams, after Art Rooney, Sr. paid a $2,500 fee.

 

Chicago Bears, End, Dick Plasman was the last player to appear in a game without a helmet.


The season ended December 8 when the Chicago Bears defeated the Washington Redskins in the 1940 NFL Championship Game, 73-0 as Chicago wins the title before 36,034 in Griffith Stadium, Washington, D.C.
This game currently stands as the most onesided victory in NFL history.

Sparked by a comment made by Redskins owner George Preston Marshall, who had said three weeks earlier that the Bears were crybabies and quitters when the going got tough, Chicago crushed Washington, 73-0.

The NFL Most Valuable Player Award
(The Joe Carr Trophy awarded by the NFL)
is awarded to Halfback, Ace Parker of the Brooklyn Dodgers

Major rule changes

In the early 1940's, when men went to war, women not only went to work, but also on to the cheerleading squads. Cheerleading then became more of a female sport. When the men returned from war, new twists and turns were added. Gymnastics were always done by men, while the girls danced which gave rise to dance teams.

1941

The 1941 NFL season was the 22nd regular season of the National Football League.

Before the season, Elmer Layden was named the first Commissioner of the NFL, March 1; Storck, the acting president, resigned, April 5. NFL headquarters were moved to Chicago.

Bell and Rooney traded the Eagles to Thompson for the Pittsburgh Pirates, then re-named their new team the Pittsburgh Steelers. Homer Marshman sold the Rams to Daniel F. Reeves and Fred Levy, Jr.

THE NFL ON PEARL HARBOR DAY

Three scheduled NFL games were under way when the Japanese first attacked Pearl Harbor at 12:55 p.m. ET on Sunday, December 7, 1941.
The public address announcer at New York's Polo Grounds, where fans were celebrating "Tuffy Leemans' Day" in honor of their star running back, interrupted his commentary to tell all servicemen to report to their units.
The same was done at Chicago's Comiskey Park. At Washington's Griffith Stadium, the announcer paged high-ranking government and military personnel who were in attendance, but did not mention the attack. Reporters were told to check with their offices.

NFL Games Played on December 7, 1941
Home teams in Capital Letters 

 Chicago Bears 34, CHICAGO CARDINALS 24
 Brooklyn Dodgers 21, NEW YORK GIANTS 7
 WASHINGTON REDSKINS 20, Philadelphia Eagles 14

On Monday, December 8, America officially entered World War II.

First NFL Divisional Playoff Game

The Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers finished the regular season tied in the NFL Western Division on December 14, setting up the first divisional playoff game in league history. The Bears won 33-14.

The Chicago Bears then went on to defeat the New York Giants, 37-9, in the NFL 1941 Championship Game, December 21.(two weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor)

Columbus again won the championship of the AFL, but the two-year-old league then folded.

The NFL Most Valuable Player Award
(The Joe Carr Trophy awarded by the NFL)
is awarded to Wide receiver, Don Hutson of the Green Bay Packers

The league by-laws were revised to provide for playoffs in case there were ties in division races, and sudden-death overtimes in case a playoff game was tied after four quarters. An official NFL Record Manual was published for the first time.

Major rule changes

1942

The 1942 NFL season was the 23th regular season of the National Football League.

Before the season, many players left for service in World War II, thus depleting the rosters of all the teams. Halas left the Bears in midseason to join the Navy, and Luke Johnsos and Heartley (Hunk) Anderson served as co-coaches as the Bears went 11-0 in the regular season.

World War II obviously had a dramatic effect on the entire nation. It forced an immediate change in what was a peaceful way of life, including the concept of sports and how they would be presented and played. The NFL, in a March 24, 1942 news release, attempted to explain its plan and role during the national crisis.

The release stated that until federal authorities decided greater benefits would accrue from some other policy, professional football's wartime effort would center about normal operations with an emphasis on participation in civilian emergency activities.

Commissioner Elmer Layden offered the following statement:

 "From Aristotle's time on down we have been told, and it has been demonstrated, that sports is necessary for the relaxation of the people in times of stress and worry. The National league will strive to help meet this need with the men the government has not yet called for combat service, either because of dependents, disabilities, or the luck of the draw in the Army draft."

Just as America’s general population rallied behind the United States’ World War II effort, so too did the National Football League.

Hundreds of players joined the effort through enlistment, as the NFL organizationally looked for additional ways to make a difference. One such endeavor was the selling of War Bonds, an activity that generated $4,000,000 worth of sales for the effort in 1942 alone.

The NFL also donated the revenues from 15 exhibition games to service charities. The games produced a total purse of $680,384.07. It was reported to be the largest amount raised by a single athletic organization.

After 10 years, The Pittsburgh Steelers posted their first winning record, 7-4 under head coach Walt Kiesling.

First Undefeated NFL Team

The Chicago Bears sailed through the 1942 NFL schedule undefeated and untied. The reigning NFL champs, the Bears, were favorites to win their third consecutive title when they met the Washington Redskins in the 1942 Championship game.

The Official NFL website (found at http://www.nfl.com/) claims The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the ONLY undefeated team in NFL history. Yet in their chronicles they claim the NFL was established in 1920, then why do they fail to mention any of the following teams going undefeated?

1920 Akron is the only undefeated team in the Association.
1922 The Canton Bulldogs were named the 1922 NFL Champions after ending the season with a 10-0-2 record.
1923 Canton had its second consecutive undefeated season, going 11-0-1 for the NFL title.
1942 The Bears finish the season 11-0
1948 The Cleveland Browns won their third straight championship in the AAFC, going 15-0 makes them the first team to experience a perfect season

The season ended when the Washington Redskins defeated the Chicago Bears 14-6 in the 1942 NFL Championship Game, December 13 at Griffith Stadium, Washington, D.C.

 The Redskin victory had an extra measure of satisfaction, since it was the same Bears team that two years earlier humiliated Washington 73-0 in the 1940 title game.

The NFL Most Valuable Player Award
(The Joe Carr Trophy awarded by the NFL)
for the second time in a row is awarded to Wide receiver, Don Hutson of the Green Bay Packers

Major rule changes


1943

The 1943 NFL season was the 24th regular season of the National Football League.

 As more players left to serve in World War II, three teams were affected by the depleted rosters.

The Cleveland Rams, with co-owners Reeves and Levy in the service, were granted permission to suspend operations for one season, April 6. Levy transferred his stock in the team to Reeves, April 16.

Philadelphia and Pittsburgh were granted permission to merge for one season, June 19. The team, known as Phil-Pitt (and called the Steagles by fans), divided home games between the two cities, and Earle (Greasy) Neale of Philadelphia and Walt Kiesling of Pittsburgh served as co-coaches. The merger automatically dissolved the last day of the season, December 5.

Ted Collins was granted a franchise for Boston, to become active in 1944.


October 24 - the Green Bay Packers became the first team in National Football League history to intercept nine passes in a single game.  The feat came in their 27-6 victory over the Detroit Lions..

1943
PLAYOFFS

Sammy Baugh led the league in passing, punting, and interceptions. He led the Redskins to a tie with the Giants for the Eastern Division title, and then to a 28-0 victory in a divisional playoff game.

The season ended when the Chicago Bears defeated the Washington Redskins 41-21 in the 1944 NFL Championship Game, December 26.

The NFL Most Valuable Player Award
(The Joe Carr Trophy awarded by the NFL)
is awarded to Quarterback, Sid Luckman of the Chicago Bears

Major rule changes

This feature of the game led to the modern two-platoon system, in which one group of 11 players enters the game to play offense and a second group enters to play defense.


1944

The 1944 NFL season was the 25th regular season of the National Football League.

Collins, who had wanted a franchise in Yankee Stadium in New York,named his new team in Boston the Boston Yanks,

joining the league as an expansion team and added to the Eastern Division.
 Team owner Ted Collins picked the name "Yanks" because he originally wanted to run a team that played at New York City's Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, the Yanks could only manage a 2-8 record during its first regular season.

 The Brooklyn Dodgers changed their name to Brooklyn Tigers.

Both the Cleveland Rams and the Philadelphia Eagles resumed their traditional operations.

The Chicago Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers were granted permission to merge for one year under the name Card-Pitt, April 21. The combined team played half of their home games in each city.Phil Handler of the Cardinals and Walt Kiesling of the Steelers served as co-coaches. The merger automatically dissolved the last day of the season, December 3.

The NFL season ended when the Green Bay Packers defeated the New York Giants 14-7 at Polo Grounds, New York City, December 17 in the 1944 NFL Championship Game.

The NFL Most Valuable Player Award
(The Joe Carr Trophy awarded by the NFL)
is awarded to Halfback, Frank Sinkwich of the  Detroit Lions

 

The All-America Football Conference (AAFC)

The All-America Football Conference (AAFC) was an 8 team professional American football league that challenged the rival National Football League from 1946 to 1949.
 The league was created in June 1944 and began play in 1946.

Looking for name recognition and establish credibility, the AAFC chose popular former University of Notre Dame standout Jim Crowley as its first commissioner on November 21, 1944.

June 4th two days prior to D-Day, a group described by the A.P. as "men of millionaire incomes" met in St. Louis to organize a new professional football league. They had been called together by Arch Ward, the innovative sports editor of the Chicago Tribune and organizer of the college and baseball All-Star games.

 The initial meeting, attended by representatives of Buffalo, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Cleveland (for whom Ward carried a proxy) led to a second organizational meeting on September 3, 1944 in Chicago.
  • John Keeshin, a trucking executive, represented Chicago;

  • oilmen James Breuil and Ray Ryan were from Buffalo and New York respectively;
  • boxer Gene Tunney sought a team for Baltimore;
  • actor Don Ameche wanted one for L.A.;
  • Tony Morabito, a lumber executive, was from San Francisco,;
  • Arthur McBride, a Cleveland taxi man, came from that city.

Also present was Mrs. Eleanor Gehrig, widow of the baseball Hall of Famer, who later became a league executive.
It was reported that Detroit, Philadelphia and Boston were also interested in the new league.

Major rule changes


1945

The 1945 NFL season was the 26th regular season of the National Football League.

After the Japanese surrendered ending World War II, a count showed that the NFL service roster, limited to men who had played in league games, totaled 638, 21 of whom had died in action.

The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Chicago Cardinals resumed their traditional operations.

The Brooklyn Tigers and the Boston Yanks then merged for this one season. The combined team, known simply as The Yanks, played half of their home games in each city. The team was coached by former Boston head coach Herb Kopf.
After Brooklyn Tigers owner Dan Topping announced his intentions to withdrew from the NFL and join the new All-America Football Conference In December, his NFL team was immediately revoked after the season and all of its players on its active and reserve lists were assigned to the Yanks, who once again became the Boston Yanks.
This concludes using "Tigers" as the name of any football teams, after 6 have employed the name in the past.

1903 Massillon Tigers
1920 Cleveland Tigers
1920 Chicago Tigers
1923 Columbus Tigers
1925 Los Angeles Tigers
1944 Brooklyn Tigers

Halas rejoined the Bears late in the season after service with the U.S. Navy. Although Halas took over much of the coaching duties, Anderson and Johnsos remained the coaches of record throughout the season.

Steve Van Buren of Philadelphia led the NFL in rushing, kickoff returns, and scoring. 

The season ended December 16, 1945, 
Washington Redskins vs. Cleveland Rams, 
1945 NFL Championship Game at Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland

The Rams scored a safety when Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh, throwing the ball from his own end zone, hit the goal posts (which were on the goal line between 1927 and 1973). The two points was the margin of victory as the Rams won 15-14. After the game, the rules were changed so that when a forward pass thrown from one's own end zone hits the goal posts, it is instead ruled incomplete.

The NFL Most Valuable Player Award
(The Joe Carr Trophy awarded by the NFL)
is awarded to rookie Quarterback, Bob Waterfield of the  Cleveland Rams

Major rule changes


1946

The 1946 NFL season was the 27th regular season of the National Football League.

December 31 - President Truman officially proclaims end of WW-II. 

Before the season, Elmer Layden resigned as NFL Commissioner and Bert Bell, co-founder of the Philadelphia Eagles, replaced him.

The contract of Commissioner Layden was not renewed, and Bert Bell, the co-owner of the Steelers, replaced him, January 11. Bell moved the league headquarters from Chicago to the Philadelphia suburb of Bala- Cynwyd.

The NFL took on a truly national appearance when the Rams became the first NFL team based on the West Coast after Reeves was granted permission by the league to move his NFL champion Rams from Cleveland, Ohio to Los Angeles.
Cleveland Rams became Los Angeles Rams

First African-Americans to play in the NFL

March 21 - Halfback Kenny Washington  and end Woody Strode (May 7) signed with the Los Angeles Rams to become the first African-Americans to play in the NFL in the modern era.

Also at this time Guard  Bill Willis on August 6 and back Marion Motley on August 9 joined the All American Football Conference (AAFC) with the Cleveland Browns.

 
While The Cleveland Browns  were founded in 1946 as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference under owner Arthur 'Mickey' McBride. The team was to be named the Cleveland Panthers, but a semi-pro team was using that name and threatened to sue if the AAFC club used it as well.
A contest was held and most of the entries submitted wanted the name Browns, because the extremely popular Paul Brown was the team's head coach.
Brown is considered the "father of the modern offense," and many consider Paul Brown to be the the greatest football coach in history. Such claims are backed by significant evidence: Brown dominated as a gridiron general on every major level - high school, college, and professional.
he became the first coach for Arthur 'Mickey' McBride's new All America Football Conference franchise, the Cleveland Browns.

December 22 - The rival All-America Football Conference began play with eight teams, a rival league which was actually formed in 1944.

The league was absorbed by its competitor (The NFL) in 1950.
The All-America Football Conference (AAFC) was established as a rival to the NFL. The new league included the:

Brooklyn Dodgers, 1946-1948 
(merged with New York for 1949 season)

Buffalo Bisons, 1946;
renamed Buffalo Bills, 1947-1949

Chicago Rockets, 1946-1948;
renamed Chicago Hornets, 1949

Cleveland Browns, 1946-1949

Los Angeles Dons, 1946-1949

Miami Seahawks, 1946;
relocated, becoming Baltimore Colts, 1947-1949

New York Yankees, 1946-1948;
merged with Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming Brooklyn/New York Yankees, 1949

San Francisco 49ers, 1946-1949

The most powerful team in the new league was the Cleveland Browns, coached by football innovator Paul Brown.

Although talented, the quarterbacks of the 1930s and early 1940s seldom completed more than 50 percent of their passes. A major cause of these low percentages was the primitive nature of pass-blocking strategies. With little protection, passers always had to throw while avoiding incoming rushers. Brown installed a blocking system that radically transformed the passing game. He changed the system by arranging the linemen in the form of a cup that pushed most pass-rushers to the outside and provided a safe area, called a pocket, from which the quarterback could pass.
Using the strategy, Brown coached Cleveland to four AAFC championships from 1946 to 1949.

The Browns became a charter member of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) in 1946, with Paul Brown as head coach and general manager. Cleveland dominated the AAFC, losing just four regular-season games while winning every championship during the league’s four-year existence. The Browns boasted several future Hall of Fame members, including quarterback Otto Graham, tackle-placekicker Lou Groza, end Dante Lavelli, and halfback Marion Motley.

The Cleveland Browns, coached by Paul Brown, won the AAFC's first championship, defeating the New York Yankees 14-9 at Cleveland Stadium.

Backs Frank Filchock and Merle Hapes of the Giants were questioned about an attempt by a New York man to fix the championship game with the Bears. Bell suspended Hapes but allowed Filchock to play.

The NFL season ended when the Chicago Bears defeated the New York Giants, 24-14, at Polo Grounds, New York City, December 15 in the1946 NFL Championship Game.

The NFL Most Valuable Player Award
(The Joe Carr Trophy awarded by the NFL)
is awarded to Halfback, Bill Dudley of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Bill Dudley led the NFL in rushing, interceptions, and punt returns.

Major rule changes

January 11

History of the Coin Toss

The coin toss has been a part of professional football since its start in 1892.  While the procedure has been relatively unchanged over the years, the following is a history of change made to the pre-game procedure.

Previously: The referee performed the toss.

Change:  Note was added to the rule that stipulated that the toss was to be made prior to either team leaving field after their pre-game warm up.

1947

The 1947 NFL season was the 28th regular season of the National Football League.

(AAFC) The Cleveland Browns again won the AAFC title, defeating the New York Yankees 14-3.

Charles Bidwill, Sr., owner of the Chicago Cardinals, died April 19, but his wife and sons retained ownership of the team. The cardinals went on to end the season when they defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 28-21, in the NFL Championship Game on December 28.

(AAFC) The original incarnation of the Baltimore Colts started in the All-America Football Conference in 1946 as the Miami Seahawks. After a 3-11 season, they moved to Baltimore in 1947.

(AAFC) Buffalo Bisons were renamed Buffalo Bills.

Major rule changes


A bonus choice was instituted for the first time in the NFL draft. 
One team each year would receive the first pick before the first round began. This bonus pick, which continued through 1958, was selected by lottery and each team was eligible for the pick only once.
 The Chicago Bears won a lottery and the rights to the first choice and drafted back Bob Fenimore of Oklahoma A&M.
The NFL received competition in the second half of the 1940s when the rival All-America Football Conference also held a college draft. Secrecy became a new element to the annual player draft as clubs from both leagues battled to sign the college stars.

History of the Coin Toss

The coin toss has been a part of professional football since its start in 1892.  While the procedure has been relatively unchanged over the years, the following is a history of change made to the pre-game procedure.

Previously:  Note was added to the rule that stipulated that the toss was to be made prior to either team leaving field after their pre-game warm up.

Change: Coin toss was moved to thirty minutes before the start of the game

1947
PLAYOFFS

 The 1947 National Football League season resulted in a tie for the Eastern Division championship between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The division championship game was played on December 21, 1947 at Pittsburgh's Forbes Field. The winner of that game would travel to Chicago to play in the championship game against the Chicago Cardinals on December 28.

1948

The 1948 NFL season was the 29th regular season of the National Football League.

The (AAFC) Cleveland Browns became the first professional football team to complete an entire season undefeated - 24 years before the 1972 Miami Dolphins of the NFL would accomplish the task.

The Official NFL website (found at http://www.nfl.com/) claims The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the ONLY undefeated team in NFL history. Yet in their chronicles they claim the NFL was established in 1920, then why do they fail to mention any of the following teams going undefeated?

1920 Akron is the only undefeated team in the Association.
1922 The Canton Bulldogs were named the 1922 NFL Champions after ending the season with a 10-0-2 record.
1923 Canton had its second consecutive undefeated season, going 11-0-1 for the NFL title.
1942 The Bears finish the season 11-0
1948 The Cleveland Browns won their third straight championship in the AAFC (which merged with The NFL), going 15-0 makes them the first team to experience a perfect season

In 1948 Cleveland was home to three professional teams: The Indians, Browns and Barons. In that year all three teams would win the championship title of their respective leagues. No other city can claim three championship teams in one year.

January 15 - Fred Mandel sold the Detroit Lions to a syndicate headed by D. Lyle Fife.


During the season, Halfback Fred Gehrke painted horns on the Los Angeles Rams' helmets, making the first modern helmet emblem in pro football.

After suffering through three more losing seasons and financial woes, Yanks owner Ted Collins asked the NFL to fold the Boston Yanks for a new franchise in New York City.
This new team would be called the New York Bulldogs.

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Jock Sutherland died suddenly during a scouting trip. Sutherland had led the Steelers to an 8-4 recordand a ashare of the Eastern Division title in 1947.

The season ended when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 during a blizzard at Shibe Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 19 in the 1948 NFL Championship Game.

 Major rule changes

January 14


First Use of a Penalty Flag in the NFL

The penalty flag was first used in the NFL, September 17, in a game between the Green Bay Packers and the Boston Yanks.

1949

The 1949 NFL season was the 30th regular season of the National Football League.

Prior to the season, Boston Yanks owner Ted Collins asked the league to fold his team due to financial woes, and give him a new one in New York City. This new team would be called the New York Bulldogs, sharing the Polo Grounds with the Giants.

 January 15  Alexis Thompson sold the champion Eagles to a syndicate headed by James P. Clark

As the season came to a close, The AAFC played its season with a one-division, saw the number of franchises drop to seven and the number of team's games drop to 12, with many AAFC teams in financial trouble due to escalating player salaries.
The NFL also found its teams in difficulty, and on December 9, Bell announced a merger agreement in which three AAFC franchises;
The

Cleveland Browns,
Baltimore Colts
and
The San Francisco 49ers

would join the NFL in 1950. The remaining AAFC players are spread throughout the NFL via draft.

(AAFC) Brooklyn Dodgers merged with New York for 1949 season

(AAFC) New York Yankees merged with Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming Brooklyn/New York Yankees.

The other AAFC teams ceased to be as the Buffalo Bills were merged with the Browns, the New York Yankees were split among the New York Giants and the New York Bulldogs and the Los Angeles Dons mixed with the L.A. Rams.
The Chicago Rockets were renamed Chicago Hornets -

however the team was not one of the AAFC teams that merged with the National Football League prior to the 1950 season.

George Taliaferro was the first black (African-American) player ever drafted by an NFL team (Chicago Bears - 13th round - 1949), but he was not the first black (African-American) draftee to play in the NFL - that would be Wally Triplett of Penn State but only because George Taliaferro signed, instead, with the Los Angeles Dons of the (AAFC) All-American Football Conference.

First African-American drafted by an NFL club: George Taliaferro, halfback (Indiana). Picked by the Chicago Bears in the thirteenth round of the 1949 draft but elected to sign with the Los Angeles Dons of the AAFC. Played with the Dons 1949; New York Yanks 1950-51; Dallas 1952; Baltimore 1953-54; Philadelphia 1955.
He went to the Pro Bowl in 1951, 1952, and 1953. 

First African-American draftee to play in the NFL: Wally Triplett, halfback (Penn State).
For that reason, his picture hangs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
 Picked by the Detroit Lions in the nineteenth round of the 1949 draft. Played with Detroit 1949-1950; Chicago Cardinals 1952-53
Triplett holds the Lions' single-game record in kickoff return yardage with 294 (second highest total in NFL history), including a 97-yard touchdown return, against the Los Angeles Rams in 1950; his average of 73.5 yards per return in that game is also an NFL record. He also set the Lions' record for the longest run from scrimmage with an 80-yard touchdown against the Green Bay Packers.

First name star from a predominantly African-American college: Paul (Tank) Younger, fullback-linebacker (Grambling). Los Angeles Rams 1949-1957; Pittsburgh 1958

The final game in the history of the All America Football Conference (1946-1949) is generally regarded as the final championship game that took place on December 11, 1949 at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. In that game, the Cleveland Browns would win their fourth consecutive AAFC title. The Browns were the only team to ever win the AAFC championship, having won it four straight years from 1946 through 1949. In that final championship game, the Browns defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 21-7.

One notable difference between the 
All-America Football Conference
and the
American Football League (AFL),
a league which also merged (intact) with the NFL two decades later,

 was that the records and statistics of AAFC players and teams (most of which folded) are not considered part of the NFL record book.
For example, any records and statistics which Joe Namath achieved before the New York Jets merged with the AFL into the NFL are still considered part of official NFL statistics,
while Y.A. Tittle's stats as a passer for the Baltimore Colts before the AAFC merged them into the NFL are not considered official NFL statistics.

The NFL had two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season for the first time-Steve Van Buren of Philadelphia and Tony Canadeo of Green Bay.

The NFL season ended when the Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Los Angeles Rams In a heavy rain 14-0 on December 18 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles in the 1949 NFL Championship Game.

Major rule changes

January 20

The free substitution rule (any or all of the players may be replaced by substitutes after any play) was re-adopted for one year. The rule was previously adopted in 1943 in response to the depleted rosters during World War II, but repealed in 1946.

1950

The Golden age of football came in the 1950's, this was a time of change. The teams were gaining more and more fans and they were also making more money. This started to change aspects of the game, aspects like; player's salary, Television coverage and stadium size.

The 1950 NFL season was the 31st regular season of the National Football League.


Television brought a new era to the game. The Los Angeles Rams became the first NFL team to have all of its games - both home and away - televised. The Washington Redskins became the second team to put their games on TV. Other teams arranged to have selected games televised.

February 1.- Curly Lambeau, founder of the franchise and Green Bay's head coach since 1921, resigned under fire

The merger prior to the season with the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) expanded the league to 13 teams.

The merged league briefly flirted with the name "National-American Football League", but restored the name "National Football League" a few months later.

March 3 -  The American and National conferences were created to replace the Eastern and Western divisions

Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers began play

The NFL establishes the following alignment: 

AMERICAN CONFERENCE 

Chicago Cardinals
Cleveland Browns
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
Pittsburgh Steelers
Washington Redskins
San Francisco 49ers

NATIONAL CONFERENCE 

(1st) Baltimore Colts began play
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Los Angeles Rams
New York Bulldogs became New York Yanks

The Baltimore Colts folds after 1950 season 

The New York Bulldogs change their name to the New York Yanks and divided the players of the former AAFC Yankees with the Giants. A special allocation draft was held in which the 13 teams drafted the remaining AAFC players, with special consideration for Baltimore, which received 15 choices compared to 10 for other teams.

Three AAFC teams - Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, and Baltimore Colts - joined the NFL intact.
The merger allowed the former 4-time AAFC champion Browns, the 49ers, and the Colts to survive. Without the agreement, those teams along with the entire AAFC would have folded due to financial difficulties.

In the first game of the season, former AAFC champion Cleveland
 defeated
NFL champion Philadelphia 35-10.
For the first time, deadlocks occurred in both conferences and playoffs were necessary. The Browns defeated the Giants in the American and the Rams defeated the Bears in the National.

October 2 - Bob Shaw established an NFL record with five touchdown catches as the Chicago Cardinals defeated the Baltimore Colts 55-13.
The record was tied in 1981 by San Diego Chargers Kellen Winslow
and again in 1990 by San Francisco 49ers, Jerry Rice.

October 29 - Detroit Lion's Wally Trippett established an NFL record with 294 kickoff return yards against Los Angeles.
The record has since been broken by Tyrone Hughes but Trippett's average of 73.5 yards per return still stands.
304 yards by Tyrone Hughes, New Orleans vs. L.A. Rams, Oct. 23, 1994


December 3 - Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Tom Fears celebrates his 27th birthday by making an NFL record 18 receptions for 189 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams' 51-14 victory over Green Bay Packers.

1950
PLAYOFFS
Home team in capitals

American Conference Playoff Game

CLEVELAND 8, N.Y. Giants 3

National Conference Playoff Game

LOS ANGELES 24, Chi. Bears 14

 
Cleveland Browns defeated Los Angeles Rams 30-28 in the 1950 NFL Championship Game, December 24.

Major rule changes

January 20

1951

The 1951 NFL season was the 32nd regular season of the National Football League.

January 14 - The Pro Bowl game which sat dormant since 1942, was revived under a new format matching the all-stars of each conference at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The American Conference defeated the National Conference 28-27

Prior to the season, Baltimore Colts owner Abraham Watner faced financial difficulties, and thus gave his team and its player contracts back to the league for $50,000. Baltimore's former players were made available for drafting at the same time as college players, January 18.
However, many Baltimore fans started to protest the loss of their team. Supporting groups such as its fan club and its marching band remained in operation and worked for the team's revival
(which eventually led to a new Baltimore team in 1953).

The Rams reversed their television policy from 1950 to having all of its games - both home and away - televised to televising ONLY road games after half the normal fan population were showing up for Home Games.

Television was a new technological devise that took the country by storm, in the early 50's 8 million televisions would be sold a year. Radios were a thing of the past; the television revolutionized the sport of football and the country.


For the first time, the NFL Championship Game was televised across the nation, December 23. The DuMont Television Network paid $75,000 to broadcast the game. Viewers coast-to-coast watched the Los Angeles Rams defeat the Cleveland Browns 24-17 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles.

 

September 28 - One of the greatest opening day performances came when Hall of Fame quarterback Norm Van Brocklin of the Los Angeles Rams threw for a record 554 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Rams to a 54-14 victory over the New York Yanks.
The mark still stands as the greatest single passing effort in National Football League history.
Van Brocklin received the start that day when veteran Bob Waterfield, also a member of the Hall, was injured. The two quarterbacks were entrenched in a fierce battle for the starting role.
The "Dutchman," as Van Brocklin was nicknamed, made the most of his opportunity. He completed 27 of 41 passes and tossed five touchdowns - four of which went to fellow Hall of Famer Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch - en route to a easy 54-14 win over the New York Yanks.

 

Major rule changes

January 18

The Pro Bowl game, dormant since 1942, was revived under a new format matching the all-stars of each conference at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The American Conference defeated the National Conference 28-27, January 14.

1952

The 1952 NFL season was the 33rd regular season of the National Football League.

January 19 - New York Yanks became Dallas Texans
 Prior to the season, New York Yanks owner Ted Collins sold his team back to the NFL. A few days later, a new team was then awarded to an ownership group in Dallas, Texas after it purchased the assets of the Yanks, January 24.
However, the new Dallas Texans went 1-11, and was sold back to the league midway through the season.
The Texans’ inaugural game actually began on an optimistic note - they scored first. Just minutes into the game the Texans recovered a punt fumbled by a Giants defensive back. Two plays later the Texans scored. Sequence photos of the scoring pass-play show that the nearest Giants defender was the same defensive back who had set up the drive with his fumble - Tom Landry. The Texans missed the extra point (something they would do six more times during the season) and the Giants went on to win 24-6.
For the team's last five games, the the commissioner's office operated the Texans as a road team, using Hershey, Pennsylvania as a home base. Their final three "home" games were held at the Rubber Bowl in Akron, Ohio. After the season ended, the league folded the Texans, the last time an NFL team failed.

Over the years, football teams have come and gone for one reason or another. Below is a list of defunct franchises along with their years of existence.

Akron Pros - Akron Indians 1920-1926
Baltimore Colts 1950-1950 
Boston Yanks - Bos/Bkn Yanks/Tigers 1944-1948
Brooklyn Dodgers - Brooklyn Tigers 1930-1944 
Brooklyn Lions 1926-1926 3-8-0 
Buffalo All-Americans - Buffalo Bisons - Buffalo Rangers 1920-1929
Canton Bulldogs 1920-1926
Chicago Tigers 1920-1920 
Cincinnati Celts 1921-1921 
Cincinnati Reds 1933-1934 
Cleveland Indians - Cleveland Bulldogs 1923-1927
Cleveland Indians 1931-1931 
Cleveland Tigers 1920-1921 
Columbus Panhandles - Columbus Tigers 1920-1926
Dallas Texans 1952-1952 
Dayton Triangles 1920-1929 
Detroit Heralds 1920-1920 
Detroit Panthers 1925-1926 
Detroit Tigers 1921-1921 
Detroit Wolverines 1928-1928 
Duluth Kelleys - Duluth Eskimos 1923-1927 
Evansville Crimson Giants 1921-1922 
Frankford Yellow Jackets 1924-1931 
Hammond Pros 1920-1926 
Hartford Blues 1926-1926 
Kansas City Blues - Kansas City Cowboys 1924-1926
Kenosha Maroons 1924-1924 
Los Angeles Buccaneers 1926-1926
Louisville Brecks - Louisville Colonels 1921-1926
Milwaukee Badgers 1922-1926 
Minneapolis Marines - Minneapolis Red Jackets 1921-1930
Muncie Flyers 1920-1921 
New York Giants 1921-1921 
New York Yankees 1927-1928 
New York Yanks - New York Bulldogs 1949-1951
Oorang Indians 1922-1923 
Orange Tornadoes - Newark Tornadoes 1929-1930
Pottsville Maroons - Boston Bulldogs 1925-1929 
Providence Steam Roller 1925-1931 
Racine Legend - Racine Tornadoes 1922-1926
Rochester Jeffersons 1920-1925 
Rock Island Independents 1920-1925 
St. Louis All-Stars 1923-1923 
St. Louis Gunners 1934-1934 
Staten Island Stapletons 1929-1932
Toledo Maroons 1922-1923 
Tonowanda Kardex 1921-1921 
Washington Senators 1921-1921 

The New York Giants used their 1st draft pick to select Southern Califonia's Frank Gifford

The Pittsburgh Steelers abandoned the Single-Wing for the T-formation, the last pro team to do so.

1952
PLAYOFFS
Home team in capitals

National Conference Playoff Game

December 28.

DETROIT 31, Los Angeles 21

The Detroit Lions go on to win their first NFL championship in 17 years, defeating the Cleveland Browns 17-7 in the 1952 NFL championship game

Major rule changes

1953

The 1953 NFL season was the 34th regular season of the National Football League.


Dallas Texans became new Baltimore Colts
A Baltimore, Maryland group headed by Carroll Rosenbloom was granted an NFL team, and was awarded the holdings of the defunct Dallas Texans organization,
January 23. The new team was named the Colts
after the previous team that folded after the 1950 NFL season.
The team put together the largest trade in league history, acquiring 10 players from Cleveland in exchange for five.
The NFL formally reinstates the dead Dallas Texans franchise as the Baltimore Colts

January 24 - The names of the American and National conferences were changed to the Eastern and Western conferences,

September 27 - Baltimore Colts's Bert Rechichar boots a record 56-yard field goal against Chicago.
Previously held by Detroits Glenn Presnell who kicked a 54-yard field goal October 7, 1934
Rechichar's record would stand for 17 years until New Orleans Saints, Tom Dempsey nailed a 63-yarder on Nov. 8 1970.

Willie Thrower became NFL's first black (African-American) quarterback when he appeared in a game for the Chicago Bears on Oct. 18; never appeared in another game and it would be 15 years before another African-American quarterback would take a snap in a pro game.

March 28  Jim Thorpe died

New York Giants coach Steve Owen ended a 24 year coaching career with a 153-108-17 record.

June 10 - Mickey McBride, founder of the Cleveland Browns, sold the franchise to a Cleveland syndicate for $600,000 headed by Dave R. Jones, June 10, 1953

November 12 - The NFL policy of blacking out home games was upheld by Judge Allan K. Grim of the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia

December 27 - The season ended when the Detroit Lions defeated the Cleveland Browns 17-16 in the 1953 NFL Championship Game for the second year in a row at Briggs Stadium, Detroit, Michigan

Major rule changes

The definition of illegal motion is clarified. A player must be moving directly forward at the snap to be considered illegally in motion.

1954

The 1954 NFL season was the 35th regular season of the National Football League.

The Canadian Football League began a series of raids on NFL teams, signing quarterback Eddie LeBaron and defensive end Gene Brito of Washington and defensive tackle Arnie Weinmeister of the Giants, among others.

Fullback Joe Perry of the 49ers became the first player in league history to gain 1,000 yards rushing in consecutive seasons.

September 7 - Pop Warner died of Throat cancer in Palo Alto, California at the age of 83.

Weeb Ewbank named head coach for Colts
September. 26 - Colts ordered plastic facemasks for helmets for first time

December 26 - The season ended when the Cleveland Browns turned around and defeated the Detroit Lions 56-10 in the 1954 NFL Championship Game at Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland, OhioMajor rule changes

Whenever it is raining, or whenever the field is wet and slippery, the offensive team can request a new, dry playable ball at any time.

1955

The 1955 NFL season was the 36th regular season of the National Football League.

The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Louisville quarterback Johhny Unitis on the 9th round. They then cut Unitis without letting him appear in a preseason game.

The Baltimore Colts made an 80-cent phone call to Johnny Unitas and signed him as a free agent.
October 1 - Baltimore Colt's Alan Ameche becomes the first rookie in league history to top 100 yards rushing in his first two games after totaling 153 yards against Detroit. He had 194 yards in his debut vs. The Chicago Bears.


The Birth of Overtime  

August 28 - The sudden-death overtime rule was used for the first time in a pre-season game between the Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants at Portland, Oregon. The Rams won 23-17 three minutes into overtime.

The bout laid the foundation for the NFL to adopt the overtime rule for regular season games, finally being approved in 1974


First Football Game on Color TV

NBC televises a college football game between Miami and Georgia Tech - the first broadcast of a football game in color.

NBC paid $100,000 to replace DuMont as the national television network for the NFL Championship Game.
Quarterback, Otto Graham, played his last game as the Cleveland Browns defeated the Los Angeles Rams 38 -14 in the 1955 NFL Championship Game, December 26 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles.
Graham had quarterbacked the Browns to 10 championship-game appearances in 10 years.

Major rule changes

The ball is dead immediately when the ball carrier touches the ground with any part of his body except his hands or feet while in the grasp of an opponent.

A new exception is made in regards to scoring a safety: When a defender intercepts a pass, his intercepting momentum carries him into his own end zone, and he is stopped before returning the ball back into the field of play, then the ball will be next put in play at the spot of the interception.

The sudden-death overtime rule was used for the first time in a preseason game between the Rams and Giants at Portland, Oregon, August 28. The Rams won 23-17 three minutes into overtime.

1956

The 1956 NFL season was the 37th regular season of the National Football League.

CBS became the first network to broadcast some NFL regular season games to selected television markets across the nation.

The NFL Players Association was founded.

The New York Giants moved from the Polo Grounds to Yankee Stadium.


First Wireless Communication
Coach to Quarterback

Cleveland Browns coach Paul Brown tries out the first wireless communication between coach and quarterback. A citizens band radio receiver is placed inside the helmet of QB George Ratterman. Brown attempts to relay plays to him via a transmitter on the sidelines. The effort fails when Ratterman's receiver picks up a conversation between two women.

George Halas retired as coach of the Chicago Bears, and was replaced by Paddy Driscoll.
George Halas coached the Bears at four different times
(1920-1929  -  1933-1942  -  1946-1955  -  1958-1967)

December 30
The season ended when the New York Giants crushed the Chicago Bears in the 1956 NFL Championship Game, 47-7 at Yankee Stadium, New York City.

Major rule changes

It is now illegal to grab an opponent's facemask (other than the ball carrier).

When an offensive interior lineman takes a three point stance prior to the snap, he may not move until the snap.

The ball is dead immediately when the ball carrier is contacted by a defensive player and then touches the ground with any part of his body except his hands or feet.

Using radio receivers to communicate with players on the field is prohibited.

Players are prohibited from using any artificial medium to assist in the execution of a field goal or an extra point attempt. This change is sometimes referred to as the "Lou Groza Rule" after the Cleveland Browns' hall of fame offensive tackle and placekicker. Groza would always carry a 72-inch rolled piece of adhesive tape in his helmet. Before each kick attempt, he would use it as a directional aid by unrolling the tape on the ground from the line of scrimmage to the point where the ball would be spotted for the kick.

Meanwhile, the league started to use a natural leather ball with white end stripes, instead of the white ball with black stripes, for night games.

In the draft, the number of rounds stayed at 30 throughout the decade of the 1950s. By the middle of the decade, the NFL once again felt the squeeze of competition as the Canadian Football League was attempting to gain popularity by signing big-name college stars from the United States. In order to combat the threat, the NFL held early drafts from 1956-1959. The first four rounds of the drafts were held in late November or early December and rounds 5-30 were held in January.

 

1957

The 1957 NFL season was the 38th regular season of the National Football League.

Pete Rozelle was named general manager of the Los Angeles Rams.

 Sept. 29 - Horseshoes placed on the side of Colts helmets for first time.

 October 28 - Anthony J. Morabito, founder and co-owner of the San Francisco 49ers, died of a heart attack during a game against the Chicago Bears at Kezar Stadium.

November 10 - An NFL-record crowd of 102,368 saw the 49ers at Rams game in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

November 24 - Cleveland rookie Jim Brown rushes for an NFL record 237 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Browns to a 45-31 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.

The NFL Most Valuable Player Award
As awarded by the Associated Press
Is awarded to Running Back, Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns

1957
PLAYOFFS
Home team in capitals

Western Conference Playoff Game

 December 22 - The Detroit Lions came from 20 points down to post a 31-27 playoff victory over the San Francisco 49ers

December 29 - The season ended when the Detroit Lions crushed the Cleveland Browns 59-14 in the 1957 NFL Championship Game.

Major rule changes

During sudden-death overtime, rules for time outs is the same as in a regular game, including the last two minutes of the second and third quarters.

1958

The 1958 NFL season was the 39th regular season of the National Football League.

January 29 - The idea of the bonus pick, which began in 1947, ran full cycle and was abandoned after the 1958 draft.
By that time, each team in the league had been awarded the first overall pick in the annual draft, and teams resumed picking in reverse order of league standing.
 The last selection was quarterback King Hill of Rice by the Chicago Cardinals.

Halas reinstated himself again as coach of the Chicago Bears.
George Halas coached the Bears at four different times
(1920-1929  -  1933-1942  -  1946-1955  -  1958-1967)

Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns gained an NFL-record 1,527 yards rushing. In a divisional playoff game, the Giants held Brown to eight yards and defeated Cleveland 10-0.

 Lamar Hunt (son and heir of Texas oilman H. L. Hunt) attempted to bring an NFL franchise to his hometown of Dallas but was rejected by the league.

1958
PLAYOFFS
Home team in capitals

Eastern Conference Playoff Game

N.Y. GIANTS 10, Cleveland 0


1958 NFL Championship Game

First Overtime NFL Championship 

December 28 - The Baltimore Colts, coached by Weeb Ewbank, defeated the New York Giants 23-17 in the first sudden-death overtime in an NFL Championship Game,  winning the colts first NFL title.
The game ended when Colts fullback Alan Ameche scored on a one-yard touchdown run after 8:15 of overtime.
The game would be known to American football fans as 
"The Greatest Game Ever Played".

Many football fans regard the 1958 NFL Championship Game as the first overtime game in NFL history. Indeed it was the first playoff overtime game, but it was not the first-ever overtime game.
That occurred three years earlier on August 28, 1955 in a pre-season game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New York Giants.

1959

The 1959 NFL season was the 40th regular season of the National Football League.

January 28 - Vince Lombardi was named head coach of the Green Bay Packers.


First Blimp

CBS director Frank Chirkinian convinces the president of CBS Sports to pay $3,000 to put a camera in a blimp hovering over the Orange Bowl college game in Miami. Blimps and football games have gone together like mustard on hot dogs ever since.

Tim Mara, the co-founder of the New York Giants, died, February 17.


Intentions of The AFL

A second attempt to bring an NFL franchise to his hometown of Dallas was also unsuccessful. Lamar Hunt (son and heir of Texas oilman H. L. Hunt) was advised by league officials to contact the owners of the Chicago Cardinals, who offered to sell Hunt a 20 percent stake in the team.
Hunt rejected the offer, and it was then that he began to envision not just a new team in the NFL, but an entirely new league that was to drastically change the face of pro football forever.
Lamar Hunt, who founded the American Football League with six original cities - Dallas, New York, Houston, Denver, Los Angeles and Minneapolis (Oakland replaced Minneapolis).

October 28 - Ralph C. Wilson was awarded an AFL francise

November 16 - Boston was granted an AFL francise
Lamar Hunt was the cornerstone, the integrity of the league. Without him, there would have been no AFL.

Hunt announced his intentions to form a second pro football league.
The first meeting was held in Chicago, August 14, and consisted of Hunt representing Dallas; Bob Howsam, Denver; K.S. (Bud) Adams, Houston; Barron Hilton, Los Angeles; Max Winter and Bill Boyer, Minneapolis; and Harry Wismer, New York City. They made plans to begin play in 1960.
The new league was named the American Football League, August 22.

Hunt named his team the Dallas Texans (now Kansas City Chiefs ) and hired Hank Stram, an assistant coach at the University of Miami, Florida, as his head coach.
Located in his hometown, Lamar Hunt  would face direct competition from
the NFL's newest expansion team, the Dallas Cowboys.

August 3 - Franchise Owner-President K. S. "Bud" Adams Jr. , announces Houston's entry into the American Football League.
Adams hires Lou Rymkus to coach his team in Houston known as the Oilers later to be known as today's Tennessee Titans.
Adams names the team Oilers - 
"for sentimental and social reasons, in that it is the largest part of the economy and workforce in Texas, as many cities were found on oil."

August 14, Bob Howsam, a successful minor league baseball owner who built Bears Stadium in the 1940s, was awarded an AFL charter franchise to be named The Denver Broncos.
Severely limited financially, Howsam clothed his first team in used uniforms from the defunct Copper Bowl in Tucson, Ariz. Making the uniforms particularly joke-worthy were the vertically-striped socks that completed the Broncos' dress.
Two years later, when Jack Faulkner took over as head coach and general manager, the socks were destroyed in a public burning ceremony.

Also on August 14, Barron Hilton, a 32-year-old hotel executive, was awarded an AFL charter franchise for Los Angeles.
Barron Hilton agreed after his general manager, Frank Ready picked the Chargers name when he purchased an AFL franchise for Los Angeles.
"I liked it because they were yelling 'charge' and sounding the bugle at Dodgers Stadium and at USC games."
(now San Diego Chargers) 

October 28, The Buffalo Bills began their pro football life as the seventh team to be admitted to the new American Football League. The franchise was awarded to Ralph C. Wilson.

August 14 - Charter franchise granted to New York and Harry Wismer in November to be known as The New York Titans.
(now New York Jets ) 
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Receiver Don Maynard, a future Hall of Famer, was the 1st player to sign with the New York Titans.

November 16 - Professional football arrived in New England when a group of local businessmen, led by former public relations executive William H.Sullivan, Jr. was awarded the eighth and final franchise in the new American Football League to be called The Boston Patriots.
(Now The New England Patriots)

November 22 - The first AFL draft, lasting 33 rounds, was held

November 30 - Joe Foss was named AFL Commissioner, .

December 2 - An additional draft of 20 rounds was held by the AFL

The AFL is formally organized with the charter members: 

EASTERN DIVISION 

Boston Patriots
Buffalo Bills
Houston Oilers
(to be known as today's Tennessee Titans)
New York Titans

WESTERN DIVISION

Dallas Texans
Denver Broncos
Los Angeles Chargers

In November, Minneapolis owner Max Winter announced his intent to leave the AFL in order to accept a franchise offer from the NFL.
January 27th (1960), The Minneapolis franchise formally withdrew from the AFL and was replaced on January 30 (1960) by one in Oakland, California, owned by a group of local investors headed by Chet Soda.

October 11 - tragedy struck as NFL Commissioner Bert Bell died of a heart attack suffered at Franklin Field, Philadelphia, during the last two minutes of a game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
 League Treasurer Austin Gunsel was named interim commissioner for the rest of the season.
NFL treasurer Austin Gunsel served as president in the office of commissioner following the death of Bell (Oct. 11, 1959) until the election of Rozelle (Jan. 26, 1960).

December 27 - The season ended when the Baltimore Colts defeated the New York Giants for the second year in a row, 31-16 in the 1959 NFL Championship Game at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland .

1960

The 1960 NFL season was the 41st regular season of the National Football League.

January 26 - Before the season, Pete Rozelle was elected NFL Commissioner as a compromise choice on the twenty-third ballot. Rozelle moved the league offices to New York City.

 
The American Football League (AFL) is established

The American Football League, or AFL,
was a professional league of American football which operated from 1960 to 1969.
There were three earlier, unrelated, and unsuccessful football leagues with the name of "American Football League",

one in 1926,
one in 1936-1937,
and
one in 1940-1941

On August 14, 1959, Seeing that a profit could be made from professional football, at the call of Dallas businessman Lamar Hunt, a new professional football league to be called the American Football League (AFL) was organized to begin play as a rival to the NFL. Hunt was elected AFL president January 26.
 The whole idea seemed so far-fetched, even after AFL teams started playing, that the team owners became known as the "Foolish Club."

Almost every element that makes pro football the world's most popular sport that it is today can be traced to the American Football League and the huge changes its presence eventually brought to the sport.

AFL Charter memberships included 

Boston Patriots

     (to be known as today's New England Patriots)

Buffalo Bills

Houston Oilers

     (to be known as today's Tennessee Titans)

New York Titans

    (to be known as today's New York Jets)

Dallas Texans

Denver Broncos

Los Angeles Chargers

Kansas City Chiefs

*Oakland Raiders
*Minneapolis

 *January 27th, The Minneapolis franchise formally withdrew from the AFL and was replaced on January 30 by one in Oakland, California, owned by a group of local investors headed by Chet Soda.

The American Football League was formally organized on August 14, 1959. However, the Oakland Raiders did not become the eighth member of the new league until January 1960, when they were selected as a replacement for the Minneapolis franchise, which defected to the NFL.

The Oakland Raiders signed Tom Flores as starting quarterback. Flores became the first Hispanic quarterback in professional football.

January 1 - The Houston Oilers (to be known as today's Tennessee Titans)  signed No. 1 draft pick Billy Cannon of Louisianna State

January 28 - Minneapolis was given an NFL franchise for Minnesota which is later named the Minnesota Vikings and begins play in the Western Conference in 1961

 The two leagues fought bitterly for players, media attention, and profits. Standouts in the new league such as Jack Kemp, Lance Alworth, and Joe Namath helped the AFL establish itself on par with the NFL.

The NFL and AFL battled each other throughout much of the 1960's. Helping to fuel the war was stiff competition to sign key players from the college draft.
Starting in 1960, the NFL held a secret early draft to beat the AFL in signing players. Secrecy served as the norm throughout the first half of the decade, highlighted by the common practice of “kidnapping” prospects. Often times, teams would hold players in hotels until they were drafted, thereby increasing the chance that their league would sign them.

June 9 - The AFL signed a five-year television contract with ABC


The AFL begins league play

The AFL began regular-season play on Friday, September 9
(a night game)

The Denver Broncos defeated the Boston Patriots 13-10 before 21,597 at Boston in the first AFL regular-season game, September 9.

The Houston Oilers (to be known as today's Tennessee Titans) became the first-ever league champions, defeating the Chargers 24-16 in the AFL Championship Game on January 1

Attendance for the 1960 season was respectable for a new league, but not nearly that of the NFL. Whereas the more popular NFL teams in 1960 regularly saw attendance figures of 50,000+, AFL attendance generally hovered between 10-20,000.
With the low attendance came financial losses. The Raiders, for instance, lost $500,000 in their first year. In an early sign of stability, however, the AFL did not lose any teams after its first year of operation.

However, all was not peace and tranquility in The New Afl and Dallas.
January 28 - The rival National Football League had placed a team, the Dallas Cowboys, to compete with the Texans.

The fans were torn between two camps-
the Texans and the Cowboys.

Meanwhile, the NFL franchise expanded to 13 teams with the addition of the Dallas Cowboys to begin play in the Eastern Conference.

March 13th - Chicago Cardinals became St Louis Cardinals
The NFL owners voted to allow the transfer of the Chicago Cardinals. The Cardinals relocated from Chicago, Illinois to Saint Louis, Missouri, becoming the St. Louis "football" Cardinals to distinguish itself from the major league baseball team of the same name.

The (NFL) Baltimore Colts organized the first professional cheerleading squad in history. Up until then, high school squads were used on the sidelines to promote spirit.

Later on in the 1960's, The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders created a pure pom-pom "Broadway-style" dance entertainment for the crowds.

The Philadelphia Eagles defeated the Green Bay Packers 17-13 in the 1960 NFL Championship Game, December 26 at Franklin Field , Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 Nevertheless, the game signaled the rise of the Green Bay franchise under head coach Vince Lombardi. An intimidating and motivating individual, Lombardi led Green Bay to the NFL title the following year and added two more NFL championships in 1962 and 1965.

Hall of Fame halfback Paul Hornung scored an incredible 176 points during the 1960 National Football League Season. Although the mark has been challenged a few times in the past decade, it still holds up today. Making the amount of points even more impressive is that he achieved the total during a 12-game schedule.

“In all these years, when I look back on the record,” he commented, “the one thing I’m always proud of is that my record was in 12 games and it hasn’t been broken even in the 16-game season.”


Johnny Unitas compiled a string of 47 straight games in which he threw at least one touchdown pass which is referred to as pro football's "unbreakable" record.
December 11 - Unitas failed to throw a touchdown pass in a 10-3 loss at Los Angeles, snapping his NFL record streak of 47 consecutive games with a scoring toss.


Shotgun Formation 

49ers head coach Red Hickey introduced the shotgun formation on November 27, 1960 in a game against the Baltimore Colts. Hickey knew the Colts had a terrific pass rush, so in preparing for the game he had his quarterbacks practice taking snaps seven yards deep rather than from under center. This, he reasoned, would not only give his quarterbacks more time to spot receivers, but also cause the Colts to rethink their defensive alignment. He was right on both accounts.
The result was a stunning 30-22 upset of the heavily-favored Colts

Major rule changes

January 28 - The AFL adopted the two-point option on points after touchdown.

February 9 - A no-tampering verbal pact, relative to players' contracts, was agreed to between the NFL and AFL

1961

The 1961 NFL season was the 42th regular season of the National Football League.

NFL regular season became 14 games

Canton, Ohio, where the league that became the NFL was formed in 1920, was chosen as the site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, April 27.
Dick McCann, a former Redskins executive, was named executive director.

The league expanded to 14 teams with the addition of the Minnesota Vikings, after the team's owners declined to be charter members of the new American Football League.

January 14, End Willard Dewveall of the Chicago Bears played out his option and joined the Houston Oilers (to be known as today's Tennessee Titans), thus becoming the first NFL player to defect to the AFL.

The AFL approves expansion into Atlanta for 1961 

The AFL approves expansion into Chicago for 1961 

Ed McGah, Wayne Valley, and Robert Osborne bought out their partners in the ownership of the Raiders, January 17.

February 10 - Los Angeles Chargers became San Diego Chargers
The Los Angeles Chargers move to San Diego.
Even though they won the AFL Western division championship in 1960, the Los Angeles Chargers received meager fan support so Hilton, buoyed by the encouragement of San Diego sports editor Jack Murphy, moved his team 120 miles south to San Diego in 1961. Historic Balboa Stadium was expanded to 34,000 capacity to accommodate the Chargers. In San Diego, the Chargers, spurred by coach Sid Gillman, developed into one of the true glamour teams of any decade. Gillman's first teams were high-scoring, crowd-pleasing juggernauts that won divisional championships five of the AFL's first six years and the AFL title with a 51-10 win over Boston in 1963.


March 22 - Dave R. Jones sold the Cleveland Browns to a group headed by Arthur B. Modell for a record sum of $4 million dollars.
Coach Paul Brown received a new 8 year contract

April 5 - NBC was awarded a two-year contract for radio and television rights to the NFL Championship Game for $615,000 annually, $300,000 of which was to go directly into the NFL Player Benefit Plan,

 May 26 - The Howsam brothers sold the Broncos to a group headed by Calvin Kunz and Gerry Phipps,

September 30 - A bill legalizing single-network television contracts by professional sports leagues was introduced in Congress by Representative Emanuel Celler. It passed the House and Senate and was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy

November 19 - Cleveland running back Jim Brown rushes for an NFL record 242 yards and four touchdowns as the Browns beat the Philadelphia Eagles 45-24.

Minneapolis began play in the NFL, where it took the name Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings' lack of success ever since is referred to as "the curse of the AFL".

While some teams (such as the Oilers) found instant success in the AFL, others were not as fortunate. The Oakland Raiders and New York Titans struggled on and off the field during their first few seasons in the league. Oakland's eight-man ownership group was reduced to just three in 1961, after heavy financial losses their first season. Attendance for home games was poor, partly due to the fact that the team was playing in the San Francisco Bay Area, which already had an established NFL team (the San Francisco 49ers). The product on the field was also to blame. After winning six games their debut season, the Raiders won just three times combined in the 1962 and 1963 seasons.

With the Tennessee Titans off to a 1-3-1 start, Wally Lemm replaced Coach Lou Rymkus, who had led the team to the AFL title a year earlier.

December 20 - The webmaster of this site was born


Detroit Lions defeated the Cleveland Browns17-16 in the first Playoff Bowl, or Bert Bell Benefit Bowl, between second-place teams in each conference in Miami, January 7.

The season ended when the Green Bay Packers won their first NFL championship since 1944, defeating the New York Giants 37-0 in the 1961 NFL Championship Game at City Stadium, Green Bay, Wisconsin, December 31

January 1 - The Houston Oilers (to be known as today's Tennessee Titans) defeated the Los Angeles Chargers 24-16 before 32,183 fans
in the first
AFL Championship Game.
Billy Cannon is named the game's Most Valuable Player.

1962

The 1962 NFL season was the 43rd regular season of the National Football League.

January 10.- Before the season, The NFL entered into a single-network agreement with CBS for telecasting all regular-season games for $4.65 million annually

May 21 - Judge Roszel Thompson of the U.S. District Court in Baltimore ruled against the AFL in its antitrust suit against the NFL. The AFL had charged the NFL with monopoly and conspiracy in areas of expansion, television, and player signings. The case lasted two and a half years, the trial two months.

May 24 - McGah and Valley acquired controlling interest in the Oakland Raiders.

October 28 - New York Giants quarterback Y.A. Tittle completes 27 of 39 passes for 505 yards and a record-tying seven touchdown passes in the New York Giants' 49-34 victory over Washington Redskins at Yankee Stadium.

 
The New York Titans (later be known as New York Jets) fared a little better on the field but had their own financial troubles. Attendance was so low for home games that fans were moved to seats closer to the field to give the illusion of a fuller stadium on television. Things got so bad that owner Harry Wisner was unable to meet his payroll, and on November 8, 1962 the AFL took over operations of the team.

November 8 -The AFL assumed financial responsibility for the New York Titans.

After winning 4 AAFC titles, The Browns quickly won 3 in the NFL. All 7 of the titles came with Paul Brown running the organization. The legendary coach was pushed out after the 1962 season when he and new owner Art Modell clashed over control issues.

The Buffalo Bills had their first winning sesaon,
fininshing 7-6-1.

 Ernie Davis became the first African-American selected first overall in an NFL draft.
 The Washington Redskins drafted Davis in 1962 and traded his rights to the Cleveland Browns.
Tragically, Davis died of leukemia before ever getting to showcase his talents in the NFL.

With Commissioner Rozelle as referee, Daniel F. Reeves regained the ownership of the Rams, outbidding his partners in sealed-envelope bidding for the team, November 27.

The Dallas Texans defeated the Houston Oilers (to be known as today's Tennessee Titans) 20-17 for the 1962 AFL championship at Houston after 17 minutes, 54 seconds of overtime on a 25-yard field goal by Tommy Brooker, December 23.
The game lasted a record 77 minutes, 54 seconds.


January 7 - The Western Division defeats the Eastern Division 47-27 in the first AFL All-Star Game played before 20,973 in San Diego.

Judge Edward Weinfeld of the U.S. District Court in New York City upheld the legality of the NFL's television blackout within a 75-mile radius of home games and denied an injunction that would have forced the championship game between the Giants and the Packers to be televised in the New York City area, December 28.

The season ended when the Green Bay Packers defeated the New York Giants 16-7 in the 1962 NFL Championship Game at Yankee Stadium, New York City, December 30

 
Major rule changes

1963

The 1963 NFL season was the 44th regular season of the National Football League.

NFL Properties, Inc., was founded to serve as the licensing arm of the NFL.

On April 17, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle indefinitely suspended Green Bay Packers running back Paul Hornung and Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras for gambling on their own teams, as well as other NFL games. In addition, five other Detroit players were fined $2000 each for placing bets on one game in which they did not participate in.
The Detroit Lions Football Company was also fined $2,000 on each of two counts for failure to report information promptly and for lack of sideline supervision.

Paul Brown, head coach of the Cleveland Browns since their inception, was fired with 6 years remaining in his contract and replaced by Blanton Collier.

Al Davis became Head Coah for the Oakland Raiders replacing Red Conkright. Davis was awarded AFL Coach of The Year.
Al Davis has since become The Raiders owner
To become inducted into The Hall of Fame in 1992

Don Shula replaced Weeb Ewbank as head coach of the Baltimore Colts.

Dallas Texans became Kansas City Chiefs
The Dallas Texans became the second AFL team to relocate. Lamar Hunt felt that despite winning the league championship in 1962, the Texans could not succeed financially in the same market as the NFL Dallas Cowboys. After meetings with Atlanta and Miami, Hunt decided on Kansas City as the new home for his team. On May 22 Hunt announced the move, and the team was christened the Kansas City Chiefs on May 26.

 March 28New York Titans became New York Jets
In spite of it all, the New York Titans had reasonable success on the field but they were a box office disaster.
A five-man syndicate headed by David (Sonny) Werblin, purchased the bankrupt franchise for $1,000,000.
The team's name was changed to the New York Jets April 15 and hired Weeb Ewbank as head coach.
The Jets moved from the antiquated Polo Grounds to newly-constructed Shea Stadium, where the Jets set an AFL attendance mark of 45,665 in the season opener against the Denver Broncos.

May 11 - The AFL allowed the Jets and Raiders to select players from other franchises in hopes of giving the league more competitive balance.

May 23 - NBC was awarded exclusive network broadcasting rights for the 1963 AFL Championship Game for $926,000.

September 7 - The Pro Football Hall of Fame was dedicated at Canton, Ohio
The 19,000-square-foot, two-building Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio is officially opened.
The Hall's charter class of 17 enshrinees are inducted:

Sammy Baugh
Bert Bell
Joe Carr
Dutch Clark
Harold "Red" Grange
George Halas
Mel Hein
Wilbur "Pete" Henry
Cal Hubbard

Don Hutson
Curly Lambeau
Tim Mara
George Preston Marshall
John "Blood" McNally
Bronko Nagurski
Ernie Nevers
Jim Thorpe.

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed the lower court's finding for the NFL in the $10-million suit brought by the AFL, ending three and a half years of litigation, November 21.

On November 24th, just two days after the assassination of President Kennedy, the NFL played its normal schedule of games, to much criticism.

December 28
The Boston Patriots defeated Buffalo Bills 26-8 in the first divisional playoff game in AFL history,

Jim Brown of Cleveland rushed for an NFL single-season record 1,863 yards.

Instant Replay

For the first time, CBS uses instant replay to let fans review the action during the December. 7 telecast of an Army-Navy game.

NFL Championship Game

The season ended when the Chicago Bears defeated the New York Giants in the NFL Championship Game.

December 29 - Chicago 14, New York 10 at Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois

December 29 - The Bears defeated the Giants 14-10 in the NFL Championship Game, a record sixth and last title for Halas in his thirty-sixth season as the Bears' coach.

1964

The 1964 NFL season was the 45th regular season of the National Football League.

 Before the season started, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle reinstated Green Bay Packers running back Paul Hornung and Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras March 16, who had been suspended for the 1963 season due to gambling.

Instant replay on CBS becomes a standard for NFL broadcasts.

January 10 - William Clay Ford, the Detroit Lions' president since 1961, purchased the team.

With Dallas Cowboys Head coach original 5 year contract about to expire, coach Tom Landry was given a 10 year contract despite failing to post a winning record.

 January 21 - A group representing the late James P. Clark sold the Eagles to a group headed by Jerry Wolman

January 23 - Carroll Rosenbloom, the majority owner of the Colts since 1953, acquired complete ownership of the team

On January 29 the AFL league signed a lucrative five-year, $36 million television contract with NBC, to start in the 1965 season. This gave the league money it desperately needed to compete with the NFL for talent.

March 5 - Commissioner Rozelle negotiated an agreement on behalf of the NFL clubs to purchase Ed Sabol's Blair Motion Pictures, which was renamed NFL Films

April 17 - CBS submitted the winning bid of $14.1 million per year for the NFL regular-season television rights for 1964 and 1965, January 24. CBS acquired the rights to the championship games for 1964 and 1965 for $1.8 million per game.

October 25 - (Minnesota Vikings vs. San Francisco 49ers)  Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall picks up a fumble but accidentally runs 66 yards the wrong way, scoring a safety for the 49ers before he realizes his mistake. Fortunately for Marshall, the Vikings prevailed, 27-22.

November 15 - Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson fumbles a record seven times against The San Diego Chargers.

Pete Gogolak of Cornell signed a contract with the Buffalo Bills, becoming the first soccer-style kicker in pro football.

The New York Jets used their first draft pick to select Ohio State running back Matt Snell.

December 26 - Buffalo Bills defeated The San Diego Chargers, 20-7 in the AFL Championship Game, giving the Bills their first title.

The NFL season ended when The Cleveland Browns won the Eastern Conference title game 52-20 over the New York Giants
and
defeated the Baltimore Colts 27-0 in the NFL Championship Game, December 27 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio

1965

The 1965 NFL season was the 46th regular season of the National Football League.

According to a Harris survey, sports fans chose professional football (41 percent) as their favorite sport, overtaking baseball (38 percent) for the first time.

January 22 - New York Giants quartrback Y.A. Tittle announced his retirement.

February 15 - The NFL teams pledged not to sign college seniors until completion of all their games, including bowl games, and empowered the Commissioner to discipline the clubs up to as much as the loss of an entire draft list for a violation of the pledge

For years groups had no success trying to lure an existing franchise to the large, untapped southeastern market.
 Finally on
June 30 - Atlanta was awarded an NFL franchise named The Atlanta Falcons to begin play in the Eastern Conference in 1966 with Insurance Executive Rankin Smith, Sr. as owner.
Smith paid $8.5 million to join the league.
The Falcons first coach was Norb Hecker, who had served on Vince Lombardi's staff with The Greenbay Packers.

The AFL expanded to nine teams August 16 when Minneapolis attorney Joseph Robbie and television star Danny Thomas were awarded a franchise on August 16 for a fee of $7.5 million. Their team, named the Dolphins by contest, starts play in the AFL's East division in 1966. Joseph Joe Robbie was an American lawyer and entrepreneur -  Danny Thomas was an American nightclub comedian and television and film actor of Lebanese Maronite descent.

Former Cleveland Browns Coach Paul Brown began exploring the possibillity of a second pro football francise in Ohio, after Brown helped found The Cleveland Browns, only to be pushed out of the francise he'd pretty much created.

September 19 - Field Judge Burl Toler became the first black (African-American) official in NFL history,

September 26 - Baltimore Colts running back Lenny Moore failed to score a touchdown vs. The Green Bay Packers, ending his record streak of 18 straight games with a touchdown.

November 21 - An overflow crowd of 76,251 jams the Cotton Bowl, giving Dallas its first home sellout. The Browns beat the Cowboys 24-17.

December 26 - In the AFL Championship Game, the Bills again defeated the Chargers, 23-0, .

December 29 - CBS acquired the rights to the NFL regular-season games in 1966 and 1967, with an option for 1968, for $18.8 million per year.

Because the Green Bay Packers and Baltimore Colts ended up tied in the Western Conference standings after the regular season ended, a conference playoff game was held in Green Bay. Although a single championship game between conference winners was the current format for the league.

The 1965 Playoff Bowl
(a consolation game between the second place team from each conference)
took place on January 9, 1966.
The Colts
defeated
the Dallas Cowboys, 35-3.

In the 1965 Western Conference playoff game,
neither Bart Starr nor Johnny Unitas
(nor the Colt's reserve Gary Cuozzo) played in the game.
Green Bay defeated Baltimore 13-10 in sudden-death overtime when Chandler kicked a 25-yard field goal for the Packers after 13 minutes, 39 seconds of overtime, December 26, 1965 at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

The Packers went on to defeat the Cleveland Browns 23-12 in the 1965 NFL Championship Game at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin January 2, 1966.
reckoned as part of the 1965 NFL season
The last before the Super Bowl era.

Major rule changes

February 19

A sixth official, the Line Judge, is added to the officiating crew. This change is sometimes referred to as the "Fran Tarkenton Rule" after the Minnesota Vikings quarterback, who developed the nickname scrambler as he ran around the backfield to avoid being sacked by the opposition. With the Line Judge stationed on the line of scrimmage opposite the Head Linesman, it made it easier for the officials to judge whether or not Tarkenton or any mobile quarterback crossed over the line before throwing the ball.

April 5.

The color of the officials' penalty flags was changed from white to bright gold.

Meanwhile, the NFL's war with the rival AFL began to increase as the two leagues competed for the top players coming out of college.
Prior to the season, both the NFL's Chicago Bears and the AFL's Kansas City Chiefs selected running back Gale Sayers in their respective league drafts. Sayers eventually decided to sign with the NFL's Bears in a victory for the established league.

A similar situation occurred when the St. Louis Cardinals (NFL) and New York Jets (AFL) both drafted University of Alabama quarterback Joe Namath. But this time the AFL emerged the victor. On January 2, Namath signed a $427,000 contract with the Jets.
It was the highest amount of money ever paid to a collegiate football player. The signing was important not just for the Jets (one of the worst teams in the league)
but for the AFL as well.
This small victory for the AFL would lead to an even bigger one several years later when "Broadway" Joe took the Jets to victory in Super Bowl III.

This war between the AFL and the NFL would escalate until just before the 1966 season, when they would agree to merge and create a new AFL-NFL World Championship Game between the winners of the two leagues.

1966

The 1966 NFL season was the 47th regular season of the National Football League.

First year of Super Bowl (actually played in January 1967)

The league expanded to 15 teams with the addition of the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins. This was the last season that the NFL had just two divisions, and that the conference champions went directly to the NFL Championship Game without playing in playoff games.

November 1 - (which happens to be All Saints Day) New Orleans was awarded an NFL franchise,  to be later named the New Orleans Saints and to begin play in the Eastern Conference in 1967.
John Mecom, Jr., of Houston was designated majority stockholder and president of the franchise, December 15.

The sports world was rocked when Hall of Fame fullback Jim Brown announced his retirement.
Jim Brown, arguably the greatest runner in league history, shocked the sports world when he announced his retirement from pro football. The Hall of Fame fullback declared his intentions during a brief and hurriedly arranged press conference while on location for the filming of the movie, The Dirty Dozen, in which he starred.
“It was the right time to retire,” he commented the following day as he addressed the media. “You should get out on top.”
Indeed, Brown was on top of the football world. His combination of speed and sheer power made him one of the most feared players of his era.

The St. Louis Cardinals moved into newly constructed Busch Memorial Stadium.

February 1 - Buddy Young became the first black (African-American) to work in the league office when Commissioner Rozelle named him director of player relations.

February 14. - The rights to the 1966 and 1967 NFL Championship Games were sold to CBS for $2 million per game

Cincinnati leaders approved construction of a new multi-purpose stadium to open in 1970

August 25 -Barron Hilton sold the Chargers to a group headed by Eugene Klein and Sam Schulman,

September 18 - Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas throws four touchdown passes to surpass Y.A. Tittle as the NFL's career leader with 212. He finished his career with 290 touchdown passes.

October 30 - Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas throws for 252 yards to pass Y.A. Tittle (28,339 yards) as the NFL's all-time passing yards leader. Unitas finished his career with 40,239 yards passing.

In the Miami Dolphins first ever played game, Joe Auer returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.

November 27 - The Washington Redskins beat the New York Giants 72-41 in the highest-scoring game in league history. The Redskins' also establish a new record for points by one team in a regular season game.

1966 saw the rivalry between the AFL and NFL
reach an all-time peak.

On April 7 Joe Foss, the only commissioner the AFL had ever known, resigned.
 Al Davis, the head coach and general manager of the Raiders, was named to replace him, April 8.
 Al Davis had been instrumental in turning around the fortunes of the franchise. No longer content with trying to outbid the NFL for talent, the AFL under Davis actively started to recruit players already on NFL squads. NFL players such as Mike Ditka, Roman Gabriel and John Brodie were offered and/or signed to lucrative AFL contracts.

The same month Davis was named commissioner,
(AFL) Kansas City Chiefs owner, Lamar Hunt
 and
(NFL) Dallas Cowboys owner Tex Schramm
held a series of secret meetings in Dallas to discuss their concerns over rapidly increasing player salaries, as well as the practice of player poaching. Hunt and Schramm completed the basic groundwork for a merger by the end of May.


On June 8, 1966 the merger was officially announced by Rozelle.
The NFL and AFL effectively merge
with plans to go to a 2 conference 4 division setup in 1970 or after.

Thus, the AFL became the first to successfully challenge the NFL in that league's history.

Some AFL fans had wanted the AFL and the NFL to set up a joint organizational structure like Major League Baseball where one entity operates two different sports leagues.
Instead, the AFL gave up its name and logo to join the older league, though the AFC logo used up to today was inspired by the old AFL logo.

The NFL went on to adopt many of the innovative elements introduced by the AFL,
including names on player jerseys, official scoreboard clocks and gate and revenue sharing.
The AFL's challenge to the NFL also laid the groundwork for the Super Bowl, which has become the standard for championship contests.

The AFL-NFL merger agreement

Under the agreement

The draft became the battleground for a war between the National Football League and American Football League. The rival leagues held separate drafts through 1966 before holding joint drafts from 1967-1969.
When the leagues merged at the end of the decade,
the draft rivalry was over, 
and a new rivalry, 
the Super Bowl,
had begun.

NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle would remain as commissioner of the merged league.

The AFL also agreed to pay indemnities of $18 million to the NFL over 20 years.
In protest, Davis resigned as AFL commissioner on July 25 rather than remain until the completion of the merger.

October 21 - Congress approved the AFL-NFL merger, passing legislation exempting the agreement itself from antitrust action

The NFL was realigned for the 1967-69 seasons into the Capitol and Century Divisions in the Eastern Conference and the Central and Coastal Divisions in the Western Conference, December 2. New Orleans and the New York Giants agreed to switch divisions in 1968 and return to the 1967 alignment in 1969.

Atlanta is moved to the Western Conference. For the 1967 season,

The AFL-NFL war reached its peak, as the leagues spent a combined $7 million to sign their 1966 draft choices. The NFL signed 75 percent of its 232 draftees, the AFL 46 percent of its 181. Of the 111 common draft choices, 79 signed with the NFL, 28 with the AFL, and 4 went unsigned.

This was seventh season for the Dallas Cowboys and their first winning record since entering the league in 1960. They were champions of the NFL's Eastern Conference with a 10-3-1 record.
The Packers won the Western Conference with a 12-2 record, their eighth consecutive winning season under head coach Vince Lombardi.

1966 - 1967

SUPER BOWL I

Green Bay (NFL) 35, Kansas City (AFL) 10

The first ever AFL-NFL World Championship Game in professional American football, later to be known as Super Bowl I, was played on January 15, 1967 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California.

The National Football League (NFL) champion Green Bay Packers scored 3 second-half touchdowns en route to a 35–10 win over the American Football League (AFL) champion Kansas City Chiefs.

Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr earned the very first Super Bowl MVP in NFL history by throwing 16 of 23 for 250 yards and two touchdowns, with 1 interception.

The first Super Bowl witnessed the first dual-network, color-coverage simulcast of a sports event in history, and attracted the largest viewership to ever see a sporting event up to that time. The Nielsen rating indicated that 73 million fans watched all or part of the game on one of the two networks, CBS or NBC.
In actuality, the game was a contest between the two leagues and the two networks.
CBS' allegiance was to the NFL.
NBC's loyalty was to the AFL
a league it had virtually created with its network dollars.

Currently, there is no known complete videotape of either the CBS or the NBC telecast of the game, as both networks eventually taped over their copies. Television and sports archivists remain on the lookout.
(At least one small sample of the telecast survives, recording Max McGee's opening touchdown.)

Due to NBC not being back in time from a halftime commercial break for the start of the second half, the first kickoff was stopped by the game's officials and was kicked again once NBC was back on the air.

 The Green Bay Packers were each paid a salary of $15,000 as the winning team.
The Chiefs were paid $7,500 each.

Since officials from the NFL and AFL wore different uniform designs, a "neutral" uniform was designed for this game. These uniforms had the familiar black and white stripes, but the sleeves were all black with the official's uniform number. This design was also worn in the next three Super Bowls, but was discontinued after the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger (and thus before Super Bowl V) when the AFL officials became part of the NFL's officiating staff

The 1966 National Football League Championship Game determined the NFL's champion, which would meet the AFL's champion in Super Bowl I, then formally referred to as simply the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game.
The NFL Championship Game was held at the Cowboys' home stadium, the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, even though the Green Bay Packers had a superior regular season record.
Prior to the 1975 season, playoff sites were determined on a rotational basis, rather than regular season records.

The 1966 National Football League Championship Game was played on January 1, 1967,
the second consecutive year that the NFL season ended in January, rather than December.

January 1 - Green Bay earned the right to represent the NFL in the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game by defeating Dallas 34-27.
The same day, Kansas City defeated Buffalo 31-7 to represent the AFL.

The NFL Green Bay Packers then went on to beat the American Football League's Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
in the first annual
AFL-NFL World Championship Game -
later to be known as Super Bowl I

Although the official title of the game was the AFL-NFL World Championship Game, media at the time almost always used the then-unofficial name "Super Bowl."

 

Super Bowl I was the only Super Bowl in history that was not a sellout in terms of attendance. Because of this, the game was blacked out in the Los Angeles area. Days before the game, local newspapers printed editorials about what they viewed as an exorbitant $12 price for tickets, and wrote stories about how to pirate the signal from TV stations outside the Los Angeles area.

The entertainment of Super Bowl I pales in comparison to the performances featured in the Super Bowls of today. Instead of famous singers and musicians, the marching bands of University of Arizona and University of Michigan both performed the national anthem and during halftime.

Due to NBC not being back in time from a halftime commercial break for the start of the second half, the first kickoff was stopped by the game's officials and was kicked again once NBC was back on the air.

Currently, there is no known complete videotape of either the CBS or the NBC telecast of the game, as both networks eventually taped over their copies. Television and sports archivists remain on the lookout.
(At least one small sample of the telecast survives, recording Max McGee's opening touchdown.)

The Green Bay Packers were each paid a salary of $15,000 as the winning team. The Chiefs were paid $7,500 each

December 13 - The rights to the Super Bowl for four years were sold to CBS and NBC for $9.5 million,

Major rule changes

May 16 - goal posts were standardized in the NFL. They were to be between 3 to 4 inches in diameter, painted bright yellow, with two non-curved supports offset from the goal line, and uprights 20 feet above the crossbar.
This new goal post rule is often referred to as the "Don Chandler Rule", the kicker for the Green Bay Packers. Although widely denied, the height increase of the uprights was in reaction to the previous season's Western Conference playoff game in Green Bay. Chandler kicked a high 27-yard field goal, near the upright, that tied the game with under two minutes remaining. The game went to the fourteenth minute of overtime when Chandler hit a 25-yard field goal (uncontroversial) that finally defeated the Baltimore Colts.
In 1967, the new "slingshot" goal post would be made standard, with one curved support from the ground. In 1974, the goal posts would be returned to the end line, and the uprights would be extended to 30 feet above the crossbar.

1967

The 1967 NFL season was the 48th regular season of the National Football League.

New Orleans Saints began play

NFL split into two conferences and four divisions
The league expanded to 16 teams with the addition of the New Orleans Saints. The league's teams were realigned into four divisions: the Capitol and Century Divisions in the Eastern Conference, and the Central and Coastal Divisions in the Western Conference.

The conferences will be set up as follows:

EASTERN CONFERENCE 

AFL

Houston Oilers
(to be known as today's Tennessee Titans)
New York Jets
Miami Dolphins
Buffalo Bills
Boston Patriots

NFL

CAPITOL DIVISION 

Dallas Cowboys
New Orleans Saints
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins 

CENTURY DIVISION 

Cleveland Browns
New York Giants
Pittsburgh Steelers
St. Louis Cardinals 

WESTERN CONFERENCE 

AFL

Oakland Raiders
Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers
Denver Broncos 

CENTRAL DIVISION 

Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings 

COSTAL DIVISION 

Atlanta Falcons
Baltimore Colts
Los Angeles Rams
San Francisco 49ers 


New York will move to the Capitol Division for 1968, then back to the Century Division for 1969. Likewise, New Orleans will move to the Century Division for 1968, then back to the Capitol Division for 1969.

March 14 - The First combined AFL-NFL draft,

Part of the merger agreement that saw the NFL and AFL become one league was that the two leagues would hold a joint draft beginning in 1967.
The first pick overall was awarded to the expansion New Orleans Saints. The Saints traded the pick to the Baltimore Colts in return for QB Gary Cuozzo, OL Butch Allison, and a 17th-round pick in that year’s draft.
The Colts promptly tapped Michigan State defensive tackle Charles “Bubba” Smith as the number one pick overall.


May 24 - The AFL awarded a franchise to begin play in 1968 to Cincinnati becoming the second AFL expansion franchise. A group with Paul Brown as part owner, general manager, and head coach, was awarded The Cincinnati Bengals franchise.

The Bengals were the tenth and final team to begin play as an AFL franchise. In a clear indication of the success of the AFL, Paul Brown paid $10,000,000 for the Bengals franchise-four hundred times more than the original AFL franchise value of $25,000 only eight years earlier.

May 28 - Arthur B. Modell, the president of the Cleveland Browns, was elected president of the NFL

August 5 - An AFL team defeated an NFL team for the first time, when The Denver Broncos beat Detroit Lions 13-7 in a preseason game.
Also on this day, Defensive back Emlen Tunnell of the New York Giants became the first black (African-American) player to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

December 24 - New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath passes for 343 yards in a 42-32 win at San Diego to become the first player to throw for 4,000 yards in a season (4,007).
The Jets finished 8-5-1 for their first winning season.

The Miami Dolphins made Purdue quarterback Bob Griese their 1st round draft choice.

Oakland Raiders traded starting quarterback Tom Flores to the Buffalo Bills.

The Baltimore Colts had tied for the NFL's best record at 11-1-2, but were excluded from the four team playoff after losing the divisional tiebreaker to the L.A. Rams. The other three division winners had only nine victories.

Norm Van Brocklin resigned as Minnesota Vikings coach and was replaced by Bud Grant (coach of the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers).
Former NFL quarterback Jim Finks became General Manager.

Los Angeles won the Coastal Division based on better point differential in head-to-head games (net 24 points) vs. Baltimore

Head Coach George Halas of The Chicago Bears retired after 40 years with 324 victories.
Although George S. Halas "officially" retired from the Bears after the 1967 football season, he was far from done.  He kept an office at Bears headquarters, and took back over presidency of the team following his son Mugs' untimely death in 1979.

Major rule changes

February 22

The "slingshot" goalpost, with one curved support from the ground and offset behind the crossbar, was made standard in the NFL. This replaced the previous year's offset goalpost, which had two non-curved supports from the ground. Before the introduction of the offset goalpost, the supports were directly on the goal line.

A six-foot-wide border around the field was also made standard in the league. Its outer edge designates the closest that non-players can be to the field, and thus enables the game officials to have a running lane to work in.

December 31 - The Oakland Raiders appeared in the playoffs for the first time, beating the Houston Oilers 40-7 for the AFL Championship.

1967
PLAYOFFS

The NFL playoffs following the 1967 NFL season determined who would represent the league in Super Bowl II.

This was the first season that the NFL used a four-team playoff tournament. The four division winners advanced to the postseason.

Although the Baltimore Colts (11-1-2) had tied for the best record in the league, they lost the new division tie-breaker to the Los Angeles Rams and were excluded from the playoffs.

Home field in the playoffs was still determined by a yearly rotation. Seeding the playoff teams by regular season records did not occur until the 1975 season. This is why the Rams (11-1-2) played a road game against the Packers (9-4-1).

Conference championships

Eastern Conference

Dallas Cowboys 52, Cleveland Browns 14
December 24, 1967 at Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas

Western Conference

Green Bay Packers 28, Los Angeles Rams 7
    December 23, 1967 at Milwaukee County Stadium, Milwaukee, Wisconsin


NFL championship

The NFL season concluded on December 31, when the Green Bay Packers defeated the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 in the 1967 NFL Championship Game
(in a game that would be known as the Ice Bowl).

Green Bay Packers 21, Dallas Cowboys 17
December 31, 1967 at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

 Two weeks later . . .

1967 - 1968

Super Bowl II

Green Bay (NFL) 33, Oakland (AFL) 14
January 14, 1968
at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida.
Ending the 1967 NFL Season

The second AFL-NFL World Championship Game.

Aided by kicker Don Chandler's 4 field goals and defensive back Herb Adderly's 60-yard interception return for a touchdown,
the National Football League (NFL) champion
 Green Bay Packers
defeated
the American Football League (AFL) champion
 Oakland Raiders,
33–14.

January 28 - This concluded Vince Lombardi's final game as the Packers' head coach, however remained as general managerThe game had the first $3-million gate in pro football history.

 Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr was named the Super Bowl MVP for the second time for his 13 of 24 passing for 202 yards and one touchdown.

The game was broadcast in the United States by CBS with Ray Scott handling the play-by-play duties and color commentators Jack Kemp and Pat Summerall in the broadcast booth. It was the first time a Super Bowl has been televised live on only one network, which has been the case for all following Super Bowl games. While the Orange Bowl was sold out for the game, unconditional blackout rules in both leagues prevented the live telecast from being shown in the Miami area.

The Grambling State University Band performed both the national anthem and during the halftime show.

Although the contest was officially known as the AFL-NFL World Championship, its unofficial name - the Super Bowl - was used in the media, the fans and the players, and the name stuck.
One theory for how the high flying name came about is that at an owner's meeting centered on what to call the game, one of the moguls had a "super ball" in his pocket that he had taken away from his youngster earlier in the day. The owner was not too taken with the long and ordinary sounding suggestions for what would become professional football's ultimate game.
Squeezing the ball, he suggested the name Super Bowl. His suggestion was not greeted with much enthusiasm by the assembled group. Nevertheless, he mentioned the name to a reporter who loved it and, as they say, the rest is history.

From the start there were special features to the Super Bowl including its designation with a Roman numeral rather than by a year.
A move on the part of NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle to give the contest a sense of class.

1968

The 1968 NFL season was the 49th regular season of the National Football League.

Cincinnati Bengals began play

As per the agreement made during the 1967 realignment, the New Orleans Saints and the New York Giants switched divisions; the Saints joined the Century Division while the Giants became part of the Capitol Division.

The conferences will be set up as follows:

EASTERN CONFERENCE 

AFL

Houston Oilers
(to be known as today's Tennessee Titans)
New York Jets
Miami Dolphins
Buffalo Bills
Boston Patriots

NFL

CAPITOL DIVISION 

Dallas Cowboys
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins 
New York Giants

CENTURY DIVISION 

Cleveland Browns
Pittsburgh Steelers
St. Louis Cardinals
New Orleans Saints

WESTERN CONFERENCE 

AFL

Oakland Raiders
Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers
Denver Broncos
Cincinnati Bengals

CENTRAL DIVISION 

Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings 

COSTAL DIVISION 

Atlanta Falcons
Baltimore Colts
Los Angeles Rams
San Francisco 49ers 

The wishbone formation was developed by Offensive Coordinator Emory Bellard and Head Coach Darrell Royal at the University of Texas in 1968. Coach Royal was always a fan of the option offense, and in looking at the personnel on the team, Coach Bellard saw three great running backs. After experimenting with family members over the summer, Coach Bellard came up with the formation.

Coach Bellard demonstrated the formation to Darrell Royal, who quickly embraced the idea. It proved to be a wise choice: Texas tied its first game running the new offense, lost the second, and then won the next thirty straight games, leading to two National Championships using the formation. Ironically, the longest running wishbone offense was run not by Texas but by their great rival, the University of Oklahoma, who ran variations of the wishbone into the mid 1990s.

It was given the name wishbone by the Houston Chronicle sportswriter Mickey Herskowitz.

Werblin sold his shares in the Jets to his partners Don Lillis, Leon Hess, Townsend Martin, and Phil Iselin, May 21.
Lillis assumed the presidency of the club, but then died July 23.
Iselin was appointed president, August 6.

 May 27 - Gearge Halas retired for the fourth and last time as head coach of the Chicago Bears with 324 career victories.
George Halas coached the Bears at four different times
(1920-1929  -  1933-1942  -  1946-1955  -  1958-1967)


The Houston Oilers (to be known as today's Tennessee Titans) left Rice Stadium for the Astrodome and became the first NFL team to play its home games indoors in a domed stadium and on artificial turf.

Fullback Larry Csonka of Syracuse was the Miami Dolphins' first round draft choice.

 

September 6 - The Cincinnati Bengals lost 29-13 to the San Diago Chargers in The Bengals franchise first game

September 15 - The Cincinnati Bengals got its first win, defeating Denver Broncos 24-10

The same day,
Baltimore Colts defeated Cleveland Browns 34-0
in the NFL Championship Game,
only to be upset by
the American Football League's (AFL) New York Jets
in Super Bowl III.

November 17 - The movie Heidi became a footnote in sports history when NBC didn't show the last 1:05 of the Jets-Raiders game, in order to permit the children's special to begin on time.

With its nationally-televised game running late, NBC begins to show the movie Heidi just moments after the Jets' Jim Turner kicked what appears to be the game-winning field goal with 1:05 remaining. While millions of irate fans, missing the finale, jammed NBC's phone lines, the Raiders scored 2 touchdowns in eight seconds during the final minute to win 43-32. Resulting from the backlash, networks establish the policy of broadcasting sporting events to its conclusion.

December 29 - Ewbank became the first coach to win titles in both the NFL and AFL when his Jets defeated the Raiders 27-23 for the AFL championship.

The 1968 NFL playoffs following the 1968 NFL season determined who would represent the league in Super Bowl III.

Eastern Conference

Cleveland Browns 31, Dallas Cowboys 20
December 21, 1968 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio

Western Conference

Baltimore Colts 24, Minnesota Vikings 14
December 22, 1968 at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland 

NFL Championship Game

Baltimore Colts 34, Cleveland Browns 0
December 29, 1968 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio


Super Bowl III


N.Y. Jets (AFL) 16, Baltimore (NFL) 7
January 12, 1969
at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida
following the 1968 regular season



The first AFL team to win the Super Bowl

The Raiders are the only original AFL team to win a Super Bowl since Kansas City won Super Bowl IV. They also are the only AFC team to win a Super Bowl since the Steelers won Super Bowl XIV and they are the only team, NFL or AFL, to play in the Super Bowl in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Super Bowl III was the third AFL-NFL Championship Game in professional American football, but the first to officially bear the name "Super Bowl."
(The two previous AFL-NFL Championship Games would retroactively be called "Super Bowls" as well.)

Three days before the game, Joe Namath appeared at the Miami Touchdown Club and boldly predicted to the audience, "The Jets will win on Sunday. I guarantee it." Interestingly enough, Namath later claimed he only made his famous "guarantee" in response to a rowdy Colts fan at the club, who boasted the Colts would easily defeat the Jets. Namath said he never intended to make such a public prediction, and never would have done so if he had not been confronted by the fan.

Jets quarterback Joe Namath, who completed 17 out of 28 passes for 206 yards yet, not one touchdown pass, was named the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player.
 Namath is the only Super Bowl MVP quarterback to not throw a touchdown in his MVP performance.

This game is regarded as one of the biggest upsets in American sports history. The National Football League champion Colts were heavily favored (in some books, by over 20 points) to defeat the American Football League champion Jets. Although the upstart AFL had successfully forced the long-established NFL into a merger agreement three years earlier, the AFL was not generally respected as having the same calibre of talent as the NFL. Plus, the AFL representatives were heavily defeated in the first two Super Bowls.

While no doubt shocked by the result, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle nonetheless saw the Jets' victory as a watershed moment that would give a legitimacy to the merger.
That feeling was reinforced one year later in Super Bowl IV, when the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs defeated the NFL champion Minnesota Vikings, 23-7 in the last championship game to be played between the two leagues.

For the first time, famous celebrities appeared for the Super Bowl ceremonies. Entertainer Bob Hope led a pregame ceremony honoring the astronauts of Project Apollo and the recently completed Apollo 8 mission, the first manned flight around the Moon.

Singer Anita Bryant later sang the national anthem, while the Florida A&M University band performed during the "America Thanks" halftime show

This game was the only time a Super Bowl was played at the same site as the previous year's Super Bowl. Super Bowl II was also played at the Orange Bowl.

 This game is thought to be the earliest surviving Super Bowl game preserved on videotape in its entirety.

New York Jets running back Matt Snell recorded 121 rushing yards while Baltimore Colts running back Tom Matte ran for 116.

 

1969

January 11 - The AFL established a playoff format for the 1969 season, with the winner in one division playing the runner-up in the other.

January 12 - An AFL team won the Super Bowl for the first time, as the Jets defeated the Colts 16-7 at Miami,  in Super Bowl III. The title Super Bowl was recognized by the NFL for the first time.
Which all fell in place as the 1968 season

See Superbowl above in 1968

The 1969 NFL season was the 50th regular season of the National Football League, and the last one before the AFL-NFL Merger. To honor the NFL's 50th season, a special anniversary logo was designed and each player by each of the 16 teams wore a patch on their jerseys with this logo throughout the season.

 

As per the agreement made during the 1967 realignment, the New Orleans Saints and the New York Giants switched divisions again, returning back to the 1967 alignment.

The conferences will be set up as follows:

EASTERN CONFERENCE 

AFL

Houston Oilers
(to be known as today's Tennessee Titans)
New York Jets
Miami Dolphins
Buffalo Bills
Boston Patriots

NFL

CAPITOL DIVISION 

Dallas Cowboys
New Orleans Saints
Philadelphia Eagles
Washington Redskins 

CENTURY DIVISION 

Cleveland Browns
New York Giants
Pittsburgh Steelers
St. Louis Cardinals 

WESTERN CONFERENCE 

AFL

Oakland Raiders
Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers
Denver Broncos 

CENTRAL DIVISION 

Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings 

COSTAL DIVISION 

Atlanta Falcons
Baltimore Colts
Los Angeles Rams
San Francisco 49ers 

Vince Lombardi became part owner, executive vice-president, and head coach of the Washington Redskins, February 7.

May 1 - Wolman sold the Eagles to Leonard Tose

Baltimore, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh agreed to join the AFL teams to form the 13-team American Football Conference of the NFL in 1970, May 17.
The NFL also agreed on a playoff format that would include one "wild-card" team per conference-the second-place team with the best record.


Monday Night Football

Monday Night Football was signed for 1970. ABC acquired the rights to televise 13 NFL regular-season Monday night games in 1970, 1971, and 1972.

August 9 - George Preston Marshall, president emeritus of the Redskins, died at 72

Don Perkins became the last of the original Dallas Cowboys to retire.

December 14 - San Diego Chargers wide receiver Lance Alworth sets a professional record with a pass reception in his 96th straight game.
Sid Gillman was forced to resign as coach due to health issues.

Buffalo Bills made running back O.J. Simpson of USC the first player chosen in the draft.
After serving primarily as a backup, Tom Flores was released by the Bills and signed with the Kansas City Chiefs during the 1969 season.

January 27 - Chuck Noll, an assistant to Don Shula in Baltimore, was hired as Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach.

Don Shula left The Baltimore Colts to become head coach of The Miami Dolphins.

John Madden became Head Coach for The Oakland Raiders, replacing John Rauch.

The NFL playoffs following the 1969 NFL season determined who would represent the league in Super Bowl IV.
This was the last NFL playoff tournament before the AFL-NFL Merger.

1969
Conference playoff games

Eastern Conference

Cleveland Browns 38, Dallas Cowboys 14
December 28, 1969 at Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas

Western Conference

Minnesota Vikings 23, Los Angeles Rams 20
December 27, 1969 at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

NFL Championship Game

Minnesota Vikings 27, Cleveland Browns 7
January 4, 1970 at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota


Super Bowl IV

Kansas City (AFL) 23, Minnesota (NFL) 7
January 11, 1970
at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana
following the 1969 regular season

Super Bowl IV was the fourth AFL-NFL Championship Game in professional American football,
and the second one (after Super Bowl III) to officially bear the name "Super Bowl".
This was the final AFL-NFL Championship Game before the National Football League (NFL) and the American Football League (AFL) merged into one combined league after the season.

Even though the Vikings were 13-point favorites coming into the game, the victory by the AFL evened the Super Bowl series with the NFL at two games apiece.

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Jan Stenerud made a Super Bowl record 48-yard field goal 

Kansas City quarterback Len Dawson was named the Super Bowl MVP, the fourth consecutive quarterback MVP, for completing 12 of 17 passes for 122 yards and one touchdown.

The crowd of 80,562 was a Super Bowl record for attendance.

Super Bowl IV was broadcast in the United States by CBS with play-by-play announcer Jack Buck and color commentators Frank Gifford and Pat Summerall. While the game was sold out at Tulane Stadium, unconditional blackout rules in both leagues prohibited the live telecast from being shown in the New Orleans area.

Trumpeters Al Hirt and Doc Severinsen "faced off" during the pregame show in a "Battle of the Horns". Hirt later performed the national anthem, while actress and singer Carol Channing was featured during the halftime show that paid tribute to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.


The last contest in AFL history was the AFL All-Star Game on January 17, 1970 (1969 Season).
The Western All-Stars, led by Chargers quarterback John Hadl, defeated the Eastern All-Stars, 26-3.

The Chiefs' Hank Stram became the first professional football coach to wear a microphone for NFL Films during the game.

The Chiefs were the last team to ever be awarded the World Championship Game Trophy, as later that fall the trophy was renamed the Vince Lombardi Trophy due to Lombardi's death.

This was the first Super Bowl played without the standard week off after the conference championship games (league championship games at the time). Strangely enough, the AFL had a week off between its divisional playoffs (the NFL played its conference championship games during the AFL's off-week) and league championship game. The AFL started its 1969 season a week earlier than the NFL, and thus had an extra week to deal with during the post-season.
This would be the last Super Bowl played without the week off until Super Bowl XVII. 

 

1970

Kansas City defeated Minnesota 23-7 in Super Bowl IV at New Orleans, January 11.

See Superbowl above in 1969

The last contest in AFL history was the AFL All-Star Game on January 17, 1970
See Above

The 1970 NFL season was the 51st regular season of the National Football League, and the first one after the AFL-NFL Merger.

Almost every element that makes pro football the world's most popular sport that it is today can be traced to the American Football League and the huge changes its presence eventually bought to the sport. By the time the fierce AFL-NFL war of the 1960s was over, the expanded National Football League of the 1970s stretched from coast-to-coast and from border to border. Fans poured into NFL stadiums in record numbers. Rapidly increasing television coverage introduced pro football to hundreds of millions of new fans on every continent.

The Super Bowl was destined to become the most watched sports spectacle in the history of the world.
The AFL was viewed by the masses as a "David" matched against an unbeatable "Goliath" for almost half of its 10-year history. But when the "rags-to-riches" story was concluded, the AFL had achieved what no other NFL challenger ( The First AFL, The Second AFL, The Third AFL)  had ever accomplished - equality in a new and exciting pro football world.

Of all the leagues that have attempted to challenge the dominance of the National Football League, the AFL was the only one to have all its teams integrated into the fabric of the NFL. This was in sharp contrast to such entities as the All-America Football Conference, baseball's Federal League, the American Basketball Association and the World Hockey Association, all of which either folded, or only had a handful of teams join the respective post-merger entities.

The merger forced a realignment between the combined league's clubs. Because there were 16 NFL teams and 10 AFL teams, three teams needed to transfer to balance the two new conferences at 13 teams each. The Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns, and the Pittsburgh Steelers agreed to join the other AFL teams to form the American Football Conference (AFC). The remaining NFL teams formed the National Football Conference (NFC).
The conferences were divided into three divisions: East, Central, and West. The two Eastern divisions had five teams; the other four divisions had four teams each.

The AFL becomes the AFC 
with the Steelers, Browns and Colts
moving there from the NFL.
The rest of the NFL becomes the NFC.

The 26-team league began to use an eight-team playoff format, four from each conference, that included the three division winners and a wild card team, the second-place team with the best record.

The NFL is now aligned as follows (modern format): 

AMERICAN CONFERENCE 

EAST DIVISION

Baltimore Colts
Boston Patriots
Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
New York Jets

CENTRAL DIVISION

Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Houston Oilers
(to be known as today's Tennessee Titans)
Pittsburgh Steelers

WEST DIVISION

Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers

NATIONAL CONFERENCE 

EAST DIVISION 

Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
St. Louis Cardinals
Washington Redskins

CENTRAL DIVISION 

Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings

WEST DIVISION 

Atlanta Falcons
New Orleans Saints
Los Angeles Rams
San Francisco 49ers

 

September 21 - The first regular season Monday Night Football game was aired on ABC.
The Cleveland Browns defeated the New York Jets 31-21 as 85,703 fans pack Cleveland's Municipal Stadium.
With the debut of Monday Night Football, the NFL becomes the first professional sports league in the United States to have a regular series of nationally televised games in prime time.

Four-year television contracts, under which CBS would televise all NFC games and NBC all AFC games (except Monday night games) and the two would divide televising the Super Bowl and AFC-NFC Pro Bowl games, were announced, January 26.

The Chicago Bears's first home game of the season against the Philadelphia Eagles was played at Northwestern University's Dyche Stadium as part of an experiment. Before the season, the league demanded that the Bears find a new home field because the seating capacity of their then-current home, Wrigley Field, was less than 50,000. Ultimately, a deal to make Dyche Stadium as the Bears' new home fell through and the team moved to Soldier Field in 1971.

Art Modell resigned as president of the NFL, March 12. Milt Woodard resigned as president of the AFL, March 13. Lamar Hunt was elected president of the AFC and George Halas was elected president of the NFC, March 19.

The Players Negotiating Committee and the NFL Players Association announced a four-year agreement guaranteeing approximately $4,535,000 annually to player pension and insurance benefits, August 3. The owners also agreed to contribute $250,000 annually to improve or implement items such as disability payments, widows' benefits, maternity benefits, and dental benefits. The agreement also provided for increased preseason game and per diem payments, averaging approximately $2.6 million annually.

The Pittsburgh Steelers moved into Three Rivers Stadium.
The Pittsburgh Steelers won a coin flip with The Chicago Bears  and the right to choose quarterback Terry Bradshaw with the first overall pick in the draft.

The Cincinnati Bengals moved to Riverfront Stadium
and
posted their first winning season (8-6)

Under new coach Don Shula, The Miami Dolphins finished 10-4 for their first winning season.

Kansas City Chiefs, Tom Flores retires as a player after the 1970 season. He was one of only twenty players who were with the AFL for its entire ten-year existence. He is the fifth-leading passer, all-time, in the AFL.

September 3 - The sports world grieves the death of Vince Lombardi who died of cancer at age 57. Lombardi led the Green Bay Packers to an 89-29-4 record and the first two Super Bowl crowns in nine years. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.

November 8 - The odds seemed stacked against New Orleans Saints placekicker Tom Dempsey as he lined up for a field-goal attempt. But poor odds were nothing new to Dempsey, an NFL player despite the fact he was born with only half a foot and had to wear a special shoe approved by the league. Trailing 17-16 to the Detroit Lions with two seconds left, the Saints sent in their field-goal unit and Dempsey booted the ball. It sailed high and straight
63 yards through the goalposts.
Setting a new NFL record.
Previously held  by Detroits Glenn Presnell in Oct. 7 1934 who kicked a 54-yard field goal
The record stood for 19 years UNTIL September 27 1953 by Baltimore's Bert Rechichar who boots a record 56-yard field goal against Chicago.

Major rule changes

March 18

The NFL playoffs following the 1970 NFL season led up to Super Bowl V.

This was the first playoff tournament after the AFL-NFL Merger. An eight-team playoff tournament was designed, with four clubs from each conference qualifying. Along with the three division winners in each conference, one wild card team, the second place team with the best record from each conference, was added to the tournament. The first round was named the Divisional Playoffs, while the Conference Championship games were moved to the second playoff round and the Super Bowl became the league's championship game.

However, the home teams in the playoffs were still decided based on a yearly divisional rotation, excluding the wild card teams who would always play on the road. Also, a rule was made that two teams from the same division could not meet in the Divisional Playoffs.

The Cincinnati Bengals qualified for the playoffs for the first time.

1970
PLAYOFFS

AFC

Divisional playoffs: 

December 26, 1970
Baltimore Colts 17,  Cincinnati Bengals 0
at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland

December 27, 1970
Oakland Raiders 21, Miami Dolphins 14
at Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California

AFC Championship:

January 3, 1971
Baltimore Colts 27, Oakland Raiders 17
at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland


NFC

Divisional playoffs:

December 26, 1970
Dallas Cowboys  5, Detroit Lions 0
at Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas

 
December 27, 1970
San Francisco 49ers 17,  Minnesota Vikings 14
at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

NFC Championship:

January 3, 1971
Dallas Cowboys 17, San Francisco 49ers 10
at Kezar Stadium, San Francisco

Super Bowl V

Baltimore (AFC) 16, Dallas (NFC) 13
January 17, 1971
at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida
following the 1970 regular season

Super Bowl V was the 5th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL).

The game is sometimes called the "Blooper Bowl" or the "Turnover Bowl" because it was filled with poor play, turnovers and officiating miscues. Overall, the two teams committed a Super Bowl record 11 combined turnovers in the game.

The game was finally settled with 5 seconds left when Colts rookie kicker Jim O'Brien kicked a 32-yard field goal. In order to win the game, Baltimore had to overcome a 13–6 deficit at the half, losing their starting quarterback in the second quarter, and their 7 lost turnovers to Dallas' 4

 It is also the only Super Bowl in which the Most Valuable Player Award was given to a member of the losing team: Cowboys Linebacker Chuck Howley, who caught 2 interceptions and recovered a fumble.

Super Bowl V was also the first Super Bowl played on an artificial turf surface, namely "Poly Turf".

The game was broadcast in the United States by NBC with play-by-play announcer Curt Gowdy and color commentator Kyle Rote. Although the Orange Bowl was sold out for the event, unconditional blackout rules in the NFL prohibited the live telecast from being shown in the Miami area.

The bands from Southern University and Northeast Missouri College performed before the game, while Trumpeter Tommy Loy played the national anthem. The Florida A&M Band was featured during the halftime show.

Because this was the first Super Bowl after the AFL-NFL Merger, Super Bowl V was the first one to have the NFL logo painted at the 50-yard line. This practice would continue until Super Bowl XXX, except for Super Bowl XXIX when the NFL 75th Anniversary logo was painted at midfield instead.

The Baltimore Colts were the first team to receive the newly named Vince Lombardi Trophy (formerly the World Championship Game Trophy) due to Vince Lombardi's death the previous year.

The Colts were the first AFC franchise to win the Super Bowl since the AFL-NFL merger was established earlier in the season.

Super Bowl V was also the first Super Bowl played on an artificial turf surface, namely "Poly Turf". 

January 24 - The NFC defeated the AFC 27-6 in the first AFC-NFC Pro Bowl at Los Angeles.

1971

The Baltimore Colts defeated the Dallas Cowboys 16-13 on Jim O'Brien's 32-yard field goal with five seconds to go in Super Bowl V at Miami, January 17. 971 - ending the 1970 season. 

The NFC defeated the AFC 27-6 in the first  AFC-NFC Pro Bowl at Los Angeles, January 24. 971 - ending the 1970 season. 

See above in 1970

The 1971 NFL season was the 52nd regular season of the National Football League.

 Before the season, the Boston Patriots changed their name to New England Patriots after they moved to their new home field, Schaefer Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, March 25.
Their new stadium was dedicated in a 20-14 preseason victory over the Giants.

The Philadelphia Eagles left Franklin Field and played their games at the new Veterans Stadium.

The San Francisco 49ers left Kezar Stadium and moved their games to Candlestick Park.

April 15 - Daniel F. Reeves, the president and general manager of the Rams, died at 58.

October 24 - The Dallas Cowboys moved from the Cotton Bowl into their new home, Texas Stadium.

Former Minnesota Vikings Coach Norm Van Brocklin led the Atlanta Falcons to it's first winng season (7-6-1)

The New Orleans Saints chose Mississippi quarterback Archie Manning in the 1st round of the draft.

New York Giants quarterback Fran Tarkenton requested a trade after a 4-10 season and was dealt back to the Minnesota Vikings.

December 19 - Houston Oilers (to be known as today's Tennessee Titans) safety Ken Houston returns two interceptions for touchdowns in the Oilers' 49-33 victory over the San Diego Chargers to set the NFL career record with nine touchdowns on interception returns.
Ken Houston also sets the single-season record with four interception return touchdowns.

December 25 - Miami wins the longest game in NFL history (82:40) as Garo Yepremian kicks a 37-yard field goal to defeat Kansas City 27-24 in double-overtime.

1971
Divisional playoffs

December 25, 1971
AFC: 
Miami Dolphins 27, Kansas City Chiefs 24 (2OT)
at Municipal Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
Miami defeated Kansas City 27-24 in sudden-death overtime in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game, December 25. Garo Yepremian kicked a 37-yard field goal for the Dolphins after 22 minutes, 40 seconds of overtime, as the game lasted 82 minutes, 40 seconds overall, making it the longest game in history.

NFC:
Dallas Cowboys 20, Minnesota Vikings 12
at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota

December 26, 1971

AFC:
Baltimore Colts 20, Cleveland Browns 3
at Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio

NFC:
San Francisco 49ers 24, Washington Redskins 20
at Candlestick Park, San Francisco

Conference Championships

January 2, 1972

AFC:
Miami Dolphins 21, Baltimore Colts 0
at Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida

NFC:
Dallas Cowboys 14, San Francisco 49ers 3
at Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas

Super Bowl VI

Dallas (NFC) 24, Miami (AFC) 3
January 16, 1972
at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana
following the 1971 regular season

Super Bowl VI was the 6th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL).

Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Roger Staubach, who completed 12 out of 19 passes for 119 yards, threw 2 touchdown passes, and rushed 5 times for 18 yards, was named the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player.

The game was broadcast in the United States by CBS with play-by-play announcer Ray Scott and color commentator Pat Summerall. Although Tulane Stadium was sold out for the game, unconditional blackout rules in the NFL prohibited the live telecast from being shown in the New Orleans area.

The Kilgore College Rangerettes drill team performed during the pregame festivities. Later, the United States Air Force Academy Chorale sang the national anthem.

The halftime show was a "Salute to Louis Armstrong" featuring jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, actress and singer Carol Channing, trumpeter Al Hirt and the U.S. Marine Corps Drill Team.

Mike Clark's 9-yard field goal is the shortest field goal in Super Bowl history. At the time, the goal posts were on goal lines instead of at the back of the end zones. Thus, this record will stand indefinitely until the league decides to move the goal posts back to the goal lines.

The temperature at kickoff was 39 °F, the lowest recorded temperature for a Super Bowl game to date.

Staubach became the first Heisman Trophy winner to be named Super Bowl Most Valuable Player.

Dallas running back Duane Thomas became the first player to score touchdowns in back-to-back Super Bowls. Thomas had a receiving touchdown a year earlier in Super Bowl V.

Staubach's 119 passing yards is the lowest total for a quarterback who was named the game's MVP.

Staubach became the first quaterback of a winning team in the Super Bowl to play the entire game. Bart Starr was relieved by Zeke Bratkowski in the first two Super Bowls when the Packers had the game safely in hand; Joe Namath was relieved briefly by Babe Parilli in Super Bowl III; Len Dawson gave way to Mike Livingston late in Super Bowl IV when the Chiefs had clinched the game; Earl Morrall came in for an injured Johnny Unitas late in the first half of Super Bowl V and led the Baltimore Colts to a come-from-behind victory over the Cowboys.

Despite being the second Super Bowl after the AFL-NFL merger, Super Bowl VI was the first one to have the NFL logo painted at the 50-yard line. The NFL would do this for all but one Super Bowl after this until Super Bowl XXXI.

This was the last Super Bowl to be blacked out in the host city. The next year, the NFL allowed Super Bowl VII to be televised live in the host city (Los Angeles) when all tickets were sold. In 1973, the NFL changed its blackout policy to allow games to be broadcast in the home team's market if sold out 72 hours in advance.

1972

Dallas defeated Miami 24-3 in Super Bowl VI at New Orleans, January 16, 1972 - ending the 1971 season
See above

The 1972 NFL season was the 53rd regular season of the National Football League.

July 13 - Robert Irsay purchased the Los Angeles Rams and transferred ownership of the club to Carroll Rosen-bloom in exchange for the Baltimore Colts.

September 2 - William V. Bidwill purchased the stock of his brother Charles (Stormy) Bidwill to become the sole owner of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The National District Attorneys Association endorsed the position of professional leagues in opposing proposed legalization of gambling on professional team sports, September 28.

A year after the Cowboys moved into Texas Stadium, then General Manager Tex Schramm, one of the greatest innovators in NFL history, decided that the reigning world champions (Super Bowl VI) needed to add something that would distinguish them even further from the rest of the league. He thought that professional models who were taught to dance would add a spark to the Texas Stadium sidelines.
However, this idea fizzled as the models did not possess the athleticism necessary for difficult dance routines in the Texas heat.
Undaunted, Schramm hired famous choreographer Texie Waterman to help select a group of beautiful young women with dancing skills and physical stamina.
Thus, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders were born.

September 24 - New York Jets quarterback, Joe Namath passed for 496 yards and 6 touchdowns in a 44-34 victory over Baltimore Colts.


December 23 - Franco Harris's "Immaculate Reception" gave the Steelers their first postseason win ever, 13-7 over the Raiders.

When Oakland's Ken Stabler snakes down the sideline with 73 seconds left to give the Raiders a 7-6 lead, it almost looks as if the Pittsburgh Steelers need a miracle to pull out the AFC semifinal playoff game.

With seconds to go, they get it. They are on their own 40 when quarterback Terry Bradshaw fires downfield to a secondary receiver, halfback Frenchy Fuqua. Raiders safety Jack Tatum clobbers Fuqua, and the force of the hit sent the ball ricocheting across the field. Tatum and some of the other Raiders began to celebrate. Bradshaw threw his helmet to the ground in despair. But as it turned out, they were premature.

As Tatum clobbered Fuqua, the ball bounced back about seven yards for an apparent incompletion. But big running back Franco Harris had drifted out of the backfield and nonchalantly moved downfield. As the ball deflected, he raced forward and rescued it just before it hit the ground and, never breaking stride, races 42 yards into the end zone with five seconds left to provide the Steelers with a 13-7 miracle victory.

Tatum argues that he didn't touch the ball, that the ball bounced off Fuqua and that the play is illegal. (At the time the rule is that no two receivers can touch the ball consecutively on the same play.) Raiders coach John Madden, though, indicates that from his view the ball had touched Tatum.

The critical question was: Whom did the ball bounce off? If it bounced off Fuqua, and then Harris was the next to touch the ball, the reception was illegal under the rules of the time, which did not allow two offensive players to touch a pass in succession; the Raiders would gain possession and a sure win. If the ball bounced off Tatum, or if it bounced off Fuqua and then Tatum, the reception was legal, as a defensive player was the last to touch the ball.

The game officials did not immediately make any signal, and there was no instant replay rule at the time. Referee Fred Swearingen telephoned the NFL's supervisor of officials, Art McNally, who was sitting in the press box, after which he signaled a touchdown. Fans immediately rushed the field, and it took fifteen minutes to clear them so the point-after, or conversion, could be kicked to give the Steelers what turned out to be their final margin, 13-7.

And just what did really occurr at Three Rivers Stadium?
 Instant replay wouldn't have helped the officials much in this case. The replay has been rewound a hundred times, and most viewers still aren't sure. Fuqua claims he's the only one who truly knows.

 To this day, the effusive Fuqua, now a product manager for the Detroit News, says that he knows what "really" happened on the amazing play.
But, says Frenchy, he has told only one other person - the late Art Rooney. And to this day, Fuqua remembers what Rooney told him: "Frenchy, let it stay immaculate."

The play will forever be known as "The Immaculate Reception."

Ties became part of won-loss-tie percentage (half-win, half-loss)
The league decided to change the formula of computing the winning percentage of each team in the standings: Tie games, previously not counted, were made equal to a half-game won and a half-game loss.

Major rule changes
March 23

  • The inbounds lines or hashmarks were moved closer to the center of the field, 23 yards, 1 foot, 9 inches from the sidelines

  • If a legal receiver goes out of bounds, either accidentally or forced out, and returns to touch or catch the pass in bounds, the penalty is a loss of down (but no penalty yardage will be assessed).

  • If a punt or missed field goal crosses the receivers' goal line, a member of the receiving team may advance the ball into the field of play.

  • All fouls committed by the offensive team behind the line of scrimmage will be assessed from the previous spot.

Tie games, previously not counted in the standings, were made equal to a half-game won and a half-game lost, May 24.

1972
Divisional playoffs

December 23, 1972

AFC: Pittsburgh Steelers 13, Oakland Raiders 7
at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
See Immaculate Reception

NFC: Dallas Cowboys 30, San Francisco 49ers 28
at Candlestick Park, San Francisco 

December 24, 1972

Miami Dolphins first appearance in the Super Bowl
AFC: Miami Dolphins 20, Cleveland Browns 14
at Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida
Jim Kiick's 8-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter kept the Dolphins' hopes alive for undefeated season.

NFC: Washington Redskins 16, Green Bay Packers 3
at RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.

Conference Championships

December 31, 1972

AFC: Miami Dolphins 21, Pittsburgh Steelers 17
at Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Dolphins continued their unbeaten streak by scoring two touchdowns in the second half.

NFC: Washington Redskins 26, Dallas Cowboys 3
at RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.

Super Bowl VII

Miami Dolphins(AFC) 14, Washington Redskins (NFC) 7,
at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California
following the 1972 regular season

The 1972 Undefeated Miami Dolphins

The American Football Conference (AFC) champion Miami Dolphins are noted as completing the first ever undefeated regular season and postseason record in NFL history when they beat the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII.

The Official NFL website (found at http://www.nfl.com/) claims The 1972 Miami Dolphins are the ONLY undefeated team in NFL history. Yet in their chronicles they claim the NFL was established in 1920, then why do they fail to mention any of the following teams going undefeated?

1920 Akron is the only undefeated team in the Association.
1922 The Canton Bulldogs were named the 1922 NFL Champions after ending the season with a 10-0-2 record.
1923 Canton had its second consecutive undefeated season, going 11-0-1 for the NFL title.
1942 The Bears finish the season 11-0
1948 The Cleveland Browns won their third straight championship in the AAFC, going 15-0 makes them the first team to experience a perfect season

During this era, only 14 games were played in a season, making the Miami Dolphins undefeated record as
14-0 for the season.
In 2005 The Indianpolis Colts came close to an undefeated season (playing 16 games in a season) posting a
14-2 record for the season.
Webmaster's opinion, The 2005 Indianapolis Colts MATCHED the 1972 Miami Dolphins!

2005 Colts Recap

Super Bowl VII was the seventh Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 14, 1973 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California following the 1972 regular season. The American Football Conference (AFC) champion
Miami Dolphins
 defeated
 the National Football Conference (NFC) champion
 Washington Redskins,
14–7,
 and became the first (and only) team in the NFL to complete a perfect, undefeated season.

The score indicates a much closer game than it actually was as the Dolphins' "No-Name Defense" dominated the game, only allowing Washington to cross midfield only twice. But Super Bowl VII is most memorable for the final two minutes of the game: Miami's quest for a perfect season almost came to a sudden halt after Redskins cornerback Mike Bass picked up Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian's fumble and returned it 49 yards for a touchdown.

Miami Dolphins Safety Jake Scott, who made 2 interceptions, including one in the end zone during the 4th quarter, and another return for 55 yards, was named Most Valuable Player. He became the second defensive player in Super Bowl history (after Linebacker Chuck Howley in Super Bowl V) to earn a Super Bowl MVP.

The game was broadcast in the United States by NBC with play-by-play announcer Curt Gowdy and color commentator Al DeRogatis. While the Coliseum was sold out for the game, unconditional blackout rules in the NFL prohibited the live telecast from being shown in the Los Angeles area.
The NBC telecast was viewed by approximately 75 million people.

The pregame show was a tribute to Apollo 17, the sixth and last mission to date to land on the Moon and the final one of Project Apollo. The show featured the crew of Apollo 17 and the University of Michigan Band.

Later, singer Andy Williams accompanied by the Little Angels of Chicago's Angels Church from Chicago performed the national anthem.

The halftime show, featuring Woody Herman and the University of Michigan Band, was titled "Happiness Is".

    Super Bowl VII was the last Super Bowl to be played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
and
was the last Super Bowl to be blacked out in the city where the game was played.

1973

(AFC) Miami Dolphins defeated (NFC) Washington Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII at Los Angeles, completing a 17-0 season, the first perfect-record regular-season and postseason mark in NFL history, January 14, 1973 ending the 1972 Sason.
see above 

The AFC defeated the NFC 33-28 in the Pro Bowl in Dallas, the first time since 1942 that the game was played outside Los Angeles, January 21, 1973 ending the 1972 Sason.

The 1973 NFL season was the 54th regular season of the National Football League.

NFL Charities, a nonprofit organization, was created to derive an income from monies generated from NFL Properties' licensing of NFL trademarks and team names, June 26. NFL Charities was set up to support education and charitable activities and to supply economic support to persons formerly associated with professional football who were no longer able to support themselves.

Congress adopted experimental legislation (for three years) requiring any NFL game that had been declared a sellout 72 hours prior to kickoff to be made available for local televising, September 14. The legislation provided for an annual review to be made by the Federal Communications Commission.


September 16 - Buffalo Bills O.J. Simpson rushes for a then NFL record 250 yards in Buffalo's 31-13 victory at New England.

The Buffalo Bills moved their home games from War Memorial Stadium to Rich Stadium in nearby Orchard Park.

September 23 - The Giants tied the Eagles 23-23 in the final game in Yankee Stadium.
The Giants played the rest of their home games at the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut.

September 30 - San Diego Charger's quarterback Johnny Unitas becomes the first player to top 40,000 yards passing when he connects with Mike Garrett on a 30-yard completion against Cincinnati.

October 21 - Los Angeles Rams defensive end Fred Dryer becomes the first player to record two safeties in one game in the Rams' 24-7 victory over the Green Bay Packers.

December 16 - Buffalo's O.J. Simpson runs for 200 yards against the New York Jets.
O.J. Simpson became the first player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season, gaining 2,003.

The Denver Broncos had their first winning season posting a 7-5-2 record in the team's 14 year history.

The New England Patriots had 3 first round draft selections and chose offensive lineman John Hannah, running back Sam Cunningham and receiver Darryl Stingley.

 


A rival league, the World Football League, was formed and was reported in operation, October 2. It had plans to start play in 1974.

Major rule changes

  • A jersey numbering system is adopted

(players who played in the 1972 NFL season are grandfathered in):

1-19: Quarterbacks and specialists
20-49: Running backs and defensive backs
50-59: Centers and linebackers
60-79: Defensive linemen and offensive linemen
other than centers
80-89: Wide receivers and tight ends

  • Defensive players cannot jump or stand on a teammate while trying to block a kick.

  • The clock is to start at the snap following a change of possession.

  • If there is a foul by the offensive team, and it is followed by a change of possession, the period can be extended by one play by the other team.

  • If the receiving team commits a foul after the ball is kicked, possession will be presumed to have changed; the receiving team keeps the ball.

 
1973
Divisional playoffs

December 22, 1973

AFC: Oakland Raiders 33, Pittsburgh Steelers 14
at Oakland Coliseum, Oakland, California 

NFC: Minnesota Vikings 27, Washington Redskins 20
at Metropolitan Stadium, Bloomington, Minnesota 

December 23, 1973

AFC: Miami Dolphins 34, Cincinnati Bengals 16
at Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida 

NFC: Dallas Cowboys 27, Los Angeles Rams 16
at Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas 

Conference Championships

December 30, 1973

AFC: Miami Dolphins 27, Oakland Raiders 10
at Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida 

NFC: Minnesota Vikings 27, Dallas Cowboys 10
at Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas 


Super Bowl VIII

(AFC) Miami Dolphins 24,  (NFL) Minnesota Vikings 7
January 13, 1974
at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas.
following the 1973 regular season

Super Bowl VIII was the eighth Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 13, 1974 at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas following the 1973 regular season.

The American Football Conference (AFC) champion
Miami Dolphins 
defeated
the National Football Conference (NFC) champion
Minnesota Vikings,
24–7
. Aided by 24 unanswered points during the first three quarters of the game, the Dolphins won their second consecutive Super Bowl, and became the first team to appear in three consecutive ones.

Miami Dolphins Running Back Larry Csonka, who ran for a Super Bowl record 145 yards and 2 touchdowns, was named the game's Most Valuable Player. He became the first running back to earn Super Bowl MVP honors.

The game was broadcast in the United States by CBS with play-by-play announcer Ray Scott and color commentators Pat Summerall and Bart Starr. Due to a change in the NFL's home blackout policy, the sold-out contest was the first Super Bowl permitted to be televised live in the host city (in this case, Houston) along with the rest of the country.
The CBS telecast was viewed by approximately 75 million people.

The University of Texas at Austin Band performed during the pregame festivities. Later, country music singer Charley Pride sang the national anthem.

The halftime show also featured the University of Texas Band in a tribute to American music titled "A Musical America".

This was the first time in Super Bowl history that the game site was a true neutral field. All of the previous Super Bowls were held at a home field of an existing NFL team. The Houston Oilers did in fact play at Rice Stadium from 1965 to 1967, but moved to the Houston Astrodome in 1968.

The Dolphins became the first team to take the game's opening kickoff and march down the field for a touchdown.

Miami's 7 pass attempts were the fewest ever thrown by a team in the Super Bowl 

1974

Miami defeated Minnesota 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII at Houston, the second consecutive Super Bowl championship for the Dolphins, January 13.
See Super Bowl VIII above

The 1974 NFL season was the 55th regular season of the National Football League.

February 27 - Rozelle was given a 10-year contract effective January 1, 1973,.

April 24 - Tampa Bay was awarded the NFL's 27th franchise to begin operation in 1976, with the provision that Tampa Stadium be expanded to 72,000 seats.

Sweeping rules changes were adopted to add action and tempo to games: one sudden-death overtime period was added for preseason and regular-season games; the goal posts were moved from the goal line to the end lines; kickoffs were moved from the 40- to the 35-yard line; after missed field goals from beyond the 20, the ball was to be returned to the line of scrimmage; restrictions were placed on members of the punting team to open up return possibilities; roll-blocking and cutting of wide receivers was eliminated; the extent of downfield contact a defender could have with an eligible receiver was restricted; the penalties for offensive holding, illegal use of the hands, and tripping were reduced from 15 to 10 yards; wide receivers blocking back toward the ball within three yards of the line of scrimmage were prevented from blocking below the waist, April 25.

March 31 - The Toronto Northmen of the WFL signed Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, and Paul Warfield of Miami.

September 30 - San Diego Chargers quarterback Johnny Unitas becomes the first player to top 40,000 yards passing when he connects with Mike Garrett on a 30-yard completion against Cincinnati.

December 5 - Seattle was awarded an NFL franchise to begin play in 1976, June 4. Lloyd W. Nordstrom, president of the Seattle Seahawks, and Hugh Culverhouse, president of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, signed franchise agreements,.

December 5 - The Birmingham Americans defeated the Florida Blazers 22-21 in the WFL World Bowl, winning the league championship.

Tampa Bay is awarded a franchise by the NFL and begins play in 1976 in the AFC West and switch to the NFC Central in 1977

Seattle is awarded a franchise by the NFL and begins play in 1976 in the NFC West and switch to the AFC West in 1977

The Pittsburgh Steelers had one of the greatest drafts in NFL history, selecting 4 future Hall of Famers in the first 5 rounds:

Lynn Swann - Reciever
JohnStallworth - Reciever
Jack Lambert - Linebacker
Mike Webster - Center

Major rule changes

The following changes were adopted to add tempo and action to the game
(and to help counter the proposed changes announced by the World Football League to their games):

  • One sudden death overtime period (15 minutes) was added to all preseason and regular season games. No scoring in this period would result in a tie game.

  • Goal posts: moved from the goal line to the end line, where they were in 1932. This was to reduce the number of games being decided on field goals, and to increase their difficulty. Uprights were extended to 30 feet above the crossbar.

  • Missed field goals: If the line of scrimmage was beyond the 20-yard line, the defensive team takes possession of the ball at that point. (In 1994, the ball would be placed at spot of the missed kick.) If this point was inside the 20-yard line, the defensive team takes possession of the ball at the 20-yard line (touchback).

  • Kickoffs: moved to the 35-yard line (from the 40-yard line) to reduce touchbacks, promoting more excitement with kickoff returns. In 1994, the kickoff would be moved further back, to the 30-yard line.

  • Punt returns: members of the kicking team cannot go beyond the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked.

  • An eligible pass receiver can only be contacted once by defenders after the receiver has gone 3 yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

  • When the defensive team commits an illegal use of hands, arms, or body foul from behind the line of scrimmage, the penalty will be assessed from the previous spot instead of the spot of the foul.

  • The penalties for offensive holding, illegal use of hands, and tripping were reduced from 15-yards to 10-yards.

  • Wide receivers blocking back towards the ball within three yards from the line of scrimmage may not block below the waist.

 

1974
PLAYOFFS

AFC

Divisional playoffs: OAKLAND 28, Miami 26; PITTSBURGH 32, Buffalo 14

The Sea of Hands (December 21, 1974)

With 24 seconds left in the game, The Raiders' Clarence Davis somehow caught the winning touchdown pass among "the sea of hands" of three Dolphins defenders. This game eliminated Miami from the playoffs after they had made it to the Super Bowl in each of the last 3 seasons.[

AFC Championship: Pittsburgh 24, OAKLAND 13

NFC

Divisional playoffs: MINNESOTA 30, St. Louis 14; LOS ANGELES 19, Washington 10

NFC Championship: MINNESOTA 14, Los Angeles 10

Super Bowl IX

Pittsburgh (AFC) 16, Minnesota (NFC) 6, at Tulane Stadium, New Orleans, Louisiana January 12, 1975

The NBC telecast was viewed by approximately 78 million people.

Super Bowl IX was the ninth Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 12, 1975 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana following the 1974 regular season.

 
 The American Football Conference (AFC) champion
 Pittsburgh Steelers
 defeated
 the National Football Conference (NFC) champion
 Minnesota Vikings,
 16–6.

This game matched two of the NFL's best defenses -- Pittsburgh's Steel Curtain against the Purple People Eaters of Minnesota -- and two legendary quarterbacks: Terry Bradshaw and Fran Tarkenton, respectively.

However, the Steelers dominated the game, recording the first safety in Super Bowl history, and limiting the Vikings to Super Bowl lows of 9 first downs, 119 yards of total offense, and 17 rushing yards. The Steelers also tied Super Bowl records for the least rushing first downs allowed (2) and the least passing first downs allowed (5). Tarkenton was held to only 11 out of 26 completions for 102 passing yards, no touchdown passes, and tied a Super Bowl record with 3 interceptions. Furthermore, Pittsburgh became the second Super Bowl team after the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XII to hold their opponents' offense scoreless; Minnesota's only score came on a blocked punt, and they did not even score on the extra point attempt. The Steelers accomplished all of this with 2 backups: linebackers Ed Bradley and Loren Toews replaced injured starters Andy Russell and Jack Lambert for most of the second half.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh had 333 yards of total offense. Steelers running back Franco Harris, who ran for a Super Bowl record 158 yards and a touchdown, was named the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player.

 


1975

Pittsburgh defeated Minnesota 16-6 in Super Bowl IX at New Orleans,
The game was played on January 12, 1975 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana following the 1974 regular season
see above

. The league made two significant changes to increase the appeal of the game:

1. The surviving clubs with the best regular season records were made the home teams for each playoff round. Previously, game sites rotated by division.

2. The league pioneered the use of equipping American football referees with wireless microphones to announce penalties and clarify complex and/or unusual rulings to both fans and the media.

The Detroit Lions moved from Tiger Stadium to the new Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan.
The New York Giants played their home games in Shea Stadium.
The Saints moved into the Louisiana Superdome - New Orleans Saints move indoors to their new Superdome after 8 years in Tulane Stadium.

The World Football League folded, October 22.

University of Southern California coach John McKay signed a 5 year contract to coach The Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

January 25 - O.A. "Bum" Phillips was hired as Houston Oilers (to be known as today's Tennessee Titans) Head Coach

November 23 - Minnesota Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton becomes the NFL's all-time completions leader when he completes his 2,840th pass in the Vikings' 28-13 victory over San Diego Chargers.

December 20 - Buffalo' Bills O.J. Simpson scores a touchdown (vs. Minnesota) in his 14th straight game. The streak started against the New York Jets on Sept. 21.

Major rule changes

  • After a fourth down incomplete pass goes in or through the end zone, the other team will take possession at the previous line of scrimmage. Previously, it resulted in a touchback.

  • The penalty for pass interference on the offensive team is reduced from 15 yards to 10.

  • If there are fouls by both teams on the same play but one results in a player ejection, the penalties will still offset but the player will still be ejected.

 

1975
PLAYOFFS

AFC

Divisional playoffs: PITTSBURGH 28, Baltimore 10; OAKLAND 31, Cincinnati 28

AFC Championship: PITTSBURGH 16, Oakland 10

NFC

Divisional playoffs: LOS ANGELES 35, St. Louis 23;
 Dallas 17, MINNESOTA 14

The Hail Mary
(December 28, 1975)
The first Hail Mary was when Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach threw it to wide receiver Drew Pearson against the Minnesota Vikings.

With 24 seconds left in the game, Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, nicknamed "Captain Comeback", threw a desperate 50-yard winning touchdown pass to "Mr. Clutch" Drew Pearson to defeat the Minnesota Vikings. Until this time, a last-second desperation pass had been called several names, most notably the Alley-Oop.

NFC Championship: Dallas 37, LOS ANGELES 7


Super Bowl X

The season ended with Super Bowl X when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys on January 18, 1976 at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida.

.Pittsburgh (AFC) 21, Dallas (NFC) 17

Super Bowl X was the tenth Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 18, 1976 at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, following the 1975 regular season.

The American Football Conference (AFC) champion
 Pittsburgh Steelers
 defeated
the National Football Conference (NFC) champion
 Dallas Cowboys,
 21–17.

This game featured a contrast of styles between the Steelers and the Cowboys, which were, at the time, the two most popular teams in the league.

Pittsburgh safety Glen Edwards halted a late Dallas rally with an end zone interception as time expired. Steelers receiver Lynn Swann, who caught 4 passes for a Super Bowl record 161 yards, including a 64-yard go-ahead touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, was named the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player. Swann was the first wide receiver ever to win the Super Bowl MVP award.

The Steelers did not commit a single penalty in the game, while the Cowboys committed only 2 penalties for 20 yards.

  This was the first Super Bowl since Super Bowl III in which a quarterback threw for more than 200 yards, a feat that both Bradshaw and Staubach surpassed
 (only Super Bowl's II and I had accomplished that).

    Scenes for the 1977 suspense film Black Sunday were filmed during the game.

This was the last game played on AstroTurf at the Orange Bowl. The artificial surface was installed in 1970, but after this game, the turf was ripped up and grass was replanted for the 1976 season.

As legend has it, it was during Super Bowl X when the camera drifted to the sidelines and paused on a lovely young woman clad in white and blue stars. With a smile and a wink, she caused an entire nation to fall in love with this unique troupe who represented the feminine side of American football.
The requests for appearances started pouring in to the suprise of the Dallas Cowboys Football Club.
We are referring to The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders - the start of the Cheerleaders and their dance and sex appeal on the sidelines!


1976

The 1976 NFL season was the 57th regular season of the National Football League. 

January 18 - The Pittsburgh Steelers win their second Super Bowl in a row in Super Bowl X as they defeat the Cowboys 21-17 at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida, following the 1975 regular season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers joined Green Bay Packers and Miami Dolphins as the only teams to win two Super Bowls; the Dallas Cowboys became the first wild-card team to play in the Super Bowl.
The CBS telecast was viewed by an estimated 80 million people, the largest television audience in history.

The league expanded to 28 teams with the addition of the Seattle Seahawks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For this season only, the Seahawks played in the NFC West while the Buccaneers played in the AFC West.

College coaching legend Lou Holtz coached the New York Jets but resigned after 13 games and a 3-10 record

Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost all 14 games in their inaugural season.

 January 20 - Lloyd Nordstrom, the president of the Seattle Seahawks, died at 66..His brother Elmer succeeded him as majority representative of the team.

The owners awarded Super Bowl XII, to be played on January 15, 1978, to New Orleans.

NFL stadiums install giant instant replay screens. Fans at games can watch a TV-like replay of the action that just occurred on the field. By the early 1990s, state-of-the-art Jumbotron color video screens replace the older black-and-white replay screens.
They also adopted the use of two 30-second clocks for all games, visible to both players and fans to note the official time between the ready-for-play signal and snap of the ball, March 16.

April 8-9 - A veteran player allocation was held to stock the Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchises with 39 players each, March 30-31. In the college draft, Seattle and Tampa Bay each received eight extra choices.

The New York Giants moved into new Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the College All-Stars in a storm-shortened Chicago College All-Star Game, the last of the series, July 23. St. Louis defeated San Diego 20-10 in a preseason game before 38,000 in Korakuen Stadium, Tokyo, in the first NFL game outside of North America, August 16.

November 25 - Buffalo Bills running back O.J. Simpson rushes for an NFL record 273 yards at Detroit. Despite his efforts, the Bills fall to the Lions 27-14

 

1976
PLAYOFFS

AFC

Divisional playoffs: OAKLAND 24, New England 21; Pittsburgh 40, BALTIMORE 14

AFC Championship: OAKLAND 24, Pittsburgh 7

NFC

Divisional playoffs: MINNESOTA 35, Washington 20; Los Angeles 14, DALLAS 12

NFC Championship: MINNESOTA 24, Los Angeles 13


Super Bowl XI

Super Bowl XI was the 11th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 9, 1977 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California following the 1976 regular season.

The American Football Conference (AFC) champion
Oakland Raiders
defeated
the National Football Conference (NFC) champion
Minnesota Vikings,
32–14.

Oakland gained a Super Bowl record 429 yards, including a Super Bowl record 288 yards in the first half, en route to winning their first Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Even though he did not score a touchdown, Raiders wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff, who had 4 catches for 79 yards, was named the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player.

January 9 is the earliest in the calendar year that a Super Bowl has ever taken place.

This was the first game played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum previously played host to two previous Super Bowls (Super Bowl I and Super Bowl VII).

   This is the last Super Bowl game played outdoors to end before dusk.

    For the fourth time in as many Super Bowls, the Vikings failed to score in the first half. 

Major rule changes

  • Two 30-seconds clocks, one on each end of the field, will be used for all games. They will be visible to both players and fans to note the official time between the ready-for-play signal and the snap of the ball.

  • If the defensive team commits a foul during a failed extra point attempt, the try is replayed and the offensive team has the option to either have the distance penalty assessed on the next try or the ensuing kickoff.

  • If the defensive team commits a foul during a successful extra point attempt, the penalty will be assessed on the ensuing kickoff.

  • Players cannot grasp the facemask of an opponent. The penalty for an incidental grasp of the facemask is 5 yards. The penalty for twisting, turning, or pulling the facemask is 15 yards. A player can be ejected from the game if the foul is judged to be vicious and/or flagrant.

  • A defender is prohibited from running or diving into, or throwing his body against or on a ballcarrier who falls or slips to the ground untouched and makes no attempt to advance, before or after the ball is dead. This is sometimes called as the "Ben Davidson Rule" after the Raiders defender who almost seriously injured quarterback Len Dawson after the Chiefs passer fell to the ground and made no attempt to advance.


History of the Coin Toss

The coin toss has been a part of professional football since its start in 1892.  While the procedure has been relatively unchanged over the years, the following is a history of change made to the pre-game procedure.

Previously:  Coin toss was moved to thirty minutes before the start of the game.

Change: Coin toss was changed from 30 minutes to three minutes before kickoff.


1977

The 1977 NFL season was the 58th regular season of the National Football League.

January 9 - The Oakland Raiders defeat the Minnesota Vikings 32-14 for their first NFL championship.
 The game is played before a record Super Bowl crowd plus 81 million television viewers, the largest audience ever to watch a sporting event.

The victory was the fifth consecutive for the AFC in the Super Bowl.

February 25 - The NFL Players Association and the NFL Management Council ratified a collective bargaining agreement extending until 1982, covering five football seasons while continuing the pension plan-including years 1974, 1975, and 1976-with contributions totaling more than $55 million. The total cost of the agreement was estimated at $107 million. The agreement called for a college draft at least through 1986; contained a no-strike, no-suit clause; established a 43-man active player limit; reduced pension vesting to four years; provided for increases in minimum salaries and preseason and postseason pay; improved insurance, medical, and dental benefits; modified previous practices in player movement and control; and reaffirmed the NFL Commissioner's disciplinary authority. Additionally, the agreement called for the NFL member clubs to make payments totaling $16 million the next 10 years to settle various legal disputes.

March 28 - The San Francisco 49ers were sold to Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr.

AMERICAN CONFERENCE 

EAST DIVISION

Baltimore Colts
Boston Patriots
Buffalo Bills
Miami Dolphins
New York Jets

CENTRAL DIVISION

Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Houston Oilers
(to be known as today's Tennessee Titans)
Pittsburgh Steelers

WEST DIVISION

Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders
San Diego Chargers

NATIONAL CONFERENCE 

EAST DIVISION 

Dallas Cowboys
New York Giants
Philadelphia Eagles
St. Louis Cardinals
Washington Redskins

CENTRAL DIVISION 

Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Minnesota Vikings

WEST DIVISION 

Atlanta Falcons
New Orleans Saints
Los Angeles Rams
San Francisco 49ers

 

The annual draft was reduced from 17 rounds to 12 rounds.

A 16-game regular season, 4-game preseason was adopted to begin in 1978, March 29. A second wild-card team was adopted for the playoffs beginning in 1978, with the wild-card teams to play each other and the winners advancing to a round of eight postseason series.

March 31 - The Seahawks were permanently aligned in the AFC Western Division and the Buccaneers in the NFC Central Division.

The owners awarded Super Bowl XIII, to be played on January 21, 1979, to Miami, to be played in the Orange Bowl; Super Bowl XIV, to be played January 20, 1980, was awarded to Pasadena, to be played in the Rose Bowl, June 14.

Rozelle negotiated contracts with the three television networks to televise all NFL regular-season and postseason games, plus selected preseason games, for four years beginning with the 1978 season. ABC was awarded yearly rights to 16 Monday night games, four prime-time games, the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, and the Hall of Fame games. CBS received the rights to all NFC regular-season and postseason games (except those in the ABC package) and to Super Bowls XIV and XVI. NBC received the rights to all AFC regular-season and postseason games (except those in the ABC package) and to Super Bowls XIII and XV. Industry sources considered it the largest single television package ever negotiated, October 12.


November 20 - Chicago Bear's Walter Payton set a single-game rushing record with 275 yards (40 carries) against Minnesota.

Denver Broncos defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-21 in the franchise's first playoff game

Major rule changes

Rules changes were adopted to open up the passing game and to cut down on injuries.

  • The head slap is outlawed. This change is referred to as the "Deacon Jones Rule"; The Rams defensive end frequently used this technique.

  • Any shoe worn by a player with an artificial limb must have a kicking surface that conforms to that of a normal kicking shoe. Named the "Tom Dempsey Rule" after the placekicker who wore a modified shoe on his artificial limb that had a flattened and enlarged toe area. This shoe had somewhat the appearance of a hammer, and thus gave him an advantage over other kickers.

  • Defenders are only permitted to make contact with receivers only once.

  • Defenders are not allowed to make contact with an opponent above the shoulders with the palms of their hands, except to ward him off the line.

  • Offensive linemen are not allowed to thrust their hands to a defender's neck, face, or head.

  • Wide receivers are not allowed to clip defenders.

A 16-game regular season, 4-game preseason was adopted to begin in 1978.

A second wild-card team was adopted for the playoffs beginning in 1978, with the wild-card teams to play each other and the winners advancing to a round of eight postseason series.

1977
PLAYOFFS

AFC

Divisional playoffs: DENVER 34, Pittsburgh 21; Oakland 37, BALTIMORE 31 (OT)
Ghost to the Post
 (December 24) 

Raiders tight end Dave Casper, nicknamed "The Ghost" by his teammates, caught a 42-yard reception (on a pass route headed towards the goal posts) to set up the Raiders' tying field goal near the end of regulation. Then Casper caught a 10-yard touchdown pass with 43 seconds into the second overtime period to win the game.

AFC Championship: DENVER 20, Oakland 17

NFC

Divisional playoffs: DALLAS 37, Chicago 7; Minnesota 14, LOS ANGELES 7

NFC Championship: DALLAS 23, Minnesota 6


Super Bowl XII

Dallas (NFC) 27, Denver (AFC) 10

This was The Denver Broncos first Super Bowl appearance

Dallas's victory was the first for the NFC in six years

Super Bowl XII was the 12th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 15, 1978 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, the first Super Bowl played inside a domed stadium, following the 1977 regular season.
The CBS telecast was viewed by more than 102 million people, meaning the game was watched by more viewers than any other show of any kind in the history of television.

The National Football Conference (NFC) champion
Dallas Cowboys 
defeated
the American Football Conference (AFC) champion
Denver Broncos,
27–10.

The Cowboys defensive team dominated most of the game, forcing 8 turnovers and allowing only 8 pass completions by the Broncos for just 61 passing yards.

For the first time, two players won Super Bowl MVP honors:
defensive tackle Randy White and defensive end Harvey Martin.
This was also the first time that a defensive lineman was named as the Super Bowl MVP.

The Cowboys joined Minnesota as the only teams to appear in four Super Bowls.

Tony Dorsett of The Dallasd Cowboys became the first football player in history to win an NCAA National Championship one year (with the University of Pittsburgh Panthers) and a Super Bowl the next.

    Robert Newhouse of The Dallasd Cowboys became the first running back in Super Bowl history to complete a touchdown pass.

  Referee Jim Tunney became the first (and to date, only) official to work consecutive Super Bowls. Tunney was also the referee for Super Bowl VI and Super Bowl XI.

The Dallas Cowboys was the only NFC team to win the Super Bowl in the 1970's.

  This was the first Super Bowl between two teams who had met in regular season play.


1978

Dallas defeated Denver 27-10 in Super Bowl XII, held indoors for the first time, at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, January 15. The CBS telecast was viewed by more than 102 million people, meaning the game was watched by more viewers than any other show of any kind in the history of television.
Dallas's victory was the first for the NFC in six years.
See above

The 1978 NFL season was the 59th regular season of the National Football League. 

Regular season became 16 games and Second wild-card team in each conference added to playoffs
To increase revenue, the league expanded the regular season from a 14-game schedule to 16. Furthermore, the playoff format was expanded from 8 teams to 10 teams by adding another wild card from each conference. The wild card teams would play each other with the winner advancing to the playoff round of eight teams.

Bolstered by the expansion of the regular-season schedule from 14 to 16 weeks, NFL paid attendance exceeded 12 million (12,771,800) for the first time. The per-game average of 57,017 was the third-highest in league history and the most since 1973.

August 5 - The NFL played for the first time in Mexico City, with the New Orleans Saints defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 14-7 in a preseason game.

Head Coach John Madden of The Oakland Raiders retires with a 112-39-7 record over 10 seasons and was replaced by Tom Flores, a former Raiders Quarterback.

Weeb Ewbank became the first person associated with the New York Jets to be voted into the Hall of Fame.

Major rule changes

  •  

  • To open up the passing game, defenders are permitted to make contact with receivers only to a point of five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Previously, contact was allowed anywhere on the field.

  •  

    The offensive team may only make one forward pass during a play from scrimmage, but only if the ball does not cross the line and return behind the line prior to the pass.

  • Double touching of a forward pass is legal, but batting a pass towards the opponent's end zone is illegal. Previously, a second offensive player could not legally catch a deflected pass unless a defensive player had touched it. This is usually referred to as the "Mel Renfro Rule". During a play in Super Bowl V, Baltimore Colts receiver Eddie Hinton tipped a pass intended for him. Renfro, the Cowboys defensive back, made a stab at the ball and it was ruled that he tipped it ever so slightly (which he denied) into the arms of Colts tight end John Mackey, who ran for a touchdown. Later, this rule was also the one in question during the Immaculate Reception in 1972. But despite these two incidents, the rule change did not occur until this season.

  • The pass blocking rules were extended to permit extended arms and open hands.

  • The penalty for intentional grounding is reduced from a loss of down and 15 yards to a loss of down and 10 yards from the previous spot. If the passer commits the foul in his own end zone, the defense scores a safety.

  • Hurdling is no longer a foul.

  • A seventh official, the Side Judge, is added to the officiating crew to help rule on legalities downfield, March 14.

A study on the use of instant replay as an officiating aid was made during seven nationally televised preseason games.

 

1978
PLAYOFFS

AFC

Wild-Card playoff: Houston 17, MIAMI 9

Divisional playoffs: Houston 31, NEW ENGLAND 14; PITTSBURGH 33, Denver 10

AFC Championship: PITTSBURGH 34, Houston 5

NFC

Wild-Card playoff: ATLANTA 14, Philadelphia 13

Divisional playoffs: DALLAS 27, Atlanta 20; LOS ANGELES 34, Minnesota 10

NFC Championship: Dallas 28, LOS ANGELES 0


Super Bowl XIII

Pittsburgh (AFC) 35, Dallas (NFC) 31

Super Bowl XIII was the 13th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 21, 1979 at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida following the 1978 regular season.

The NBC telecast was viewed in 35,090,000 homes, by an estimated 96.6 million fans.

The American Football Conference (AFC) champion
Pittsburgh Steelers
defeated
the National Football Conference (NFC) champion
Dallas Cowboys,
35–31.
It was the first ever Super Bowl rematch. The Steelers previously beat the Cowboys in Super Bowl X, 21–17.


The Steelers become the first team to win three Super Bowls.

Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw was named Super Bowl MVP. Bradshaw, who completing 17 out of 30 passes, broke Super Bowl records for the most passing yards in a game (318) and the most touchdown passes in a game (4). Also, his 75-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter tied Johnny Unitas in Super Bowl V for the longest in a Super Bowl.

Meanwhile, the Cowboys could not overcome turnovers, drops, and a controversial penalty during the second half.

Pregame Hype

Much of the pregame hype surrounded Super Bowl XIII centered around Cowboys linebacker Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson. Henderson caused quite a stir before the NFC Championship Game by claiming that the Rams had "No Class" and the Cowboys would shut them out. His prediction turned out to be very accurate; the Cowboys did shut them out, aided by Henderson's 68-yard interception return for a touchdown.

In the days leading up the Super Bowl, Henderson began talking about the Steelers in the same manner. He predicted another shutout and then made unfriendly comments about several Pittsburgh players. He put down the talent of Grossman and the intelligence of Bradshaw, proclaiming "Bradshaw couldn't spell 'cat' if you spotted him the 'c' and the 'a'". But the Steelers refused to get into a war of words with Henderson. Greene responded by saying the Steelers didn't need to say they were the best, they would just go out on the field and "get the job done".

 

  Dallas Cowboys became the first Super Bowl designated "home team" to wear its white jerseys.

       * The Cowboys were the first defending champion to lose in the Super Bowl. They were also the first to lose two Super Bowls to the same team
(they lost 21-17 to the Steelers in Super Bowl X).

    Terry Bradshaw became the first player since the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger to win both the Super Bowl MVP and the AP Most Valuable Player Award during the same season.

By throwing for a Super Bowl record of 318 yards, Terry Bradshaw not only broke Bart Starr's record of 250 yards in Super Bowl I, but also became the first quarterback in a Super Bowl to pass for over 300.

Bradshaw was also the first quarterback to throw for three or more touchdowns in a Super Bowl, breaking the record of 2 by several players.

1979

The 1979 NFL season was the 60th regular season of the National Football League

The owners awarded three future Super Bowl sites: Super Bowl XV to the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, to be played on January 25, 1981; Super Bowl XVI to the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan, to be played on January 24, 1982; and Super Bowl XVII to Pasadena's Rose Bowl, to be played on January 30, 1983, March 13.

Tom Flores became the Oakland Raiders' head coach in 1979, following John Madden's retirement. Under Flores, the Raiders won Super Bowl XV and Super Bowl XVIII

April 2 - Carroll Rosenbloom, the president of the Rams, drowned at 72. His widow, Georgia, assumed control of the club.

October 25 - San Diego quarterback Dan Fouts throws for 303 yards at Oakland, setting an NFL record by topping 300 yards for the fourth straight game.

September 10Oakland Raiders vs. San Diego Chargers

The Holy Roller game, or the Immaculate Deception for Chargers fans The Raiders were trailing the Chargers with 10 seconds remaining. Quarterback Ken Stabler fumbled the ball and running back Pete Banaszak swatted it into the end zone where tight end Dave Casper fell on it for a touchdown. After this play, it was made illegal to move the ball forward by deliberately swatting or kicking it after a fumble; and in the final two minutes of each half, plus on fourth down at any time in the game, a forward fumble recovered by any member of the offensive team other than the fumbler is spotted at the point of the fumble, not the point of the recovery.

November 19 - Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants  The Miracle at the Meadowlands, or The Fumble for Giants fans

Leading 17-12 with 31 seconds left in the game (and the Eagles having no timeouts left), Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik tried to hand off to running back Larry Csonka instead of simply kneeling with the ball to run out the clock. The exchange was fumbled and the Eagles' Herman Edwards picked up the loose ball and ran it in for the game-winning touchdown. The Eagles won 19-17 and the next day Giants' offensive coordinator Bob Gibson was fired, with head coach John McVay losing his job at the conclusion of the season.

December 29 - Houston Texans safety Vernon Perry sets an NFL playoff record with four interceptions in the Oilers' 17-14 victory over San Diego.

Major rule changes

For several decades, every NFL official wore white hats. In 1979, NFL referees started to wear black hats, while every other NFL official continued to wear white - apparently a cost-cutting move. (Finally in 1988, the NFL copied what high-school and college football had been doing for years: The referee puts on a white hat and the other officials put on a black hat.)

NFL rules changes emphasized additional player safety.

  • Whenever the quarterback is sacked, the clock will be stopped for at least five seconds and then restarted again and instructed officials to quickly whistle a play dead when a quarterback was clearly in the grasp of a tackler

  • If a fair catch is made, or signaled and awarded to a team because of interference, on the last play of a half, the period can be extended and the team can run one play.

  • Centers are included as the interior offensive linemen in the uniform numbering system.

  • Players are prohibited from wearing torn or altered equipment. Tear-away jerseys are banned.

  • During kickoffs, punts, and field goal attempts, players on the receiving team cannot block below the waist.

  • The zone in which crackback blocks are prohibited is extended from 3 yards on either side of the line of scrimmage to 5.

  • Players cannot use their helmets to butt, spear, or ram an opponent. Any player who uses the crown or the top of his helmet unnecessarily will be called for unnecessary roughness.

  • In order to prevent incidents such as the Holy Roller game, the following change is made: If an offensive player fumbles during a fourth down play, or during any down played after the two minute warning in a half, only the fumbling player can recover and.or advance the ball. This change is known as the "Ken Stabler rule" after the Oakland Raiders quarterback who made the infamous play in the Holy Roller game.

  • Defensive linemen can wear numbers 90 to 99.

1979
PLAYOFFS

AFC

Wild-Card playoff: HOUSTON 13, Denver 7

Divisional playoffs: Houston 17, SAN DIEGO 14; PITTSBURGH 34, Miami 14

AFC Championship: PITTSBURGH 27, Houston 13

NFC

Wild-Card playoff: PHILADELPHIA 27, Chicago 17

Divisional playoffs: TAMPA BAY 24, Philadelphia 17; Los Angeles 21, DALLAS 19

NFC Championship: Los Angeles 9, TAMPA BAY 0


Super Bowl XIV

Pittsburgh Steelers(AFC) 31, Los Angeles Rams(NFC) 19

Super Bowl XIV was the 14th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 20, 1980 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California following the 1979 regular season.

Aided by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Los Angeles Rams, 31–19, to win their fourth Super Bowl in team history.

Despite throwing three interceptions, Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw was named the game's MVP by completing 14 of 21 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Bradshaw became the second person to win two Super Bowl MVP awards and the second to win them back-to-back (both after Bart Starr in Super Bowls I and II).

The Steelers fans were known this year for the "Terrible Towel" fad, in which most fans would bring towels colored yellow and black (the team's colors) to all Steelers games (since 1975) and wave them around madly in a circle above their heads as a show of support. Many Terrible Towels were in evidence at the Rose Bowl during this Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl was attended by a record 103,985 spectators. This mark has currently not ever been broken yet, and most likely never will. The last time that the Rose Bowl held an NFL game was Super Bowl XXVII, and will never host a Super Bowl again as long as the league maintains its current policy that only a home stadium of an NFL team may host the championship game. And so far, no NFL stadium currently comes close to a capacity 100,000 people.

The famous Coke commercial where Mean Joe Greene gives a kid his game jersey aired during CBS' telecast of the game. However, it is technically not viewed as a Super Bowl ad since it actually debuted on October 1, 1979, not during the day of the game


1980

Ending The 1979 Season

Pittsburgh defeated the Los Angeles Rams 31-19 in Super Bowl XIV at Pasadena to become the first team to win four Super Bowls, January 20.

The game was viewed in a record 35,330,000 homes.

See above

The AFC-NFC Pro Bowl, won 37-27 by the NFC, was played before 48,060 fans at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was the first time in the 30-year history of the Pro Bowl that the game was played in a non-NFL city.

The 1980 NFL season was the 61st regular season of the National Football League.

The San Francisco 49ers were the dominant team of the 1980s, as quarterback Joe Montana keyed the team to four Super Bowl victories (1982, 1985, 1989, 1990). Montana, who benefited from good blocking protection, read defenses well and could pass while scrambling away from tacklers. His favorite receiver was Jerry Rice, who eventually became the NFL career leader in career touchdowns. Other powerful teams during the 1980s included the Chicago Bears, the Washington Redskins, and the Raiders

After the league declined to approve the proposed move by the Raiders from Oakland, California to Los Angeles, the team along with the Los Angeles Coliseum sued the NFL for violating antitrust laws. A verdict in the trial would not be decided until before the 1982 NFL season.

The Los Angeles Rams moved their home games to Anaheim Stadium in nearby Orange County, California.

NFL regular-season attendance of nearly 13.4 million set a record for the third year in a row. The average paid attendance for the 224-game 1980 regular season was 59,787, the highest in the league's 61-year history. NFL games in 1980 were played before 92.4 percent of total stadium capacity.

Television ratings in 1980 were the second-best in NFL history, trailing only the combined ratings of the 1976 season. All three networks posted gains, and NBC's 15.0 rating was its best ever. CBS and ABC had their best ratings since 1977, with 15.3 and 20.8 ratings, respectively. CBS Radio reported a record audience of 7 million for Monday night and special games.

CBS, with a record bid of $12 million, won the national radio rights to 26 NFL regular-season games, including Monday Night Football, and all 10 postseason games for the 1980-83 seasons.

October 26 -- Baltimore quarterback Bert Jones is sacked a record 12 times in a 17-10 loss to St. Louis. Houston quarterback Warren Moon would equal the mark on Sept. 29, 1985 at Dallas.

December 7 - The San Francisco 49ers erase a 35-7 halftime deficit to record the biggest comeback in NFL history, beating the New Orleans Saints 38-35 in overtime on Ray Wersching's 36-yard field goal.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach McKay signed a 5 year extension with a provision that he would become team president after its expiration.

Center Jim Otto became the first Oakland Raiders player to be elected to the Hall of Fame 

Major rule changes

  • Rules changes placed greater restrictions on contact in the area of the head, neck, and face. Players are prohibited from striking, swinging, or clubbing to the head, face, or neck. The personal foul could be called whether or not the initial contact was made below the neck.

  • If the offensive team commits a penalty in an attempt to conserve time, 10 seconds will be run off the clock before the ball is permitted to be put back into play.

  • A "Guidelines for Captains" section was added to the rules.

At the NFL annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, a 45-second clock was also approved to replace the 30-second clock. For a normal sequence of plays, the interval between plays was changed to 45 seconds from the time the ball is signaled dead until it is snapped on the succeeding play.

1980 PLAYOFFS

AFC

Wild-Card playoff: OAKLAND 27, Houston 7

Divisional playoffs: SAN DIEGO 20, Buffalo 14; Oakland 14, CLEVELAND 12

AFC Championship: Oakland 34, SAN DIEGO 27

NFC

Wild-Card playoff: DALLAS 34, Los Angeles 13

Divisional playoffs: PHILADELPHIA 31, Minnesota 16; Dallas 30, ATLANTA 27

NFC Championship: PHILADELPHIA 20, Dallas 7


Super Bowl XV

Oakland Raiders (AFC) 27, Philadelphia Eagles (NFC) 10, at Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

Super Bowl XV was the 15th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 25, 1981 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana following the 1980 regular season.

The American Football Conference (AFC) champion
Oakland Raiders 
defeated
the National Football Conference (NFC) champion
Philadelphia Eagles,
27–10,
to become to first wild card playoff team to win a Super Bowl. The Raiders jumped to a 14–0 lead in the first quarter, which the Eagles never recovered from.

Oakland quarterback Jim Plunkett was named the Super Bowl MVP, completing 13 of 21 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for 9 yards.

  Philadelphia became the first team in Super Bowl history to open the game with a two tight end formation (John Spagnola and Keith Krepfle).

   This game marked the first Super Bowl where both teams used the 3-4 defensive formation as their base defense. The Raiders were the first team to use the 3-4 in the Super Bowl in Super Bowl XI against the Minnesota Vikings, although the Miami Dolphins used a version of the 3-4 ("53 defense") in Super Bowl VI, Super Bowl VII and Super Bowl VIII.

 Oakland became only the second wild card team to make it to the Super Bowl and the first to come away victorious
(The Kansas City Chiefs, the Super Bowl IV champions, are often thought of as a "wild-card team," but they were not; during the season before the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger, the the second-place finishers in both divisions of the American Football League qualified for the playoffs).

   Jim Plunkett would be the second Heisman Trophy winner to be named Super Bowl MVP after Roger Staubach in Super Bowl VI.

Oakland Raider's, Cliff Branch's two touchdown catches tied a Super Bowl record. Only Max McGee who played for the Green Bay Packers and John Stallworth of the Pittsburgh Steelers caught two touchdowns prior to this.

   Gene Upshaw of The Oakland Raiders became the first player to play in three Super Bowls with the same team in three different decades. He also played in Super Bowls II (1967) and XI (1976).


1981

Oakland defeated Philadelphia 27-10 in Super Bowl XV at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, to become the first wild-card team to win a Super Bowl, January 25.

The 1981 NFL season was the 62nd regular season of the National Football League. 

 February 26 - Edgar F. Kaiser, Jr., purchased the Denver Broncos from Gerald and Allan Phipps

The Cincinnati Bengal's unveiled new uniforms with tiger stripes on the helmets and pants

March 20 - The Owners adopted a disaster plan for re-stocking a team should the club be involved in a fatal accident.

The NFL awarded Super Bowl XVIII to Tampa, to be played in Tampa Stadium on January 22, 1984, June 3.

A CBS-New York Times poll showed that 48 percent of sports fans preferred football to 31 percent for baseball.

The NFL teams hosted 167 representatives from 44 predominantly black (African-American) colleges during training camps for a total of 289 days. The program was adopted for renewal during each training camp period.

NFL regular-season attendance-13.6 million for an average of 60,745-set a record for the fourth year in a row. It also was the first time the per-game average exceeded 60,000. NFL games in 1981 were played before 93.8 percent of total stadium capacity.

ABC and CBS set all-time rating highs. ABC finished with a 21.7 rating and CBS with a 17.5 rating. NBC was down slightly to 13.9.

October 2 - Bob Shaw established an NFL record with five touchdown catches as the Chicago Cardinals defeated the Baltimore Colts 55-13.
The record was tied in 1981 by San Diego Chargers Kellen Winslow
and again in 1990 by San Francisco 49ers, Jerry Rice.

November 22 - San Diego tight end Kellen Winslow ties an NFL record with five touchdown catches in the Chargers' 55-21 victory over Oakland.

North Carolina linebacker Lawrence Taylor was chosen on the New York Giants 1st round of the draft.

Major rule changes

  • It is illegal for any player to put adhesive or slippery substances such as the product "stickum" on his body, equipment or uniform. This rule is known as both the "Lester Hayes Rule" and the "Fred Biletnikoff Rule" since both players were notorious for using sticky substances to make it easier for them to catch passes.

  • An offensive player who comes into the game wearing an illegal number for the position he takes must report to the Referee before the start of the next play.

  • The penalty for an ineligible receiver who touches a forward pass is a loss of down.

  • The penalty for illegal use of hands, arms, or body (including holding) is reduced from 15 yards to 10 yards.

  • The penalty for intentional grounding is modified: loss of down and 10 yards penalty from the previous spot, or if the foul occurs more than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage, loss of down at the spot of the foul.

 

1981 PLAYOFFS

AFC

Wild-Card playoff: Buffalo 31, N.Y. JETS 27

Divisional playoffs: San Diego 41, MIAMI 38 (OT); CINCINNATI 28, Buffalo 21

AFC Championship: CINCINNATI 27, San Diego 7

NFC

Wild-Card playoff: N.Y. Giants 27, PHILADELPHIA 21

Divisional playoffs: DALLAS 38, Tampa Bay 0; SAN FRANCISCO 38, N.Y. Giants 24

NFC Championship: SAN FRANCISCO 28, Dallas 27


Super Bowl XVI

San Francisco 49ers (NFC) 26, Cincinnati Bengals (AFC) 21,
 at Silverdome, Pontiac, Michigan

Super Bowl XVI was the 16th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 24, 1982 at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit) following the 1981 regular season.

The National Football Conference (NFC) champion
San Francisco 49ers 
defeated
the American Football Conference (AFC) champion
Cincinnati Bengals,
26–21.

Although the Bengals gained 356 yards of total offense to the 49ers' 275, San Francisco jumped to a 20-0 lead by halftime and forced 5 turnovers.
This marked the first time in Super Bowl history that the team that compiled the most yards lost.

49ers quarterback Joe Montana was named the Super Bowl MVP, completing 14 of 22 passes for 157 yards and one touchdown, while also rushing for 18 yards and a touchdown on the ground.

The game was one of the most watched broadcasts in American television history, with more than 85 million viewers. The final national Nielsen rating was a 49.1, a Super Bowl record.

In addition to his Super Bowl record 11 receptions,  Cincinnati Bengal's Dan Ross' 104 receiving yards and his 2 touchdown receptions were the most ever by a tight end in a Super Bowl.

Cincinnati head coach Forrest Gregg became the first person to play in a Super Bowl and then be a head coach in a Super Bowl. Gregg played in Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II as a member of the Green Bay Packers.

 This is the only Super Bowl to have a turnover on the opening kickoff.

This is the only Super Bowl to have ever been played at the Pontiac Silverdome. This was also only the second of 16 Super Bowls to not take place in one of the three so-called "Big Super Bowl Cities". Fourteen of the previous 16 Super Bowls took place in either Miami, Florida, New Orleans, Louisiana or in the Greater Los Angeles Area.

    This was the first Super Bowl to be broadcast by the tandem of Pat Summerall and John Madden.

    This was the first Super Bowl to feature two brand new participants since Super Bowl III.

Ray Wersching's 4 field goals tied a Super Bowl record set by Green Bay Packers kicker Don Chandler in Super Bowl II.


1982

January 2  (Ending 1981 Season) - San Diego beats Miami 41-38 in overtime in the highest scoring playoff game in NFL history. .

The temperature was 85°F (29.4°C) at the Miami Orange Bowl, but it did not stop either team's offense. This game set playoff records for the most points scored in a playoff game (79), the most total yards by both teams (1,036), and most passing yards by both teams (809). By the end of the first quarter the Chargers stormed to a 24-0 lead, but the Dolphins cut their deficit to 24-17 by halftime and took a 38-31 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter. Regulation ended with a 38-38 tie. In overtime, Rolf Benirschke ends the game with a 29-yard field goal. San Diego beat Miami, 41-38.

January 24 (Ending 1981 Season) - One week after their victory over the Dolphins in "The Epic in Miami" in Florida's scorching heat, the Chargers travelled to Cincinnati to face the Bengals in the coldest game in NFL history based on the wind chill. The air temperature was -9 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 °C), but wind chill was -59 °F (-51 °C). In an attempt to intimidate the Chargers, several Bengals players went without long sleeved uniforms. Cincinnati won the game 27-7 and advanced to their first Super Bowl in franchise history.

San Francisco beats Cincinnati 26-21 in Super Bowl XVI. Ray Wersching kicks a Super Bowl record-tying four field goals as the 49ers win their first NFL championship.

See Above

January 10  (Ending 1981 Season) Dallas Cowboys vs. San Francisco 49ers, NFC Championship Game

With 58 seconds left and the 49ers down by 6, Joe Montana threw a very high pass into the endzone. Dwight Clark leapt and completed a fingertip catch for a touchdown. The 49ers won 28-27 and made it to the Super Bowl.

December 12 (Ending 1981 Season)  "Snowplow Game." , Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots)

After a snowstorm held both teams scoreless, Patriots head coach Ron Meyer ordered the area where the ball was to be spotted for a field goal attempt cleared by a snow plow. Mark Henderson, a convict on work release, cleared the path for John Smith's attempt. It won the game for the Patriots, 3-0, and the practice of using snow plows during games was later banned

The 1982 NFL season was the 63rd regular season of the National Football League. 

The NFL officially recognized quarterback sacks as a statistic.

The NFL signed a five-year contract with the three television networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) to televise all NFL regular-season and postseason games starting with the 1982 season.

The owners awarded the 1983, 1984, and 1985 AFC-NFC Pro Bowls to Honolulu's Aloha Stadium.

Oakland Raiders became Los Angeles Raiders
Before the season, a verdict was handed down against the league in the trial brought by the Los Angeles Coliseum and the Oakland Raiders. The jury ruled that the NFL violated antitrust laws when it declined to approve the proposed move by the Raiders from Oakland, California to Los Angeles. Thus, the league was forced to let the team play in the second largest city in the United States.
The verdict cleared the way for the Raiders to move to Los Angeles, where they defeated Green Bay Packers 24-3 in their first preseason game, August 29.

Strike cancelled seven weeks of games and created extra playoff week
The league faced another problem when a 57-day long players' strike reduced the 1982 season from a 16-game schedule to 9. Because of the shortened season, the NFL adopted a special 16-team playoff tournament. Division standings were ignored. Eight teams from each conference were seeded 1-8 based on their regular season records.

September 20 (at midnight on Monday) - The strike was called by the NFLPA, following the Green Bay at New York Giants game. Play resumed November 21-22 following ratification of the Collective Bargaining Agreement by NFL owners, November 17 in New York.

Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which was to run through the 1986 season, the NFL draft was extended through 1992 and the veteran free-agent system was left basically unchanged. A minimum salary schedule for years of experience was established; training camp and postseason pay were increased; players' medical, insurance, and retirement benefits were increased; and a severance-pay system was introduced to aid in career transition, a first in professional sports.

Despite the players' strike, the average paid attendance in 1982 was 58,472, the fifth-highest in league history.

The owners awarded the sites of two Super Bowls, December 14: Super Bowl XIX, to be played on January 20, 1985, to Stanford University Stadium in Stanford, California, with San Francisco as host team; and Super Bowl XX, to be played on January 26, 1986, to the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

The Minnesota Vikings played it's first season indoors at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

January 10The (AFC) Cincinnati Bengals defeat The (NFC) San Diego Chargers 27-7 in the coldest game in NFL history.
The temperature at kickoff of the AFC Championship Game is -9, with a wind-chill factor of -59.

December 5 - The Cowboys beat Washington 24-10 at RFK Stadium for the club's - and Tom Landry's - 200th regular-season victory.

December 12 - New England defeats Miami 3-0 in the infamous "Snowplow Game."  In a "Snow Bowl" game when neither offense could even stand up straight, much less score, a convict snowplow man comes out and clears the field on the Sullivan Stadium turf, (Foxboro, Mass) for John Smith's 33-yard game-winning field-goal  late in the game.

Cable sports network ESPN signs a deal to televise games for the fledgling United States Football League. After the USFL folds, ESPN works out an agreement with the NFL to begin broadcasts of Sunday night, regular-season games in 1987. For the first time, football fans at home will have to pay to see an NFL game.

Major rule changes

  • The penalty for incidental grabbing of a facemask that is committed by the defensive team is changed from 5 yards and an automatic first down to just 5 yards.

  • The penalties for illegally kicking, batting, or punching the ball are changed from 15 yards to 10 yards.

1982 PLAYOFFS

AFC

First round playoffs 

MIAMI 28, New England 13

L.A. RAIDERS 27, Cleveland 10

N.Y. Jets 44, CINCINNATI 17

San Diego 31, PITTSBURGH 28

Second round playoffs:

N.Y. Jets 17, L.A. RAIDERS 14; MIAMI 34, San Diego 13

AFC Championship:

 MIAMI 14, N.Y. Jets 0

NFC

First round playoffs 

WASHINGTON 31, Detroit 7

GREEN BAY 41, St. Louis 16

MINNESOTA 30, Atlanta 24

DALLAS 30, Tampa Bay 17

Second round playoffs:

WASHINGTON 21, Minnesota 7; DALLAS 37, Green Bay 26

NFC Championship:

WASHINGTON 31, Dallas 17


Super Bowl XVII

Washington Redskins (NFC) 27, Miami Dolphins (AFC) 17,
 at Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California

Super Bowl XVII was the 17th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 30, 1983 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California following the 1982 regular season.

The National Football Conference (NFC) champion
Washington Redskins
defeated
the American Football Conference (AFC) champion
Miami Dolphins,
2717,
as the Redskins scored 17 unanswered points in the second half.

Washington fullback John Riggins was named Super Bowl MVP. He finished the game with 2 Super Bowl records: the most rushing yards in a Super Bowl game (166), and the most rushing attempts (38). His performance was also his fourth 100 yard rushing game in a row in a postseason game, a postseason record. Riggins also recorded a reception for 15 yards.

This game came at the end of a season that was significantly shortened by a players' strike.

       This was the second rematch in Super Bowl history, as the two teams met in Super Bowl VII. That game was also played in the Los Angeles area, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

    This was the first Super Bowl ever to have 3 consecutive drives end with interceptions.

    This game marked the fourth time in a Super Bowl that a team came back after being both behind at halftime and at the end of the 3rd quarter.


1983

January 30 - Washington beats Miami 27-17 in Super Bowl XVII. Fullback John Riggins

See above

The 1983 NFL season was the 64th regular season of the National Football League

The NFL again fended off competition from a rival league as the United States Football League attempted to tap into the talent pool in the mid-1980s. Perhaps the highlight of the decade, draft wise, came in 1983 when a group of college quarterbacks dominated the first round of that year's draft.

Six quarterbacks taken in the first round highlighted the 1983 NFL Draft. The group became known as the "Class of 1983" and the passers combined to dominate the NFL's offensive attack for more than a decade following their selection in the draft.

The famed "Class of 1983" consisted of six quarterbacks taken in the first round.

1. John Elway, Colts
7. Todd Blackledge, Chiefs
14. Jim Kelly, Bills
15. Tony Eason, Patriots
24. Ken O'Brien, Jets
27. Dan Marino, Dolphins.

Other notables taken that same year include Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson (#2) by the Los Angeles Rams and two players who are still active in the NFL: Houston Oiler's Bruce Matthews (#9) and Washington Redskin's Darrell Green (#28).

The Patriots passed on Dan Marino in the 1st round of the draft and instead chose quarterback Tony Eason.

University of Pittsburgh quarterback Dan Marino was chosen in the 1st round of the draft by The Miami Dolphins.

Minnesota Vikings head coach, Bud Grant retires after 17 seasons

September 11 - Pittsburgh Steeler's running back Franco Harris becomes the third player to rush for 11,000 yards. Harris finished his career with 12,120 rushing yards.

October 17 - Green Bay Packers beats Washington Redskins 48-47 in the highest scoring game in Monday night football history. The Packers and Redskins combine for over 1,000 yards of total offense

October 31 - George  Halas, the owner of the Bears and the last surviving member of the NFL's second organizational meeting, died at 88.

November 20 - Washington Redskin's John Riggins sets an NFL record by rushing for a touchdown in his 12th straight game. The score is his record-tying 19th rushing touchdown of the year. The streak ended at 13 consecutive games while Riggins went on to establish an NFL record with 24 touchdowns for the year

Major rule changes

  • In the last 30 seconds of a half, with the defensive team behind with no more time outs, a defensive foul cannot prevent the half to end except for the normal options that are available to the offensive team.

  • Pass interference will not be called if there was incidental contact, or if when players make simultaneous attempts to catch, tip, block, or bat the ball.

  • A player may not use a helmet, that is no longer worn by anyone, as a weapon to strike or hit an opponent.

1983 PLAYOFFS

AFC

Wild-Card playoff: SEATTLE 31, Denver 7
Divisional playoffs: Seattle 27, MIAMI 20; L.A. RAIDERS 38, Pittsburgh 10
AFC Championship: L.A. RAIDERS 30, Seattle 14

NFC

Wild-Card playoff: L.A. Rams 24, DALLAS 17
Divisional playoffs: SAN FRANCISCO 24, Detroit 23;
WASHINGTON 51, L.A. Rams 7
NFC Championship: WASHINGTON 24, San Francisco 21


Super Bowl XVIII

L.A. Raiders (AFC) 38, Washington Redskins (NFC) 9,
 at Tampa Stadium, Tampa, Florida

Super Bowl XVIII was the 18th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 22, 1984 at Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Florida following the 1983 regular season.

The American Football Conference (AFC) champion
Raiders,
 who were playing out of Los Angeles at that time,
defeated
the National Football Conference (NFC) champion
Washington Redskins,
389.

The Raiders' 38 points and their 29 point margin of victory were both Super Bowl records.

The fact that the Redskins had come into the game as the heavily-favored team but left with such a humiliating defeat led Super Bowl XVIII to be known as "Black Sunday," in reference to the Raiders' team colors.

Raiders' running back Marcus Allen was the Super Bowl MVP, carrying the ball 20 times, for a then-record total of 191 yards and two touchdowns, including a spectacular 74-yard run in the third quarter. His 74 yard run was also a record, and his 9.6 yards per carry average was the second highest in Super Bowl history. He also caught 2 passes for 18 yards, giving him 209 total yards from the line of scrimmage in the game.
 

The Los Angeles Raiders became the first team to score an offensive, defensive and special teams touchdown in the same Super Bowl.

   Apple's famous "1984" television commercial, introducing the Apple Macintosh computer and directed by Ridley Scott, ran during a timeout in the third quarter. The advertisement changed how the Super Bowl would be used as a media platform after that.

    Marcus Allen of the Los Angeles Raiders became just the third Heisman Trophy winner to be named Super Bowl Most Valuable Player.

    Washington Redskin's John Riggins became the second player to run for touchdowns in back-to-back Super Bowls. He had one in Super Bowl XVII en route to winning that game's Super Bowl MVP.

  Cliff Branch of the Los Angeles Raiders became just the 4th player to catch a touchdown in two different Super Bowls.

   This game would mark the last time that an AFC team would win a Super Bowl until the Denver Broncos defeated the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII 14 seasons later.

    Voice-over work for the highlight package to Super Bowl XVIII was John Facenda's final project for NFL Films. Facenda died a little more than eight months after the game.

   The Los Angeles Raiders were the only AFC team to win the Superbowl in the 1980's.


1984

The Los Angeles Raiders defeated Washington 38-9 in Super Bowl XVIII at Tampa Stadium, January 22. The game achieved a 46.4 rating and 71.0 share.

See Above

The 1984 NFL season was the 65th regular season of the National Football League. 

March 20 - An 11-man group headed by H.R. (Bum) Bright purchased the Dallas Cowboys from Clint Murchison, Jr. Club president Tex Schramm was designated as managing general partner.

March 21 - Patrick Bowlen purchased a majority interest in the Denver Broncos from Edgar Kaiser, Jr.

 March 28 - The Baltimore Colts relocated to Indianapolis, Indiana. Their new home became the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. See Colts History

The owners awarded two Super Bowl sites at their May 23-25 meetings: Super Bowl XXI, to be played on January 25, 1987, to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena; and Super Bowl XXII, to be played on January 31, 1988, to San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.

The New York Jets moved their home games to Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

August 28 - Alex G. Spanos purchased a majority interest in the San Diego Chargers from Eugene V. Klein.

December 2 - Houston Oilers (to be known as today's Tennessee Titans) defeated Pittsburgh 23-20 to mark the one-hundredth overtime game in regular-season play since overtime was adopted in 1974.

Houston Oilers (to be known as today's Tennessee Titans) running back Earl Campbell was traded to New Orleans Saints for the 1st round draft choice and quarterback Warren Moon was signed as a free agent.

On the field, many all-time records were set:
  • Art Monk of Washington caught 106 passes

  • Walter Payton of Chicago broke Jim Brown's career rushing mark (12,312 yards), finishing the season with 13,309 yards

October 7 - Chicago running back Walter Payton passes Jim Brown (12,312 yards) as the all-time rushing leader on a 6-yard run in third quarter of the Bears' 20-7 victory over New Orleans. Payton finishes the game with 154 yards, his record-setting 59th career 100-yard game.

Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins passed for 5,084 yards and 48 touchdowns

December 2 - Miami quarterback Dan Marino breaks the NFL single-season touchdown pass record when he throws his 37th in a 45-34 loss to the Raiders. He finishes the season with 48 touchdown passes.

  • Eric Dickerson of the Los Angeles Rams rushed for 2,105 yards

December 9 - Los Angeles Rams running back Eric Dickerson rushes for 215 yards in a 27-16 victory over Houston to top O.J. Simpson's single-season mark of 2,003 yards rushing. Dickerson finishes the year with 2,105 yards.

According to a CBS Sports/New York Times survey, 53 percent of the nation's sports fans said they most enjoyed watching football, compared to 18 percent for baseball, December 2-4.

NFL paid attendance exceeded 13 million for the fifth consecutive complete regular season when 13,398,112, an average of 59,813, attended games. The figure was the second-highest in league history. Teams averaged 42.4 points per game, the second-highest total since the 1970 merger.

November 4 - Seattle sets an NFL record by returning four interceptions for touchdowns in a 45-0 victory over Kansas City. Dave Brown scores twice while Kenny Easley and Keith Simpson also return interceptions for touchdowns. All of the scores are longer than 50 yards.

Satellite television opens access to football games anywhere, anytime. Private homes equipped with satellite dishes can view games all over the United States, at any time of day or night. Within a few years, satellite access has the sports-bar business booming.

Major rule changes

  • Linebackers are permitted to wear numbers 90-99.

  • The penalty for a kickoff or onside kick that goes out of bounds is 5 yards from the previous spot and a re-kick must be made. However, if the second (or more) kickoff or onside kick goes out of bounds, the receiving team may choose instead to take possession of the ball at the out of bounds spot.

  • Leaping to try to block a field goal or an extra point is illegal unless the defensive player was lined up at the line of scrimmage.

  • A kicker or holder who fakes being roughed or run into by a defensive player can receive an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

  • Unsportsmanlike conduct will also by called for any prolonged, excessive, or premeditated celebration by individual players or a group of players. This is usually referred to as the "Mark Gastineau Rule" because a major reason why this change was made was to stop him from performing his signature "Sack Dance" everytime after he sacked an opposing quarterback.

 

1984 PLAYOFFS

AFC

Wild-Card playoff: SEATTLE 13, L.A. Raiders 7
Divisional playoffs: MIAMI 31, Seattle 10; Pittsburgh 24, DENVER 17
AFC Championship: MIAMI 45, Pittsburgh 28

NFC

Wild-Card playoff: N.Y. Giants 16, L.A. RAMS 13
Divisional playoffs: SAN FRANCISCO 21, N.Y. Giants 10;
Chicago 23, WASHINGTON 19
NFC Championship: SAN FRANCISCO 23, Chicago 0


Super Bowl XIX

The season ended with Super Bowl XIX when the (NFC) San Francisco 49ers defeated the (AFC) Miami Dolphins 38 - 16 at Stanford Stadium, Stanford, California

Super Bowl XIX was the 19th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 20, 1985 at Stanford Stadium, on the campus of Stanford University in Stanford, California, following the 1984 regular season.

The National Football Conference (NFC) champion
San Francisco 49ers 
defeated
the American Football Conference (AFC) champion
Miami Dolphins,
3816.

Much hyped as the battle between two great quarterbacks, Miami's Dan Marino and San Francisco's Joe Montana, the 49ers would end up taking the game in dominating fashion. It would be Marino's only trip to the Super Bowl during his career.

Montana, who was named the Super Bowl MVP, completed 24 of 35 passes for a Super Bowl record 331 yards and three touchdowns. He also had 5 rushes for 59 yards and 1 rushing touchdown. His 59 rushing yards were the most rushing yards ever gained by a quarterback in the Super Bowl.

This Super Bowl was unique in that it fell on the same day that Ronald Reagan was inaugurated for a second term as President of the United States. Because January 20 fell on a Sunday, Reagan was sworn in privately and the public ceremony took place the following day.

It was the most watched game in history with an estimated 115.9 million viewers. This game also was the first time television commercials ran for a million dollars a minute.

  • This was the first Super Bowl ever in which the starting quarterbacks of each team both threw for over 300 yards. In addition, the two teams combined total of 851 offensive yards was a Super Bowl record.

  • Wendell Tyler became the first player to lead a Super Bowl in rushing for two different teams. As a member of the Los Angeles Rams, Tyler was the leading rusher in Super Bowl XIV with 60 yards.

  • This was the second time a team could have been considered a home team for a Super Bowl. That is with the 49ers played in nearby Stanford, Calif. The Los Angeles Rams also played nearby at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. in Super Bowl XIV.

  • The Dolphins joined the Dallas Cowboys as the only teams to appear in five Super Bowls. With their loss, the Dolphins also matched the Cowboys 2-3 record in their first five appearances. The 49ers would eventually appear in five Super Bowls as well, but would win all of them.

  •  The two teams combined for the most points in a 1st quarter in Super Bowl history. The 49ers scored the most points in a 2nd quarter with 21, in Super Bowl history. The 49ers' 28 points in the first half was the most points in a first half in Super Bowl history. The two teams also combined for a record 44 first half points.

  • The 49ers tied the Los Angeles Raiders for the most points in a Super Bowl with their 38. The Raiders set the mark only a year earlier.

  • The 49ers' 288 offensive yards in the first half also tied the Raiders in Super Bowl XI for the most offensive yards in a half during a Super Bowl.

  • The combined records for the two teams coming into the game were and still are the best in Super Bowl history. The 49ers were 17-1 and the Dolphins 16-2 including their playoff games.

  • ABC featured MacGruder and Loud after the game.

  • Actress Teri Hatcher was a 49ers cheerleader at the time, she can be seen on several close ups during the game.

  • In a Strong Bad e-mail cartoon from the Homestar Runner website, a flier advertising this particular game washes up in a bottle on a deserted island that Strong Bad and Homestar happen to be stranded on.

Milestones

The following players set all-time records during the season:

Most Yards Passing, season Dan Marino, Miami (5,084)
Most Rushing Yards, season Eric Dickerson, Los Angeles (2,105)
Most Receptions, season Art Monk, Washington (106)
Most Rushing Yards, career Walter Payton, Chicago (13,309 at the end of the season)


1985

The 1985 NFL season was the 66th regular season of the National Football League

January 4 - The Cowboys play their record 36th postseason game, but Eric Dickerson steals the show, rushing for a playoff-record 248 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Los Angeles Rams to a 20-0 victory over Dallas.

January 20 - The San Francisco 49er's defeated the Miami Dolphins 38-16 in Super Bowl XIX at Stanford Stadium in Stanford, California.
The game was viewed on television by more people than any other live event in history.
 President Ronald Reagan, who took his second oath of office before tossing the coin for the game, was one of 115,936,000 viewers. The game drew a 46.4 rating and a 63.0 share. In addition, 6 million people watched the Super Bowl in the United Kingdom and a similar number in Italy. Super Bowl XIX had a direct economic impact of $113.5 million on the San Francisco Bay area.

NBC Radio and the NFL entered into a two-year agreement granting NBC the radio rights to a 37-game package in each of the 1985-86 seasons, March 6. The package included 27 regular-season games and 10 postseason games.

The owners awarded two Super Bowl sites at their annual meeting, March 10-15: Super Bowl XXIII, to be played on January 22, 1989, to the proposed Dolphins Stadium in Miami; and Super Bowl XXIV, to be played on January 28, 1990, to the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

A Louis Harris poll in December revealed that pro football remained the sport most followed by Americans. Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed followed pro football, compared with 54 percent who followed baseball.

The NFL showed a ratings increase on all three networks for the season, gaining 4 percent on NBC, 10 on CBS, and 16 on ABC.

Bud Grant returns for the Minnesota Vikings  1985 season to replace Les Steckel. He then retired again after a 7-9 season and was replaced by longtime assistant Jerry Burns.

The league-wide conversion to videotape from movie film for coaching study was approved.

April 29 - Norman Braman, in partnership with Edward Leibowitz, bought the Philadelphia Eagles from Leonard Tose.

 April 30 - Bruce Smith, a Virginia Tech defensive lineman selected by Buffalo, was the first player chosen in the fiftieth NFL draft.

May 23 - The NFL owners adopted a resolution calling for a series of overseas preseason games, beginning in 1986, with one game to be played in England/Europe and/or one game in Japan each year. The game would be a fifth preseason game for the clubs involved and all arrangements and selection of the clubs would be under the control of the Commissioner.

June 3 - A group headed by Tom Benson, Jr., was approved to purchase the New Orleans Saints from John W. Mecom, Jr.

October 13 - Tony Dorsett becomes the sixth player in NFL history to rush for 10,000 yards as the Cowboys defeat Pittsburgh 27-13 win at Texas Stadium.

October 15 - Commissioner Rozelle was authorized to extend the commitment to Honolulu's Aloha Stadium for the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl for 1988, 1989, and 1990.

October 26 - Baltimore quarterback Bert Jones is sacked a record 12 times in a 17-10 loss to St. Louis. Houston quarterback Warren Moon would equal the mark on Sept. 29, 1985 at Dallas.

November 10 - San Diego running back Lionel James gains 345 all-purpose yards, the second highest total in NFL history as the Chargers defeat the Los Angeles Raiders 40-34 in overtime. James scores the winning touchdown on a 17-yard run.

Major rule changes

  • Whenever a team time out is called after the two minute warning of each half, it should only last 60 seconds instead of 90.

  • A play is immediately dead anytime the quarterback performs a kneel-down (the quarterback immediately kneels down after receiving the snap) after the two minute warning of each half, or whenever the player declares himself down by sliding feet first on the ground. The ball is then spotted at the point where the player touches the ground first.

  • Pass interference is not to be called when a pass is clearly uncatchable.

  • Both "Roughing the kicker" and "Running into the kicker" fouls are not to be called if the defensive player was blocked into the kicker.

  • The definition of a valid fair catch signal is clearly defined as one arm that is fully extended above the head and waved from side to side.

  • Goaltending (leaping up to deflect a kick as is passes through the goal posts) is illegal.

 

1985 PLAYOFFS

AFC

Wild-Card playoff: New England 26, N.Y. JETS 14
Divisional playoffs: MIAMI 24, Cleveland 21; New England 27, L.A. RAIDERS 20
AFC Championship: New England 31, MIAMI 14

NFC

Wild-Card playoff: N.Y. GIANTS 17, San Francisco 3
Divisional playoffs: L.A. RAMS 20, Dallas 0; CHICAGO 21, N.Y. Giants 0
NFC Championship: CHICAGO 24, L.A. Rams 0


Super Bowl XX

The season ended with Super Bowl XX when the (NFC) Chicago Bears defeated the (AFC) New England Patriots 46 - 10  at Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

 Super Bowl XX was the 20th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 26, 1986 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana following the 1985 regular season.

The New England Patriots reached the Super Bowl for the first time

The National Football Conference (NFC) champion
Chicago Bears 
defeated
 the American Football Conference (AFC) champion
New England Patriots,
46–10.

The Bears set Super Bowl records for sacks (7) and rushing yards allowed (7). Chicago's 46 points were the most ever scored by a team in the Super Bowl, and their 36-point margin of victory was also a Super Bowl record.
The Patriots were held to negative yardage (-19) throughout the entire first half, and just 123 total yards in the entire game, the second lowest total in Super Bowl history.

Bears defensive end Richard Dent, who had 1.5 quarterback sacks, forced 2 fumbles, and blocked a pass, was named the game's Most Valuable Player.

NFL owners awarded Super Bowl XXIV to New Orleans, Louisiana on December 14, 1982. This would be the sixth time that New Orleans hosted the Super Bowl. Tulane Stadium was the site of Super Bowls IV, VI, and IX; while the Louisiana Superdome previously hosted XII and XV.

The 1985 Chicago Bears became national stars. Under head coach Mike Ditka, who won the 1985 NFL Coach of the Year Award, they went 15-1 in the regular season, becoming the second NFL team ever to win 15 regular season games (after the 1984 San Francisco 49ers). Their only loss was in a Monday night game against the Miami Dolphins.

The Bears' then-revolutionary, strong defense, "46 Zone", enabled them to lead the league during the regular season in fewest points allowed (198), interceptions (34), fewest total yards allowed (4,135), and fewest rushing yards allowed (1,319). And under a strong running game, Chicago led the NFL in rushing yards (2,761) and rushing touchdowns (27), and finished second in the league in scoring (456 points).

A major reason why the 46 defense was so effective in 1985 was that almost all of their opponents were unprepared for its then-unusual primary tactic: blitz five to eight players on each play. But in less than two years, offensive coaches discovered how to exploit the 46 defense by using quick, timed passes from formations that used multiple receivers.

 This was the first Super Bowl to feature brand new participants since Super Bowl XVI.

The Bears' 21 points in the third quarter is still a record for the most points scored in that period.

   Richard Dent became just the second defensive end to be named Super Bowl MVP. The first being Harvey Martin, as he shared to MVP with fellow D-Lineman Randy White for Super Bowl XII.

Jim McMahon became the 6th player to rush for two touchdowns in a Super Bowl and he is still the only quarterback to rush for more than one touchdown in a Super Bowl.

      This was the first Super Bowl where the winning coach did not receive the traditional call from the President of the United States. Winning teams are now rewarded a trip to the White House to be congratulated by the President personally.

The NBC telecast replaced the final episode of M*A*S*H as the most-viewed television program in history, with an audience of 127 million viewers, according to A.C. Nielsen figures. In addition to drawing a 48.3 rating and a 70 percent share in the United States, Super Bowl XX was televised to 59 foreign countries and beamed via satellite to the QE II. An estimated 300 million Chinese viewed a tape delay of the game in March. NBC Radio figures indicated an audience of 10 million for the game.

Super Bowl XX injected more than $100 million into the New Orleans-area economy, and fans spent $250 per day and a record $17.69 per person on game day.


1986

The 1986 NFL season was the 67th regular season of the National Football League

January 26 - Chicago defeated New England 46-10 in Super Bowl XX at the Louisiana Superdome to end the 1985 season. The Patriots had earned the right to play the Bears by becoming the first wild-card team to win three consecutive games on the road.

Thus began a full 13 years of stadium talk in Chicago. Chicago business organizations proposed building a new Bears stadium south of Soldier Field, and in late 1989, Chicago heard its first utterance of the word "McDome."

March 11 - The owners adopted limited use of instant replay as an officiating aid, prohibited players from wearing or otherwise displaying equipment, apparel, or other items that carry commercial names, names of organizations, or personal messages of any type.

 July 29 - After an 11-week trial, a jury in U.S. District Court in New York awarded the United States Football League one dollar in its $1.7 billion antitrust suit against the NFL. The jury rejected all of the USFL's television-related claims, which were the self-proclaimed heart of the USFL's case.

August 3 - Chicago defeated Dallas 17-6 at Wembley Stadium in London in the first American Bowl. The game drew a sellout crowd of 82,699 and the NBC national telecast in this country produced a 12.4 rating and 36 percent share, making it the second-highest-rated daytime preseason game and highest daytime preseason television audience ever with 10.65-million viewers.

October 5 - Eric Dickerson runs for an overtime-record 42-yard touchdown as the Rams defeat the Buccaneers 26-20.

October 6 - Seattle wide receiver Steve Largent catches a pass in his 128th straight game, breaking the NFL record for most consecutive games with a reception.

Monday Night Football became the longest-running prime-time series in the history of the ABC network.

Marv Levy took over as Buffalo Bills head coach, replacing Hank Bullough.

Major rule changes

Players are prohibited from wearing apparel, equipment, or other items that carry commercial names, names of organizations, or any type of personal message unless they get specific permission from the league.

If the offensive team commits a dead ball foul during the last two minutes of a half, the clock will start at the snap.

If an offensive player fumbles the ball and it goes forward and out of bounds, the ball is returned to that team at the spot of the fumble.

If an offensive player fumbles the ball in the field of play and it goes out of bounds in the opponent's end zone, the ball is given to the defensive team at the spot of the fumble (this rule would be changed in 1991 to result in a touchback).


A limited system of instant replay was adopted to aid officiating. A replay official in a booth would decide what plays to review and make the final ruling, regardless of the current score or the amount of time left in the game. The replay official communicated with the game officials via radio transmitters. However, there was no time limit on how long the replay official could review a play (this was a major reason why the system was eventually repealed in 1992).

Instant replay was used to reverse two plays in 31 preseason games. During the regular season, 374 plays were closely reviewed by replay officials, leading to 38 reversals in 224 games. Eighteen plays were closely reviewed by instant replay in 10 post-season games with three reversals.

1986 PLAYOFFS

AFC

Wild-Card playoff: N.Y. JETS 35, Kansas City 15

Divisional playoffs: CLEVELAND 23, N.Y. Jets 20 (OT); DENVER 22, New England 17

Denver quarterback John Elway engineers "The Drive." Trailing Cleveland 20-13 with 5:32 remaining in the AFC championship game, Elway marches the Broncos 98 yards on 15 plays to force overtime, then moves Denver 60 yards on nine plays on their first possession of overtime to set up Rich Karlis' game-winning 33-yard field goal in the Broncos' 23-20 victory.

AFC Championship: Denver 23, CLEVELAND 20 (OT)

NFC

Wild-Card playoff: WASHINGTON 19, L.A. Rams 7

Divisional playoffs: Washington 27, CHICAGO 13; N.Y. GIANTS 49, San Francisco 3

NFC Championship: N.Y. GIANTS 17, Washington 0


Super Bowl XXI

N.Y. Giants (NFC) 39, Denver (AFC) 20, at Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California

Super Bowl XXI was the 21st Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL).
The game was played on January 25, 1987 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California following the 1986 regular season.

The National Football Conference (NFC) champion
New York Giants
defeated
the American Football Conference (AFC) champion
Denver Broncos,
3920.

The Giants scored 26 unanswered points during the second, third, and fourth quarters.
 The Giants scored the most points in a 2nd half in Super Bowl history with their 30 points.

New York quarterback Phil Simms was named the Super Bowl MVP. He finished the game completing 22 of 25 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns. Simms also had 25 rushing yards on 3 carries. His 22 out of 25 (88%) completion percentage not only set a Super Bowl record, but also an NFL postseason record.

NFL owners voted to award Super Bowl XXI to Pasadena, California during their May 23-25, 1984 meetings. This was the fourth time that Pasadena hosted the game, and the sixth time it was held in the Greater Los Angeles Area.

The 17 total points scored in the 1st quarter tied a Super Bowl record, set by San Francisco and Miami two years earlier in Super Bowl XIX.

Rich Karlis' 48-yard field goal tied the record for the longest field goal in Super Bowl history. Kansas City Chiefs kicker Jan Stenerud also made a 48-yard field goal in Super Bowl IV


1987

The 1987 NFL season was the 68th regular season of the National Football League

January 11 - Denver quarterback John Elway engineers "The Drive."  See above

January 25 - Following the 1986 season - The New York Giants defeated Denver 39-20 in Super Bowl XXI and captured their first NFL title since 1956. The game, played in Pasadena's Rose Bowl, drew a sellout crowd of 101,063. According to A.C. Nielsen figures, the CBS broadcast of the game was viewed in the U.S. on television by 122.64-million people, making the telecast the second most-watched television show of all-time behind Super Bowl XX. The game was watched live or on tape in 55 foreign countries and NBC Radio's broadcast of the game was heard by a record 10.1 million people.

Former NFL receiver Jerry Richardson began meetings with business leaders in hopes of landing an expansion franchise in Carolina.

The NFL set an all-time paid attendance mark of 17,304,463 for all games, including preseason, regular-season, and postseason. Average regular-season game attendance (60,663) exceeded the 60,000 figure for only the second time in league history.

New three-year TV contracts with ABC, CBS, and NBC were announced for 1987-89 at the NFL annual meeting in Maui, Hawaii, March 15. Commissioner Rozelle and Broadcast Committee Chairman Art Modell also announced a three-year contract with ESPN to televise 13 prime-time games each season. The ESPN contract was the first with a cable network. However, NFL games on ESPN also were scheduled for regular television in the city of the visiting team and in the home city if the game was sold out 72 hours in advance.

Owners also voted to continue in effect for one year the instant replay system used during the 1986 season.

Strike cancelled one week and created three weeks of replacement games
The Instant replay was used to reverse eight plays in 52 preseason games. During the strike-shortened 210-game regular season, 490 plays were closely reviewed by replay officials, leading to 57 reversals. Eighteen plays were closely reviewed by instant replay in 10 postseason games, with three reversals.

July 1 - Over 400 former NFL players from the pre-1959 era received first payments from NFL owners

A special payment program was adopted to benefit nearly 1,000 former NFL players who participated in the League before the current Bert Bell NFL Pension Plan was created and made retroactive to the 1959 season. Players covered by the new program spent at least five years in the League and played all or part of their career prior to 1959. Each vested player would receive $60 per month for each year of service in the League for life.

Possible sites for Super Bowl XXV were reduced to five locations by the NFL Super Bowl XXV Site Selection Committee: Anaheim Stadium, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Joe Robbie Stadium, San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, and Tampa Stadium.

NFL owners awarded Super Bowl XXV, to be played on January 27, 1991, to Tampa Stadium, May 20.

NFL and CBS Radio jointly announced agreement granting CBS the radio rights to a 40-game package in each of the next three NFL seasons, 1987-89, April 7.

The NFL's debut on ESPN produced the two highest-rated and most-watched sports programs in basic cable history. The Chicago at Miami game on August 16 drew an 8.9 rating in 3.81 million homes.

Those records fell two weeks later when the Los Angeles Raiders at Dallas game achieved a 10.2 cable rating in 4.36 million homes.

The 1987 season was reduced from a 16-game season to 15 as the result of a 24-day players' strike. The strike was called by the NFLPA on Tuesday, September 22, following the New England at New York Jets game. Games scheduled for the third weekend were canceled but the games of weeks four, five, and six were played with replacement teams. Striking players returned for the seventh week of the season, October 25.

Due to Game 7 of the 1987 World Series, the Denver Broncos - Minnesota Vikings game at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome was moved back one day to Monday, October 26.

October 31 - In a three-team "Deal of the Decade" involving 10 players and/or draft choices, the Los Angeles Rams traded running back Eric Dickerson to the Indianapolis Colts for six draft choices and two players. Buffalo obtained the rights to linebacker Cornelius Bennett from Indianapolis, sending Greg Bell and three draft choices to the Rams. The Colts added Owen Gill and three draft choices of their own to complete the deal with the Rams

The Chicago at Minnesota game became the highest-rated and most-watched sports program in basic cable history when it drew a 14.4 cable rating in 6.5 million homes, December 6.

After a 5-10 finish to the 1987 season, Tom Flores moved to the Raiders' front office, but left after just one year to become the president and general manager of the Seattle Seahawks.

The Miami Dolphins moved from the Orange Bowl to Jo Robbie Stadium, which was later named Pro Player Stadium.

September 13 - Quarterback Steve DeBerg establishes a franchise record with five touchdown passes and the Buccaneers set marks for most points (48) and the largest margin of victory (38) in a 48-10 win over the Falcons.

September 20 - Chicago running back Walter Payton scored his NFL record 107th rushing touchdown in the Bears' 20-3 victory over Tampa Bay, while in Cincinnati, San Francisco wide receiver Dwight Clark's record streak of 105 consecutive games with a reception came to an end when he was held without a catch in San Francisco's 27-26 victory over the Bengals.

November 29  Vencie Glenn returns an interception 103 yards for a touchdown against Denver.
To be matched  October 4 1992 - Miami's Louis Oliver returns an interception a record-tying 103 yards for a touchdown against Buffalo, tying the mark established by Vencie Glenn against Denver on Nov. 29, 1987.

November 30 - Los Angeles Raiders running back Bo Jackson rushes for 221 yards in just his fifth career NFL game as the Raiders beat Seattle 37-14. Jackson scores on runs of 91 and 2 yards, and adds a 14-yard touchdown catch.

December 27 - Seattle wide receiver Steve Largent catches six passes in a 41-20 loss at Kansas City to become the NFL's all-time leading receiver with 751 receptions.

Major rule changes

  • If a defensive player commits pass interference in his own end zone, the ball is placed at the 1-yard line, or if the previous spot was inside the 2-yard line, the penalty is half the distance to the goal line.

  • Except for the first onside kick attempt, if a kickoff goes out of bounds, the receiving team takes possession of the ball 30 yards from the spot of the kick or the spot it went out of bounds.

  • In order to stop the clock, the quarterback is permitted to throw the ball out of bounds or to the ground as long as he throws it immediately after receiving the snap.

  • During passing plays, an offensive player cannot chop block (block a defender below the thigh while the defensive player is already engaging another offensive player).

  • Illegal contact by a defensive player beyond the 5-yard zone from the line of scrimmage will not be called if the offensive team is in an obvious punt formation.

  • During kicks and punts, players on the receiving team cannot block below the waist. However, players on the kicking team may block below the waist, but only before the kick is made. On all other plays after a change of posession, no player can block below the waist.

1987 PLAYOFFS

AFC

Wild-Card playoff: HOUSTON 23, Seattle 20 (OT)
Divisional playoffs: CLEVELAND 38, Indianapolis 21; DENVER 34, Houston 10
AFC Championship: DENVER 38, Cleveland 33

NFC

Wild-Card playoff: Minnesota 44, NEW ORLEANS 10
Divisional playoffs: Minnesota 36, SAN FRANCISCO 24;
Washington 21, CHICAGO 17
NFC Championship: WASHINGTON 17, Minnesota 10


Super Bowl XXII

Washington (NFC) 42, Denver (AFC) 10, at Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego, California

Super Bowl XXII was the 22nd Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL).
The game was played on January 31, 1988 at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California following the 1987 regular season.

The National Football Conference (NFC) champion
Washington Redskins
defeated
the American Football Conference (AFC) champion
Denver Broncos,
4210.

The Redskins set the following Super Bowl records en route to the victory:

  • Most offensive yards (602)

  • Most offensive rushing yards (280)
  • Most touchdowns scored in a Super Bowl game (6)
  • Most offensive yards in a quarter (356)
  • Most points in a quarter (35)
  • Most touchdowns in a quarter (5)
  • The largest deficit that a team has ever overcome to win a Super Bowl (10 points)

Redskins quarterback Doug Williams was named the Super Bowl MVP, completing 18 of 29 passes for a Super Bowl record 340 yards and four touchdowns, with one interception.


Redskins, rookie unning back Timmy Smith set a Super Bowl rushing record, gaining 204 yards and scoring two touchdowns.
 Smith returned to the news in 2005 when he was arrested for allegedly trying to sell cocaine to an undercover police officer - ironically, in Denver. Smith pled guilty in March 2006 for conspiring to distribute cocaine, and was sentenced to two and a half years in federal prison in May

This game came at the end of a season that was shortened by a players' strike, but each team only lost one regular season game due to the labor dispute.

NFL owners voted to award Super Bowl XXII to San Diego during their May 23-25, 1984 meetings. This was the first Super Bowl to be played at Jack Murphy Stadium (now currently known as Qualcomm Stadium) in San Diego.

ABC uses a remote-controlled camera on a goal post during its broadcast of Super Bowl XXII, a matchup between the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos.

   The Broncos and Redskins combined for a total of 929 offensive yards, the most ever by both teams in a Super Bowl.

   This marked the first Super Bowl in which both starting quarterbacks were former first round draft picks, but were originally drafted by other teams. Doug Williams was taken in the first round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1978, while John Elway was drafted by the Baltimore Colts in the first round in 1983.

Washington's 35 points and 356 yards in the second period also set the overall NFL postseason records for the most points and offensive yards in a single quarter, respectively.

Doug Williams became the first player in Super Bowl history to throw 4 touchdowns in a single quarter, and throw four in a half.
Initially Williams served as the backup for starting quarterback Jay Schroeder, but after Schroeder became injured, Williams ended up starting the last games of the 1987 regular season. When the Skins made the playoffs, Williams, with his 94.0 passer rating, remained starter. He led the team to Super Bowl XXII, becoming the first black quarterback to play in the Super Bowl.

Ricky Sanders became the first player to catch 2 touchdowns in a single quarter.

   The Broncos became the first team in Super Bowl history to score a touchdown on their first play from scrimmage.

   This would be the first Super Bowl broadcast on ABC to have the broadcast team of Michaels, Gifford and Dierdorf. The trio would man the booth for ABC's Monday Night Football from 1987 to 1997.

  The Redskins became the third consecutive team to win the Super Bowl after being shutout in the playoffs by the previous Super Bowl champion. The Chicago Bears won Super Bowl XX a year after losing in the 1984 NFC Championship Game to the San Francisco 49ers, 23-0. The New York Giants would then lose to the Bears, 21-0, in the 1985 Divisional Playoff Round. And the Redskins were eliminated by the Giants, 17-0, in the 1986 NFC Championship Game.


1988

Following the 1987 season

January 17 -  Cleveland Browns vs. Denver Broncos, AFC Championship Game
Trailing 38-31 with 1:12 remaining in the game, the Browns' Earnest Byner appeared to be on his way to score the game tying touchdown. But he fumbled the ball at the 3-yard line. The Broncos recovered the ball, gave the Browns an intentional safety, and went on to win 38-33, sending the Broncos to their second consecutive Super Bowl appearance (Super Bowl XXII).

The 1988 NFL season was the 69th regular season of the National Football League. 

Washington defeated Denver 42-10 in Super Bowl XXII to earn its second victory this decade in the NFL Championship Game ending the 1987 season.
The game, played for the first time in San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium, drew a sellout crowd of 73,302. According to A.C. Nielsen figures, the ABC broadcast of the game was viewed in the U.S. on television by 115,000,000 people. The game was seen live or on tape in 60 foreign countries, including the People's Republic of China, and CBS's radio broadcast of the game was heard by 13.7 million people.

St Louis Cardinals became Phoenix Cardinals
NFL owners approved the transfer of the St. Louis Cardinals' franchise from St. Louis to Phoenix.

March 10 - In a unanimous 3-0 decision, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld the verdict of the jury that in July, 1986, had awarded the United States Football League one dollar in its $1.7 billion antitrust suit against the NFL. In a 91-page opinion, Judge Ralph K. Winter said the USFL sought through court decree the success it failed to gain among football fans

March 14 thru 18 - NFL owners approved two supplemental drafts each year-one prior to training camp and one prior to the regular season; and voted to initiate an annual series of games in Japan/Asia as early as the 1989 preseason

April 24 and 25 The NFL Annual Selection Meeting returned to a separate two-day format and for the first time originated on a Sunday. ESPN drew a 3.6 rating during their seven-hour coverage of the draft, which was viewed in 1.6 million homes

August 25 - Art Rooney, founder and owner of the Steelers, died at 87.

Commissioner Rozelle announced that two teams would play a preseason game as part of the American Bowl series on August 6, 1989, in the Korakuen Tokyo Dome in Japan, December 16. 

September 25 - New York Jets quarterback Ken O'Brien throws his first interception in 211 attempts, the second longest streak in NFL history at that point.

Tom Flores becomes the president and general manager of the Seattle Seahawks.

A total of 811 players shared in the postseason pool of $16.9 million, the most ever distributed in a single season.

By a 23-5 margin, owners voted to continue the instant replay system for the third consecutive season with the Instant Replay Official to be assigned to a regular seven-man, on-the-field crew. At the NFL annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, a 45-second clock was also approved to replace the 30-second clock. For a normal sequence of plays, the interval between plays was changed to 45 seconds from the time the ball is signaled dead until it is snapped on the succeeding play.

NFL regular-season paid attendance of 13,535,335 and the average of 60,427 was the third highest all-time. Buffalo set an NFL team single-season, in-house attendance mark of 622,793.

December 31 - Philadelphia Eagles vs. Chicago Bears, NFC Divisional Playoff Game

A heavy, dense fog rolled over the stadium (Soldier Field) during the second quarter, cutting visibility to about 15-20 yards for the rest of the game. The fog was so thick that TV and radio announcers had trouble seeing what was happening on the field. The Bears ended up winning 20-12.

Major rule changes

A standard system of two time intervals between plays are established (and would be timed using the Play Clock): For normal plays, the offensive team has 45 seconds to snap the ball after the previous play is signaled dead. After time outs and other administrative stoppages, the time limit is 30 seconds beginning after the Referee signals that the ball is ready to resume play.

If a fumble occurs during an extra point attempt, only the fumbling player can recover and/or advance the ball. This change closes a loophole in the "Stabler Fumble Rule" that was enacted during the 1979 NFL season in reaction to the Holy Roller Game.

The penalty for "Running into the kicker" is changed from five yards and a first down to just 5 yards.

September 4 - Johnny Grier became the first African-American referee in NFL history.

Finally in 1988, the NFL copied what high-school and college football had been doing for years: The referee puts on a white hat and the other officials put on a black hat.
(For several decades, every NFL official wore white hats. In 1979, NFL referees started to wear black hats, while every other NFL official continued to wear white -- apparently a cost-cutting move)

1988 PLAYOFFS

AFC

Wild-Card playoff: Houston 24, CLEVELAND 23
Divisional playoffs: CINCINNATI 21, Seattle 13; BUFFALO 17, Houston 10
AFC Championship: CINCINNATI 21, Buffalo 10

NFC

Wild-Card playoff: MINNESOTA 28, L.A. Rams 17
Divisional playoffs: CHICAGO 20, Philadelphia 12;
SAN FRANCISCO 34, Minnesota 9
NFC Championship: San Francisco 28, CHICAGO 3


Super Bowl XXIII

San Francisco (NFC) 20, Cincinnati (AFC) 16, at Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami, Florida

Super Bowl XXIII was the 23rd Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL).
The game was played on January 22, 1989 at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, Florida (now part of the suburb of Miami Gardens) following the 1988 regular season.

The National Football Conference (NFC) champion
San Francisco 49ers
defeated
the American Football Conference (AFC) champion
Cincinnati Bengals,
2016.

 This was the second meeting between the two teams in the Super Bowl; they first met seven years earlier in Super Bowl XVI.

The game is remembered for the 49ers' comeback from a 16-13 deficit. San Francisco got the ball on their own eight yard line with 3:10 on the clock, and marched 92 yards down the field in under three minutes. They then scored the winning touchdown on a Joe Montana pass to John Taylor with just 34 seconds left in the game.

49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice was named the Super Bowl MVP. He caught 11 passes for a Super Bowl record 215 yards and one touchdown, while also rushing once for 5 yards.

This was also the final NFL game coached by the 49ers' Bill Walsh.

NFL owners voted to award Super Bowl XXIII to Miami, Florida during their March 10-15, 1985 meetings. This was the sixth time that Miami hosted the game, and the first at Joe Robbie Stadium; the 5 previous Super Bowls in the area were played at Miami Orange Bowl.

This would be a rematch of Super Bowl XVI, with the 49ers also winning that game, by a 26-21 score.

The rematch was the third time in Super Bowl history two teams were meeting for a second time. Miami and Washington met in Super Bowls VII and XVII, with the teams splitting the games. Dallas and Pittsburgh met in Super Bowls X and XIII, with Pittsburgh winning both of those games. Both Dallas-Pittsburgh matchups were in Miami at the Orange Bowl. Pittsburgh and Dallas would later meet in Super Bowl XXX (which the Cowboys won by 10) to become the first two teams to ever meet three times in the Super Bowl.

Stanford Jennings would be the second player to return a kickoff for a touchdown in Super Bowl history. In three games played at Joe Robbie Stadium, each game had a kickoff return for a score.

This was the last Super Bowl to have played on the second to last Sunday in January. Ever since, the game has been played on the last Sunday of January and now the first Sunday in February.

The 49ers became the 6th team to win the Super Bowl over a team with a better regular season record going into the game (12-6 for the 49ers to 14-4 for the Bengals).

The 49ers became the first team, since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule in 1978, to win the Super Bowl after winning only 10 games during the regular season.

In order to calm his teammates in the huddle just before the final game-winning drive, Montana pointed into the stadium crowd and said "Hey, isn't that John Candy?" The moment worked, and the 49ers were able to drive down the field for the win. It became the defining moment of Montana's "Joe Cool" reputation.

This was the final Super Bowl that Pete Rozelle presided over as NFL Commissioner.

On January 26, 2006, NFL.com ranked this game number 1 on its list of the top 10 Super Bowls of all-time

Bengal's, Boomer Esiason was so depressed from his team's narrow loss that he decided not to play in the Pro Bowl a week later


1989

The 1989 NFL season was the 70th regular season of the National Football League. 

San Francisco defeated Cincinnati 20-16 in Super Bowl XXIII following the 1988 season.
The game, played for the first time at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, was attended by a sellout crowd of 75,129.
NBC's telecast of the game was watched by an estimated 110,780,000 viewers, according to A.C. Nielsen, making it the sixth most-watched program in television history. The game was seen live or on tape in 60 foreign countries, including an estimated 300 million in China. The CBS Radio broadcast of the game was heard by 11.2 million people.

March 19 thru 23 - A strengthened policy regarding anabolic steroids and masking agents was announced by Commissioner Rozelle. NFL clubs called for strong disciplinary measures in cases of feigned injuries and adopted a joint proposal by the Long-Range Planning and Finance committees regarding player personnel rules

March 22 - Commissioner Rozelle announced his retirement, pending the naming of a successor at the NFL annual meeting in Palm Desert, California.
see Successor dated October 26

Following the announcement, AFC president Lamar Hunt and NFC president Wellington Mara announced the formation of a six-man search committee composed of Art Modell, Robert Parins, Dan Rooney, and Ralph Wilson. Hunt and Mara served as co-chairmen.

April 1 - Two hundred twenty-nine unconditional free agents signed with new teams under management's Plan B system.

April 18 - Tex Schramm was named president of the new World League of American Football to work with a six-man committee of Dan Rooney, chairman; Norman Braman, Lamar Hunt, Victor Kiam, Mike Lynn, and Bill Walsh

By a 24-4 margin, owners voted to continue the instant replay system for the fourth straight season. 

April 18 - Jerry Jones purchased a majority interest in the Dallas Cowboys from H.R. (Bum) Bright.
Jones fired head coach Tom Landry and hired University of Miami coach Jimmy Johnson to replace him.

April 18 - NFL and CBS Radio jointly announced agreement extending CBS's radio rights to an annual 40-game package through the 1994 season.

 May 24 - NFL owners awarded Super Bowl XXVI, to be played on January 26, 1992, to Minneapolis.

September 10 - Indianapolis running back Eric Dickerson rushes for 106 yards against San Francisco to become the fastest player to top the 10,000-yard plateau, doing it in his 91st career game.
Cleveland's Jim Brown hit 10,000 yards in his 98th game.

As of opening day, September 10, of the 229 Plan B free agents, 111 were active and 23 others were on teams' reserve lists. Ninety-two others were waived and three retired.

 October 3 - Art Shell became Oakland Raiders head coach, becoming the first black (African-American) to hold that position since Fritz Pollard coached the Akron Pros in 1921

October 9 - Art Shell, the first black (African-American) head coach in the modern era, leads the Oakland Raiders to a 14-7 victory over the New York Jets in his first game at the helm.

October 19 - The site of the New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ers game scheduled for Candlestick Park on October 22 was switched to Stanford Stadium in the aftermath of the Bay Area Earthquake of October 17 due to damage caused by the Loma Prieta earthquake to Candlestick Park. The change was announced on October 19.

The transfer from Commissioner Rozelle to Commissioner Tagliabue took place at 12:01 A.M. on Sunday, November 5.

 November 6 - NFL Charities donated $1 million through United Way to benefit Bay Area earthquake victims.

November 23,- Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys  In the Cowboys' annual Thanksgiving game, the Eagles won 27-0, in the only Thanksgiving shutout Dallas has suffered to date. The game was ill-tempered, with several scuffles between opposing players, and Cowboys (and former Eagles) kicker Luis Zendejas was knocked out of the game with a concussion thanks to a hard hit during a kickoff. After the game, Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson accused Eagles coach Buddy Ryan of placing bounties on Zendejas and Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman.

November 26 - Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Willie "Flipper" Anderson makes 15 catches for an NFL record 336 yards and a touchdown as the Rams rally for a 20-17 overtime victory over The New Orleans Saints

December 10 - Seattle wide receiver Steve Largent makes his NFL record 100th touchdown catch in the Seahawks' 24-17 win at Cincinnati.

December 10 - Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles Rematch  -  The equally ill-tempered rematch, won 20-10 by the Eagles, was played in a Veterans Stadium that was not cleaned of snow that had fallen for several days in Philadelphia. The notoriously rowdy Eagles crowd, lubricated by considerable amounts of beer, threw snowballs, iceballs, batteries, and other objects at anyone in sight. One game official was knocked to the ground by a barrage of snowballs, Johnson had to be escorted from the field by Philadelphia police through a hail of debris, and CBS broadcasters Verne Lundquist and Terry Bradshaw had to dodge snowballs aimed at the broadcast booth. Even Eagles star Jerome Brown became a target when he stood on the players' bench pleading with fans to stop throwing debris on the field. Future Governor of Pennsylvania Ed Rendell, an avowed Eagles fanatic, later admitted to having participated in the bedlam.


Paul Tagliabue became the seventh chief executive of the NFL on October 26 when he was chosen to succeed Commissioner Pete Rozelle on the sixth ballot of a three-day meeting in Cleveland, Ohio.

In all, 12 ballots were required to select Tagliabue. Two were conducted at a meeting in Chicago on July 6, and four at a meeting in Dallas on October 10-11. On the twelfth ballot, with Seattle absent, Tagliabue received more than the 19 affirmative votes required for election from among the 27 clubs present.

NFL paid attendance of 17,399,538 was the highest total in league history. This included a total of 13,625,662 for an average of 60,829-both NFL records-for the 224-game regular season.

Touchdown Jacksonville! Was formed to lead an effort tp land an NFL franchise for the city.

McDome was a proposal for a new domed Bears stadium, similar in style to those built in Indianapolis, Minnesota and Detroit. (One of these stadiums is now vacant, the other two have very unhappy tenants and visitors). The dome was proposed to the Illinois Legislature as a part of the McCormick Place expansion plan. Bears President Michael McCaskey aligned with Governor Jim Edgar on the proposal, but the plan was rejected by the Illinois Legislature in late 1990. Although it's safe to say the vast majority of Bears fans were relieved to learn the team would not be playing indoors, McCaskey was disappointed, and for the first time indicated that the organization would consider all alternatives, including relocation, to acquire a new stadium.

Major rule changes

  • After a foul that occurs inside the last two minutes of the first half and inside the last five minutes of the second half, the game clock will start at the snap, instead of when the ball is spotted and the Referee signals it is ready to be played.

  • New rules are enacted, including loss of time outs or five-yard penalties, to handle the problems of crowd noise when it becomes too loud that it prevents the offensive team from hearing its signals.

  • If a receiver and a defender eventually establish joint control of a pass, the ball will be awarded to whoever was the first one who established control the ball

The NFL revised its playoff format to include two additional wild-card teams (one per conference).

 

1989 PLAYOFFS

AFC

Wild-Card playoff: Pittsburgh 26, HOUSTON 23 (OT)
Divisional playoffs: CLEVELAND 34, Buffalo 30; DENVER 24, Pittsburgh 23
AFC Championship: DENVER 37, Cleveland 21

NFC

Wild-Card playoff: L.A. Rams 21, PHILADELPHIA 7
Divisional playoffs: L.A. Rams 19, N.Y. GIANTS 13 (OT);
SAN FRANCISCO 41, Minnesota 13
NFC Championship: SAN FRANCISCO 30, L.A. Rams 3


Super Bowl XXIV

San Francisco (NFC) 55, Denver (AFC) 10, at Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

Super Bowl XXIV was the 24th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL).
The game was played on January 28, 1990 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana following the 1989 regular season.

The National Football Conference (NFC) champion
San Francisco 49ers 
defeated
the American Football Conference (AFC) champion
Denver Broncos,
5510.

 It remains the most lopsided game in Super Bowl history to date. The 49ers' 55 points were the most ever scored by one team, and their 45-point margin of victory was the largest ever.

Joe Montana was named the Super Bowl MVP, his third award in his fourth Super Bowl victory. He completed 22 of 29 passes for a total of 297 yards and a Super Bowl record 5 touchdowns, while also rushing for 15 yards. Montana's 75.9 completion percentage was the second highest in Super Bowl history, and he also set a record by completing 13 consecutive passes during the game. Head coach George Seifert was the second rookie head coach to win a Super Bowl.

NFL owners voted to award Super Bowl XXIV to New Orleans, Louisiana during their March 10-15, 1985 meetings. This would be a record 7th time that New Orleans hosted the Super Bowl. Tulane Stadium was the site of Super Bowls IV, VI, and IX; while the Louisiana Superdome previously hosted XII, XV, and XX.

  The Broncos became the second team to lose three Super Bowls in four years after losing Super Bowls XXI and XXII, both by considerable margins as well.
The Vikings also lost three Super Bowls in four years (VIII, IX and XI). 
The Buffalo Bills have also joined this group since.

   The 49ers are the only team in a Super Bowl to score at least two touchdowns in each quarter. Their 2nd of 8 touchdowns ended with a missed extra point however. They are also the only team to score 8 touchdowns in a Super Bowl.

   Rice joined teammate Roger Craig as the only players to score three touchdowns in a Super Bowl. Craig did it in Super Bowl XIX (2 receiving and 1 rushing).

   With this game, the first four Super Bowls played at the Superdome ended with the losing team scoring 10 points. Denver in Super Bowl XII by a 27-10 score, Philadelphia in Super Bowl XV by a 27-10 score and New England in Super Bowl XX by a 46-10 score.

Montana became the third player in league history to win both the Super Bowl MVP and the AP Most Valuable Player Award during the same season. Bart Starr and Terry Bradshaw also won both after the 1966 and 1978 seasons, respectively.


1990

San Francisco defeated Denver 55-10 in Super Bowl XXIV at the Louisiana Superdome, January 28. San Francisco joined Pittsburgh as the NFL's only teams to win four Super Bowls.

Third wild-card team in each conference added to playoffs
The 1990 NFL season was the 71st regular season of the National Football League. To increase revenue, the league changed the regular season so that all NFL teams would play their 16-game schedule over a 17-week period. Furthermore, the playoff format was expanded from 10 teams to 12 teams by adding another wild card from each conference.

The NFL revised its playoff format to include two additional wild-card teams (one per conference).

The NFL announced plans to expand its American Bowl series of preseason games. In addition to games in London and Tokyo, American Bowl games were scheduled for Berlin, Germany, and Montreal, Canada, in 1990.

February 16 - The NFL announced revisions in its 1990 draft eligibility rules. College juniors became eligible but must renounce their collegiate football eligibility before applying for the NFL Draft

February 27 - Commissioner Tagliabue announced NFL teams will play their 16-game schedule over 17 weeks in 1990 and 1991 and 16 games over 18 weeks in 1992 and 1993

March 12 - For the fifth straight year, NFL owners voted to continue a limited system of Instant Replay. Beginning in 1990, the replay official will have a two-minute time limit to make a decision. The vote was 21-7

March 14 - Commissioner Tagliabue announced the formation of a Committee on Expansion and Realignment, March 13. He also named a Player Advisory Council, comprised of 12 former NFL players

April 2 - One-hundred eighty-four Plan B unconditional free agents signed with new teams

May 17 - Commissioner Tagliabue appointed Dr. John Lombardo as the League's Drug Advisor for Anabolic Steroids, April 25 and named Dr. Lawrence Brown as the League's Advisor for Drugs of Abuse

May 23 - NFL owners awarded Super Bowl XXVIII, to be played in 1994, to the proposed Georgia Dome

July 12 - Commissioner Tagliabue named NFL referee Jerry Seeman as NFL Director of Officiating, replacing Art McNally, who announced his retirement after 31 years on the field and at the league office

August 4 thru 11  -  NFL International Week was celebrated with four preseason games in seven days in Tokyo, London, Berlin, and Montreal. More than 200,000 fans on three continents attended the four games

September 20 - Commissioner Tagliabue announced the NFL Teacher of the Month program in which the League furnishes grants and scholarships in recognition of teachers who provided a positive influence upon NFL players in elementary and secondary schools

October 1 - For the first time since 1957, every NFL club won at least one of its first four games

October 2 - Bob Shaw established an NFL record with five touchdown catches as the Chicago Cardinals defeated the Baltimore Colts 55-13.
The record was tied in 1981 by San Diego Chargers Kellen Winslow
and again in 1990 by San Francisco 49ers, Jerry Rice.

October 14 - Houston quarterback Warren Moon passes for 369 yards and five touchdowns as the Oilers beat Cincinnati 48-17, becoming the first person to throw for over 20,000 yards in two different leagues

November 11 - Kansas City linebacker Derrick Thomas sets an NFL record with seven sacks, but Seattle quarterback Dave Krieg somehow slips free of Thomas to throw a 25-yard game-winning touchdown pass in the closing seconds as the Seahawks beat the Chiefs 17-16.

November 18 - Art Monk becomes only the third player in NFL history to amass 700 career receptions when he makes four catches against the Saints.
Marvin Harrison for the Indianapolis colts passes that record in 2006 when he had seven catches for 127 yards and passed Art Monk for fifth on the career receptions list. Harrison has 943 career receptions.

Commissioner Tagliabue and Broadcast Committee Chairman Art Modell announced a four-year contract with Turner Broadcasting to televise nine Sunday-night games.

New four-year TV agreements were ratified for 1990-93 for ABC, CBS, NBC, ESPN, and TNT at the NFL annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, March 12. The contracts totaled $3.6 billion, the largest in TV history.

Major rule changes

  • The rule for unnecessary roughness penalties is clarified so that any player who butts, spears, or rams an opponent can be ejected from the game.

  • The penalty for an illegal forward pass beyond the line of scrimmage is enforced from the spot where any part of the passer's body is beyond the line when the ball is released.

  • The following changes are made to try to speed up the game: 

  • The time interval on the Play Clock (the time limit the offensive team has to snap the ball between plays) after time outs and other administrative stoppages has been reduced from 30 seconds to 25 seconds (the time interval between plays remains the same at 45 seconds).

  • Whenever a player goes out of bounds, outside of the last two minutes of the first half and outside of the last five minutes of the second half, the Game clock immediately starts when the ball is spotted for the next play and the Referee signals it is ready for play.

  • Outside of the last two minutes of the first half and outside of the last five minutes of the second half, the Game clock also starts following all declined penalties.

1990 PLAYOFFS

AFC

Wild-Card playoffs: MIAMI 17, Kansas City 16; CINCINNATI 41, Houston 14
Divisional playoffs: BUFFALO 44, Miami 34; L.A. RAIDERS 20, Cincinnati 10
AFC Championship: BUFFALO 51, L.A. Raiders 3

NFC

Wild-Card playoffs: Washington 20, PHILADELPHIA 6; CHICAGO 16, New Orleans 6
Divisional playoffs: SAN FRANCISCO 28, Washington 10; N.Y. GIANTS 31, Chicago 3
NFC Championship: N.Y. Giants 15, SAN FRANCISCO 13


Super Bowl XXV

Super Bowl XXV was the 25th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 27, 1991 before a sellout crowd of 73,813, at Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Florida following the 1990 regular season.

The National Football Conference (NFC) champion
New York Giants
defeated
the American Football Conference (AFC) champion
Buffalo Bills,
20–19.

The Giants won their second Super Bowl, while the Bills would begin a dubious streak of four straight Super Bowl losses.

Super Bowl XXV was played under much patriotic fervor, due to the Gulf War. The proceedings included a rousing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by Whitney Houston, which was later released as a single, where it reached number twenty on the Billboard Music Charts, making her the only artist to turn the national anthem into a hit single.
Due to threats of terrorism associated with the Gulf War, extra security measures were put in place at Tampa Stadium, including the positioning of FBI sharpshooters at the upper levels of the stadium.

Giants running back Ottis Anderson, who carried the ball 21 times for 102 yards and one touchdown, was named Super Bowl MVP. Thomas also recorded one reception for seven yards

However, the game is best remembered for Bills placekicker Scott Norwood's 47-yard missed field goal attempt in the waning seconds of the game which went wide right, losing the game for the Bills, and angering fans.

Some fans and sports writers, have argued that Thomas had the best performance of the game, so therefore he should have won the MVP award even though his team lost. He had far more yards and catches then New York Giants running back Ottis Anderson, who won the MVP, finishing the game with 102 rushing yards, 1 reception for 7 yards, and a touchdown. Also a player winning the Super Bowl MVP award on a losing team is not unprecedented; Chuck Howley accomplished this feat in Super Bowl V.

The Giants set a Super Bowl record for time of possession with 40 minutes, 33 seconds, including 22 minutes in the second half.

This is the first Super Bowl involving two teams representing the same state (though the New York Giants play in East Rutherford, New Jersey).

 Don Smith's 1-yard touchdown run was his only carry of the game and the last carry of his career.

Andre Reed's 5 first quarter receptions were a Super Bowl record.

Buffalo became the first team to record a safety in a Super Bowl and lose the game.

This was only the second Super Bowl to have two 100-yard rushers (Thurman Thomas and Ottis Anderson).
In Super Bowl III, New York Jets running back Matt Snell recorded 121 rushing yards while Baltimore Colts running back Tom Matte ran for 116.

 Thomas' 135 yards are the most yards rushing for a member of a losing team.

 This Super Bowl started a trend of beginning the game shortly after 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (6:18 p.m.). Subsequent Super Bowls never have started earlier.

Giants head coach Bill Parcells retired shortly after winning his second Super Bowl with the Giants. However, he has coached three other teams since then: the New England Patriots (whom he helped bring to Super Bowl XXXI) from 1993-1997, the New York Jets from 1997-1999, and the Dallas Cowboys since 2003.

This was the first Super Bowl to have zero turnovers.

For the first time, each player wore a Super Bowl logo patch on their jerseys. But this would not become a regular practice in Super Bowls until Super Bowl XXXII.

 The Super Bowl XXV logo was painted at midfield and the NFL logo was placed at each of the two 35-yard lines. For the past Super Bowl games since Super Bowl VI, the NFL logo was painted on the 50-yard line.

 The win by the Giants gave the NFC a 3-0 record in Super Bowls broadcasted on ABC (after the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XIX and the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XXII).

This is currently the only Super Bowl that has ended with a one-point margin of victory.

The Defensive game plan for the Giants (written by defensive coordinator Bill Belichick) has been included in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

 The Giants' triumph helped Belichick and wide receivers coach Tom Coughlin make their names and eventually land head-coaching jobs with the Cleveland Browns and Boston College, respectively. Currently, Belichick is head coach of the New England Patriots, while Coughlin is the head coach of the Giants.

This was the last Super Bowl to feature both kickers having one bar facemasks on their helmets

This Super Bowl was the inspiration for the Ray Finkle character in the 1994 movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and provided a critical plot point for the 1998 Vincent Gallo film Buffalo '66.

This was the final game for referee Jerry Seeman who would retire to become the league's Senior Director of Officiating, a position he held until 2001.

1991

The 1991 NFL season was the 72nd regular season of the National Football League. 

February 2 - New York businessman Robert Tisch purchased a 50 percent interest in the New York Giants from Mrs. Helen Mara Nugent and her children, Tim Mara and Maura Mara Concannon

February 27 - Commissioner Tagliabue named Neil Austrian to the newly created position of President of the NFL to be chief operating officer for League-wide business and financial operations

March 19 - NFL clubs voted to continue a limited system of Instant Replay for the sixth consecutive year. The vote was 21-7

March 23 - The NFL launched the World League of American Football, the first sports league to operate on a weekly basis on two separate continents

April 8 - Commissioner Tagliabue named Harold Henderson as Executive Vice President for Labor Relations and Chairman of the NFL Management Council Executive Committee

May 22 - NFL clubs approved a recommendation by the Expansion and Realignment Committee to add two teams for the 1994 season, resulting in six divisions of five teams each

May 23 - NFL clubs awarded Super Bowl XXIX, to be played on January 29, 1995, to Miami

July 17 - The NFL announced  that it would accept applications for expansion teams. Jacksonville submitted its proposal on October 17

"NFL International Week" featured six 1990 playoff teams playing nationally televised games in London, Berlin, and Tokyo on July 28 and August 3-4. The games drew more than 150,000 fans.

August 5 - Paul Brown, founder of the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, died at age 82

September 22 -  Don Shula records his 300th career victory with Miami's 16-13 win over Green Bay.

October 23 - NFL clubs approved a resolution establishing an international division, reporting to the President of the NFL. A three-year financial plan for the World League was approved by NFL clubs at a meeting in Dallas

December 1 - Miami quarterback Dan Marino sets an NFL record when he goes over 3,000 yards passing for the eighth time in his career in Miami's 33-14 win over Tampa Bay.

December 26 - Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach, Chuck Noll retired after compiling a 209-156-1 record in 23 seasons Noll was replaced by Bill Cowher.


The World League of American Football (WLAF) was founded in 1990 with support from the NFL to play semi-professional American Football in North America, Europe and later possibly Asia. This came after the NFL had played popular American Bowls in London's Wembley Stadium and elsewhere since 1986.

The WLAF played two seasons with 10 teams in the spring of 1991 and 1992, with the World Bowl as championship games. Rules unique to WLAF included assigning increasing point value to field goals based on distance, and a requirement that at least one player of non-US American nationality participate in at least every other series of downs.

The World League of American Football, allowed small TV cameras in the helmets of quarterbacks. A fisheye lens on a camera the size of a lipstick tube gives fans a greater sense of the speed, confusion and heavy hitting in a game. The camera is powered by a two-pound battery pack molded into the quarterback's shoulder pads.

The league also experiments with open microphones on coaches. But the idea backfires when viewers get a heavier dose of profanity than insightful gridiron strategy. The World League also revives coach-to-quarterback wireless communications.

Major rule changes

  • A drop kick, field goal, and punt can only be attempted from behind the line of scrimmage.

  • If a foul by a player causes an injury to an opponent, a team time out will not be charged to the penalized team anytime during the game instead of only during the last two minutes of a half.

  • The game clock will not start until the next snap following any change of possession, even if the player went out of bounds.

  • Officials will immediately blow the play dead when a defensive player is offsides before the snap and clearly rushes beyond the offensive line in such a way that he becomes an unabated threat to the quarterback.

  • A touchback will be ruled when a player fumbles the ball in the field of play and it goes out of bounds in the opponent's end zone.

  • A touchback, not a safety, will also be ruled when a player fumbles the ball in his own end zone and the opponent is the one that knocks the fumble out of bounds in the end zone.

  • An offensive player cannot deliberately bat a backward pass forward.

 

1991 PLAYOFFS

AFC

Wild-Card playoffs: KANSAS CITY 10, L.A. Raiders 6; HOUSTON 17, N.Y. Jets 10
Divisional playoffs: DENVER 26, Houston 24; BUFFALO 37, Kansas City 14
AFC Championship: BUFFALO 10, Denver 7

NFC

Wild-Card playoffs: Atlanta 27, NEW ORLEANS 20; Dallas 17, CHICAGO 13
Divisional playoffs: WASHINGTON 24, Atlanta 7; DETROIT 38, Dallas 6
NFC Championship: WASHINGTON 41, Detroit 10


Super Bowl XXVI

The season ended with Super Bowl XXVI when the Washington Redskins defeated the Buffalo Bills.

Super Bowl XXVI was the 26th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 26, 1992 before a sellout crowd of 63,130 at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota following the 1991 regular season.

The National Football Conference (NFC) champion
Washington Redskins
defeated
the American Football Conference (AFC) champion
Buffalo Bills,
3724.

Washington became the fourth team to win three Super Bowls, joining the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Oakland Raiders, and the San Francisco 49ers.

Washington quarterback Mark Rypien, who completed 18 of 33 passes for 292 yards and two touchdowns, with 1 interception, was named Super Bowl MVP. Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs became only the third head coach to win three Super Bowls.

The game was broadcast in the United States by CBS and featured the broadcast team of play-by-play announcer Pat Summerall and color commentator John Madden. Greg Gumbel hosted all the events with help from his fellow cast member from The NFL Today Terry Bradshaw. Also, history was made when CBS' Lesley Visser became the first female sportscaster to preside over the postgame Vince Lombardi Trophy presentation.

  Redskins linebacker Matt Millen was bidding to become the first player to play in a Super Bowl victory for three different franchises
(Millen played in Super Bowl XV and Super Bowl XVIII with the Raiders, and Super Bowl XXIV with the 49ers).
However, Millen was deactivated for the game and watched from the Redskins sideline.

  The 1989 television contract (which was in effect) gave CBS Super Bowl XXVI instead of Super Bowl XXXVII, which was in their rotation. The NFL swapped the CBS and NBC years in an effort to give CBS enough lead-in programming for the upcoming 1992 Winter Olympics two weeks later.

   This was only the fourth scoreless 1st quarter in Super Bowl history, after Super Bowl III, Super Bowl IX, Super Bowl XI.

   The Bills became the 8th team to go scoreless in the 1st half, after the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III; the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowls IV, VIII, IX, and XI; the Redskins in Super Bowl VII; and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XII.

 The Bills also became the third team to lose back-to-back Super Bowls, joining Minnesota (Super Bowls VIII and IX) and Denver (Super Bowls XXI and XXII).

   Gary Clark became just the 6th player to catch a touchdown in two different Super Bowls.

Gerald Riggs' became the 8th player to score two rushing touchdowns in a Super Bowl.

    This game marks the first time a touchdown was overruled by instant replay in a Super Bowl.

  The attendance mark of 63,130 was second lowest only to the first Super Bowl's attendance of 61,946, and the Metrodome was the smallest stadium to ever host the Super Bowl.

   This would be the last Super Bowl that CBS would televise for nine years.

   STS-42, a space shuttle mission, was in orbit during the game. A live downlink between the Metrodome and Discovery happened during the pregame show. Three of the mission's seven crew members demonstrated a 'human coin toss' in space.


1992

The 1992 NFL season was the 73rd regular season of the National Football League

January 25 - The NFL agreed to provide a minimum of $2.5 million in financial support to the NFL Alumni Association and assistance to NFL Alumni-related programs. The agreement included contributions from NFL Charities to the Pre-59ers and Dire Need Programs for former players

Bobby Ross, formerly of Georgia Tech, was hired as San Diego Chargers head coach.

Mike Holmgren became head coach of The Green Bay Packers

Tom Flores returned to coaching as the Seahawks head coach in 1992, but returned to the front office following three disappointing seasons.

Former NFL receiver Jerry Richardson hopes of landing an expansion franchise in Carolina survived as the NFL began to pare the list of expansion candidates.

May 11 - St. Louis businessman James Orthwein purchased controlling interest in the New England Patriots from Victor Kiam

March 18 - The use in officiating of a limited system of Instant Replay for a seventh consecutive year was not approved. The vote was 17-11 in favor of approval (21 votes were required)

Long game delays caused by referees using instant replay to review calls forces NFL owners to drop the referee tool.

May 19 - NFL clubs accepted the report of the Expansion Committee at a league meeting in Pasadena. The report names five cities as finalists for the two expansion teams-Baltimore, Charlotte, Jacksonville, Memphis, and St. Louis

Due to the damage caused by Hurricane Andrew, the New England Patriots - Miami Dolphins game, that was scheduled for September 6 at Joe Robbie Stadium, was rescheduled to October 18. Both teams originally had that weekend off.

September 17 - At a league meeting in Dallas, NFL clubs approved a proposal by the World League Board of Directors to restructure the World League and place future emphasis on its international success

October 4 - Miami's Louis Oliver returns an interception a record-tying 103 yards for a touchdown against Buffalo, tying the mark established by Vencie Glenn against Denver on Nov. 29, 1987.

October 12 - Washington wide receiver Art Monk becomes the NFL's all-time leading receiver when he makes his 820th career reception in a 34-3 victory over the Broncos.

October 18 - Miami quarterback Dan Marino throws four touchdown passes in the Dolphins' 38-17 win over New England, tying Johnny Unitas's record of 17 games with four-or-more touchdown passes.

Former Head Coach for the Oakland Raiders, Al Davis was inducted into The Hall of Fame.
Al Davis is the only person to have served pro football in such varied capacities as

(1) a player personnel assistant
(2) an assistant coach
(3) a head coach
(4) a general manager
(5) a league commissioner and (6) the principal owner and chief executive officer of an NFL team.

Major rule changes

  • The instant replay system that was in effect since the 1986 NFL season is repealed. Instant replay would not return to the league until the 1999 NFL season.

  • To reduce injuries, any offensive player who is lined up in the backfield before the snap cannot chop block a defensive player who is already engaged above the waist by another offensive player.

 

1992 PLAYOFFS

AFC

Wild-Card playoffs: SAN DIEGO 17, Kansas City 0;
 BUFFALO 41, Houston 38 (OT)
January 3 - Buffalo rallies from a 32-point third-quarter deficit to beat Houston 41-38 in overtime in an AFC Wild Card Playoff, the greatest comeback in NFL history. Bills quarterback Frank Reich throws four touchdown passes and kicker Steve Christie boots the game-winning 32-yard field goal.
Divisional playoffs: Buffalo 24, PITTSBURGH 3; MIAMI 31, San Diego 0
AFC Championship: Buffalo 29, MIAMI 10

NFC

Wild-Card playoffs: Washington 24, MINNESOTA 7; Philadelphia 36, NEW ORLEANS 20
Divisional playoffs: SAN FRANCISCO 20, Washington 13; DALLAS 34, Philadelphia 10
NFC Championship: Dallas 30, SAN FRANCISCO 20

Super Bowl XXVII

Super Bowl XXVII was the 27th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 31, 1993 before a crowd of 98,374 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California following the 1992 regular season.

The National Football Conference (NFC) champion
Dallas Cowboys 
defeated 
the American Football Conference (AFC) champion
Buffalo Bills,
5217.

The Cowboys won their third Super Bowl in team history, and their first one since Super Bowl XII on January 15, 1978. The Bills became the first team to lose three consecutive Super Bowls, and only the second ever to go to three in a row.

The Bills' Super Bowl record 9 turnovers - 4 interceptions and 5 lost fumbles - led to their third consecutive Super Bowl loss. The Cowboys lost 2 fumbles themselves, tying the Super Bowl record for the most turnovers by both teams in a game (the Cowboys and the Baltimore Colts also committed a combined 11 turnovers in Super Bowl V).

Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman was named Super Bowl MVP, completing 22 of 30 passes for 273 yards and 4 touchdowns, while also rushing for 28 yards.

Super Bowl XXVII was originally scheduled to be played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, the home of the Phoenix Cardinals.[1] Immediately after the Cardinals relocated from St. Louis, Missouri to the Phoenix, Arizona area in 1988, the NFL was eager to hold a Super Bowl in that state.

Meanwhile, Martin Luther King Day, the United States federal holiday honoring civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr., was observed for the first time in 1986. However, the holiday was only celebrated in 27 states and the District of Columbia during that first year. Opponents across the nation tried to stop the holiday from being recognized in their own local areas.

By 1991, every state had adopted Martin Luther King Day (though New Hampshire called it Civil Rights Day) except for Arizona.

The NFL, which had an increasing percentage of African American players, and urged by the NFL Players' Association, voted to yank Super Bowl XXVII from Arizona, and awarded it instead to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

Faced with the boycott, Arizona voters finally approved the holiday by ballot in 1992, and on March 23, 1993, the NFL awarded Super Bowl XXX (to be played January 1996) to Tempe.

Country music singer Garth Brooks sang the national anthem. He was accompanied by actress Marlee Matlin who signed the anthem for the hearing impaired.

Michael Jackson performed during the halftime show. Unlike in many previous years, he was the only performer in the entire halftime show. Jackson's set included his hits "Billie Jean" and "Black or White". The finale featured an audience card stunt and a choir of 3,500 local Los Angeles area children joining Jackson as he sang his single "Heal The World".

    The Bills became just the second team to reach three straight Super Bowls with this appearance. The Dolphins also did so, reaching Super Bowls VI through VIII (winning VII and VIII).

    The two teams combined for the most first quarter points in Super Bowl history with their 21.

The 21 points by the Cowboys is the most ever for a team in the 4th quarter.

The Cowboys also became just the second team to score two non-offensive touchdowns in a game. The Raiders also did so in Super Bowl XVIII with a block punt return and interception return.

The two teams combined for a then Super Bowl record 69 total points.

Michael Irvin's two touchdown receptions made him the 7th player to do so in a Super Bowl. Irvin also became the second player, after Washington Redskins wide receiver Ricky Sanders in Super Bowl XXII, to catch two touchdowns in a single quarter. Furthermore, Irvin's two catches occurred in a span of 18 seconds, the fastest pair of touchdowns ever scored by a single player in Super Bowl history.

With his touchdown catch, Don Beebe became the 5th player with a touchdown catch in back-to-back Super Bowls.

This was the last of five Super Bowls at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Two other Super Bowls were played nearby at the Los Angeles Coliseum. This would be the 7th Super Bowl in the Los Angeles area, tying New Orleans at the time for the city to host the most Super Bowls.

This marked first time since the AFL-NFL merger that the two Super Bowl teams each won their conference championship game on the road. Dallas winning in San Francisco and Buffalo in Miami.

 Baseball's, San Diego Padres relief pitcher Trevor Hoffman proposed to his wife (a Bills cheerleader) during this game.


1993

The 1993 NFL season was the 74th regular season of the National Football League. 

For the only time during the league's history, all NFL teams played their 16-game schedule over a span of 18 weeks. After the success of expanding the regular season to a period of 17 weeks in 1990, the league hoped this new schedule would generate even more revenue. However, teams felt that having two weeks off during the regular season was too disruptive for their weekly routines, and thus it was reverted back to 17 weeks immediately after the season ended.

Following the 1992 season, the Cicago Bears fired Head Coach, Mike Ditka.
Daley proposed further renovations, including installation of a jumbo video scoreboard, in 1992. In exchange, the team would need to sign a lease extension. The proposed renovations were pulled off the table by Daley after the firing of Mike Ditka on January 5,

January 6 - The NFL and lawyers for the players announced a settlement of various lawsuits and an agreement on the terms of a seven-year deal that included a new player system to be in place through the 1999 season

January 14 - Commissioner Tagliabue announced the establishment of the "NFL World Partnership Program" to develop amateur football internationally through a series of clinics conducted by former NFL players and coaches

January 25 - As part of Super Bowl XXVII, the NFL announced the creation of the first NFL Youth Education Town, a facility located in south central Los Angeles for inner city youth

March 23 - NFL clubs awarded Super Bowl XXX to the city of Phoenix, to be played on January 28, 1996, at Sun Devil Stadium

NFL owners voted to award Super Bowl XXVIII to Atlanta, Georgia, during their May 23, 1990, meeting.

June 29 - The NFL and the NFL Players Association officially signed a 7-year Collective Bargaining Agreement in Washington, D.C., which guarantees more than $1 billion in pension, health, and post-career benefits for current and retired players-the most extensive benefits plan in pro sports. It was the NFL's first CBA since the 1982 agreement expired in 1987

September 19 - San Diego's John Carney boots six field goals in an 18-17 win over Houston -- the second time he accomplished the feat in three weeks -- and sets a new NFL record with 29 consecutive field goals made.

 October 12 - NFL announced plans to allow fans, for the first time ever, to join players and coaches in selecting the annual AFC and NFC Pro Bowl teams


October 26 - The Carolina Panthers are awarded the 29th NFL franchise to begin play in 1995.
The first coach was Dom Capers, who had been the defensive coordinator for Pittsburgh Steelers.
The number of rounds in the draft was reduced to eight rounds in 1993 and then the current seven rounds one year later.
 NFL clubs also awarded Super Bowl XXXI to New Orleans and Super Bowl XXXII to San Diego, October 26.

After a two-year hiatus, former New York Giant's Bill Parcells returned to the NFL and was hired as New England Patriots head coach.
The team lost 10 of its first 11 games that season

 November 14 - when the Dolphins defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 19-14, Shula won his 325th career game, moving him one victory past the immortal George Halas (324-151-31) and setting an NFL record for most career victories, a mark once thought to be unreachable.

November 30 - NFL clubs awarded the league's thirtieth franchise to the Jacksonville Jaguars at a meeting in Chicago

December 20 - TheNFL announced new 4-year television agreements with ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NFL newcomer FOX, which took over the NFC package from CBS, December 18.
The NFL completed its new TV agreements by announcing that NBC would retain the rights to the AFC package

Quarterback Joe Montana signed with the Kansas City Chiefs after winning 3 Super Bowl awards with the San Francisco 49ers

Major rule changes

  • The Play Clock (the time limit the offensive team has to snap the ball between plays) has been reduced from 45 seconds to 40 seconds (the time interval after time outs and other administrative stoppages remains the same at 25 seconds).

  • Ineligible receiver down field prior to a forward pass foul is added.

 

1993 PLAYOFFS

AFC

Wild-Card playoffs: KANSAS CITY 27, Pittsburgh 24 (OT); L.A. RAIDERS 42, Denver 24
Divisional playoffs: BUFFALO 29, L.A. Raiders 23; Kansas City 28, HOUSTON 20
AFC Championship: BUFFALO 30, Kansas City 13

NFC

Wild-Card playoffs: Green Bay 28, DETROIT 24; N.Y. GIANTS 17, Minnesota 10
Divisional playoffs: SAN FRANCISCO 44, N.Y. Giants 3; DALLAS 27, Green Bay 17
NFC Championship: DALLAS 38, San Francisco 21

Super Bowl XXVIII

Super Bowl XXVIII was the 28th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 30, 1994, at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia, following the 1993 regular season.

The National Football Conference (NFC) champion
Dallas Cowboys 
defeated
the American Football Conference (AFC) champion
 Buffalo Bills,
3013.

This was the first time in Super Bowl history that the same two teams met in two consecutive years. The Cowboys won their fourth Super Bowl in team history, tying the Pittsburgh Steelers and the San Francisco 49ers. The Bills became the first team to both appear in and lose 4 consecutive Super Bowls.

Singer Natalie Cole, accompanied by the Atlanta University Center Chorus, sang the national anthem.

   Ironically, two weeks before the game was aired, NBC had shown a Peanuts special, You're In the Super Bowl, Charlie Brown in which the character Melody-Melody wins the Punt, Pass & Kick contest wearing a Dallas Cowboys uniform.

This was the fourth rematch in Super Bowl history. The Dolphins and Redskins met twice (VII and XVII), the Steelers and Cowboys (X and XIII) and 49ers and Bengals (XVI and XXIII). The Steelers and the Cowboys would also meet again, in Super Bowl XXX.

 Kelly became the only player ever to throw 50 passes in 2 Super Bowls. In addition to his 50 passes in this game, he threw a Super Bowl record 58 passes in Super Bowl XXVI.

 The Bills joined Minnesota and Denver as the only teams to lose 4 Super Bowls.

 Buffalo Bills, Thurman Thomas became the first player in Super Bowl history to score touchdowns in four Super Bowls. He scored one in each of the Bills appearances, Super Bowls XXV through XXVIII.

This was the first Super Bowl ever to feature 2 punts that were downed on the opponent's 1-yard line at the end of 2 consecutive drives.

 

Dallas Cowboys, Emmitt Smith became just the second player in Super Bowl history to run for 100 yards in back-to-back Super Bowls.
The other being Dolphins, Larry Czonka who did it in Super Bowls VII and VIII. He became the fourth player to rush for touchdowns in back-to-back Super Bowls, joining Hall of Famer, best known for his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Franco Harris, Redskins, John Riggins and Thomas.

   Smith also became the first player to lead the league in rushing yards, win NFL Most Valuable Player Award, and win Super Bowl MVP all in the same season. He was also the fourth player, after Green Bay Packers Bart Starr (1966), Pittsburgh Steelers, Terry Bradshaw (1978), and 49ers, Joe Montana (1989), to win both the NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP during the same season.
Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith was named the Super Bowl MVP, with 30 carries for 132 yards and 2 touchdowns, while also catching 4 passes for 26 yards.


1994

January 30, 1994
The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills 30-13 in Super Bowl XXVIII to become the fifth team to win back-to-back Super Bowl titles ending the 1993 season

The 1994 NFL season was the 75th regular season of the National Football League.
To honor the NFL's 75th season, a special anniversary logo was designed and each player wore a patch on their jerseys with this logo throughout the season.

 

Phoenix Cardinals became Arizona Cardinals
The Phoenix Cardinals changed their name to Arizona Cardinals in an attempt to widen their appeal to the entire state of Arizona instead of just the Phoenix area.

The Seattle Seahawks played their first three regular season home games at Husky Stadium because the Kingdome, the Seahawks' regular home field, was undergoing repairs for damaged tiles on its roof.

 

February 21 - former head coach for the New York Giants, Tom Coughlin was hired as head coach for Jacksonville Jaguars

March 22 - In an effort to increase offensive production, NFL clubs at the league's annual meeting in Orlando adopted a package of changes, including modifications in line play, chucking rules, and the roughing-the-passer rule, plus the adoption of the two-point conversion and moving the spot of the kickoff back to the 30-yard line

The NFL adapted the two-point conversion following touchdowns. Before teams could only go for the point after touchdown, worth one point.

June 1 - The NFL launched "NFL Sunday Ticket," a new season subscription service for satellite television dish owners

September 5 - San Francisco wide receiver Jerry Rice catches two touchdown passes and runs for another score in a 44-14 victory over the Raiders to surpass Jim Brown as the NFL's career touchdowns leader with 127.

October 23 - Mel Gray passes Ron Smith to become the all-time NFL leader in kickoff return yards. Gray finishes his career with 10,250 yards.

November 2 - At an NFL meeting in Chicago, Commissioner Tagliabue slotted the two new expansion teams into the AFC Central (Jacksonville Jaguars) and NFC West (Carolina Panthers) for the 1995 season only. He also appointed a special committee on realignment to make recommendations on the 1996 season and beyond

November 13 - New England quarterback Drew Bledsoe completes an NFL record 45 passes in a 26-20 overtime victory over Minnesota.

November 14 - Jeff Fisher was named Houston Oilers (to be known as today's Tennessee Titans) Head Coach, replacing Jack Pardee

Tom Flores resigned from the Seahawks in 1994 following Paul Allen's purchase of the Seahawks.

Barry Switzer replaced Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson, who left after clashing with new owner Jerry Jones.

Former Minnesota Vikings coach Bud Grant was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame

O.J., Simpson, "The Juice", although considered to be one of the greatest running backs of all time, is now best known for being charged with the murder of his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in 1994. He was acquitted in criminal court in 1995 after a lengthy, highly publicized and controversial trial, but was found liable and responsible for their deaths in civil court in 1997.

October 23On October 29 1950,  Detroit Lion's Wally Trippett established an NFL record with 294 kickoff return yards against Los Angeles.
The record has since been broken by Tyrone Hughes but Trippett's average of 73.5 yards per return still stands.
304 yards by Tyrone Hughes, New Orleans vs. L.A. Rams

Major rule changes

    A package of changes were adopted to increase offensive production and scoring:

  • The two-point conversion after touchdowns is adopted. (teams now have the option of passing or running for two points or kicking for one after a TD).

  • The spot of the kickoff is moved from the 35-yard line to the 30-yard line.

  • Kickoff tees used can be no more than one inch in height (previously 3 inches).

  • The "Neutral zone infraction" foul is adopted. A play is automatically dead before the snap when a defensive player enters the neutral zone and causes an offensive player to react.

(officials are to immediately blow their whistles whenever a defender enters the neutral zone causing the offensive player(s) directly opposite to move, this is considered a penalty on the defense. If there is no immediate reactional movement by the offensive player(s), there is no foul. (The neutral zone is defined as the space the length of the ball between the offense and defense line of scrimmage).

  • After a field goal is missed beyond the 20-yard line, the defensive team takes possession of the ball at the spot of the kick instead of the previous line of scrimmage.

  • During field goal attempts and extra point tries, players on the receiving team cannot block below the waist.

The 11 players on the receiving team are prohibited from blocking below the waist during a play in which there is a kickoff, safety kick, punt, field goal attempt or extra point kick with one exception, immediately at the snap on these plays those defenders on the line of scrimmage lined up on or inside the normal tight end position can block low.

 

1994 PLAYOFFS

AFC

Wild-Card playoffs: MIAMI 27, Kansas City 17; CLEVELAND 20, New England 13
Divisional playoffs: PITTSBURGH 29, Cleveland 9; SAN DIEGO 22, Miami 21
AFC Championship: San Diego 17, PITTSBURGH 13

NFC

Wild-Card playoffs: GREEN BAY 16, Detroit 12; Chicago 35, MINNESOTA 18
Divisional playoffs: SAN FRANCISCO 44, Chicago 15; DALLAS 35, Green Bay 9
NFC Championship: SAN FRANCISCO 38, Dallas 28


Super Bowl XXIX

Super Bowl XXIX was the 29th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL). The game was played on January 29, 1995 at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami, Florida (now part of the suburb of Miami Gardens) following the 1994 regular season

The National Football Conference (NFC) champion
San Francisco 49ers 
defeated
 the American Football Conference (AFC) champion
San Diego Chargers,
4926.

The combined aggregate score of 75 remains a Super Bowl record. The 49ers became the first team to win five Super Bowls while the Chargers were making their first Super Bowl appearance.

The pregame show held before the game featured country music singer Hank Williams, Jr., who performed his theme song for Monday Night Football, which was based on his single
 "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight".

Actress and singer Kathie Lee Gifford (Frank Gifford's wife) later sang the national anthem. She was accompanied by then-Miss America Heather Whitestone who signed the anthem for the hearing impaired.

 Steve Young of  The San Francisco 49ers became the first player to finish a Super Bowl as the game's leader in both passing and rushing yards.
Young threw a record 6 touchdown passes en route to the Super Bowl MVP award. He also completed 24 out of 36 passes for 325 yards, and was the top rusher of the game with 49 rushing yards. This game is regarded as Young's final leap out of the shadow of his predecessor, Joe Montana, who had won four Super Bowls with the 49ers, two with Young as the backup quarterback.

  The 49er's spectacular performance led to their offensive coordinator, Mike Shanahan, and defensive coordinator, Ray Rhodes, gaining head coaching jobs the very next season for the Denver Broncos and the Philadelphia Eagles, respectively.

The 18½ point spread was the largest Super Bowl line (as of 2006), exceeding the 18 point spread in which the Baltimore Colts were favored over the New York Jets in Super Bowl III.

    * This was the first Super Bowl to have two players each score three touchdowns. Rice matched his Super Bowl XXIV performance with his 3 touchdown catches. Watters also had three touchdowns, matching Roger Craig's 3 touchdowns, 2 receiving and 1 rushing, that Craig accomplished in Super Bowl XIX. Watters also became the 2nd running back to catch 2 touchdown passes in a game, matching Craig.

The 49ers became the second team to take the opening kickoff and score a touchdown on that first drive. The first being the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VIII.

   Rice became the first player to catch at least two touchdowns in two different Super Bowls.

This was the 49ers third Super Bowl in which they scored four touchdowns in the first half. They had halftime scores of 28-16 against the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX and 27-3 on the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV.

Along with his record six touchdown passes for a game, Steve Young matched Washington Redskins quarterback Doug Williams as the only players to throw four in a half. Williams did so in the first half of Super Bowl XXII.

The 49ers' 304 yards of offense in the first half was the second most in Super Bowl history after Washington's 419 in Super Bowl XXII.

Andre Coleman matched Fulton Walker's 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. In the second Super Bowl played at Joe Robbie Stadium, it was the second to have a kickoff returned for a touchdown. The other was Stanford Jennings for the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl XXIII.

Ken Norton, Jr. became the first player in to win three straight Super Bowls. Norton was a member of the Cowboys teams who won Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII.

Steve Young became the 5th player to win both the NFL Most Valuable Player Award and Super Bowl MVP during the same season. He follows Bart Starr in 1966, Terry Bradshaw in 1978, Joe Montana in 1989, and Emmitt Smith in 1993.

This is the first Super Bowl to have two successful two-point conversions.

This is the second (and most recent) Super Bowl to feature two teams from the same state.

This marked the first Super Bowl since Super Bowl XIV where both teams used the 4-3 as their base defensive formation. The 3-4 was the base formation for most NFL teams throughout the 1980s and the Buffalo Bills during their streak of four consecutive Super Bowls in the early 1990s.

This was the 7th Super Bowl to be played in Miami, at the time tying both New Orleans, Louisiana and the Greater Los Angeles area for hosting the Super Bowl the most times.

   Jerry Markbreit would become the first referee to officiate in four Super Bowls.


1995

The 1995 NFL season was the 76th regular season of the National Football League.

Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars began play
The league expanded to 30 teams with the addition of the Carolina Panthers and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The two expansion teams were slotted into the two remaining divisions that had only four teams (while the other four had five teams): the AFC Central (Jaguars) and the NFC West (Panthers).

January 29 - San Francisco defeats San Diego 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIX to end the 1994 season.

January 31 - Mike Shanahan took over as Denver Broncos Head Coach 

Miami Dolphins Head Coach, Don Shula, retired after 26 seasons and was replaced by Jimmy Johnson, former coach of The University of Miami and the Dallas Cowboys

February 16 - The 2 new expansion teams, Carolina and Jacksonville stocked their expansion rosters with a total of 66 players from other NFL teams in a veteran player allocation draft in New York.

April 10 - The NFL became the first major sports league to establish a site on the Internet system of on-line computer communication.

April 12 -.Los Angeles Rams became St Louis Rams
The Los Angeles Rams moved to St. Louis  bringing NFL football back to St. Louis after eight- year absence  (Prior Team - St Louis Cardinals)

April 21 - The Jacksonville Jaguars made their first trade acquiring quarterback Mark Brunell from the Green Bay Packers for 2 draft picks.
Offensive tackle Tony Boselli of Southern California was the Jaguars first draft pick.

March 14 - A series of safety-related rules changes were adopted at a league meeting in Phoenix, primarily related to the use of the helmet against defenseless players.

July 22 - The Los Angeles Raiders move back to Oakland
as The Los Angeles Raiders became Oakland Raiders
In 1982, Davis moved the team from Oakland to Los Angeles, California and the club became known as the Los Angeles Raiders, but they moved back to Oakland in 1995 being the only sports franchise to move and then come back without making an expansion team.

September 15 - NFL Charities and 50 NFL players donated $1 million to the United Negro College Fund in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the UNCF and the integration of the modern NFL

October 1 - The Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Houston Oilers 17-16 for the franchise's first victory

November 5 - The Carolina Panthers win an expansion record fourth game in a row, defeating the San Francisco 49ers 13-7 at 3Com Park. It is the first time in league history that an expansion team defeats the defending world champion.

November 6 - Art Modell announces that he is moving the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore for the 1996 season.

November 12 - The Trans World Dome opened in St. Louis before a sold-out crowd of 65,598 as the Rams the Carolina Panthers 28-17, .

November 12 - Miami quarterback Dan Marino passes Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton (47,003 yards) in four major passing categories-attempts, completions, yards, and touchdowns to become the NFL's all-time passing yards leader on a 9-yard toss to Irving Fryar in the Dolphins' 34-17 loss to New England. Marino finishes his career with 61,361 yards passing.

November 30 - The Jacksonville Jaguars are awarded an NFL franchise in 1993 to begin play in 1995

The Bears organization, led by McCaskey announced that the team planned on beginning the 2000 season in a new stadium at any cost. "If time slips away on this, we'll have to consider other alternatives," McCaskey said as he imposed a deadline at the end of 1995 to come to resolution on the issue. The team president didn't wait long to make his first announcement. Early that year, the Bears purchased options on land in suburban Hoffman Estates and Aurora, and proposed that a $285 million open-air stadium be constructed. That figure would require $185 million in public funds; the issue would never be brought to the legislature for a vote.

In a more striking development, McCaskey announced in September of that year that he and a group of Northwest Indiana developers had come to an agreement to build an entertainment complex called "Planet Park," which would include a new Bears stadium, in Gary, IN. A month later, Daley responded to the Bears with an offer to spend $156 million to completely renovate Soldier Field. The construction would be completed during the offseason in 1998, would drop the field 18 feet and create an upper deck, add skyboxes, a scoreboard and an exclusive restaurant. While McCaskey called the proposal a "more thorough plan than we expected," he also stated that he "didn't think renovating Soldier Field will be the answer."

On the field, many significant records and milestones were achieved:

Major rule changes

  • A eligible receiver forced out of bounds by a defensive player may return to the field and automatically become eligible to legally be the first player to touch a forward pass.

  • Quarterbacks may now receive communications from the bench from a small radio transmitter in their helmets. (This proposal was originally run on a test basis last year during the preseason, but was scrapped)

  • The emergency (third) quarterback may now enter the game in just the fourth quarter, regardless if the other two quarterbacks are able to play. This means that if the third string quarterback enters the game, the first and/or second quarterback may re-enter, unlike the past two seasons where the emergency quarterback would only play off the first two were unable to resume play.

1995 PLAYOFFS

AFC

Wild-Card playoffs: BUFFALO 37, Miami 22; Indianapolis 35, SAN DIEGO 20
Divisional playoffs: PITTSBURGH 40, Buffalo 21; Indianapolis 10, KANSAS CITY 7
AFC Championship: PITTSBURGH 20, Indianapolis 16

NFC

Wild-Card playoffs: PHILADELPHIA 58, Detroit 37; GREEN BAY 37, Atlanta 20
Divisional playoffs: Green Bay 27, SAN FRANCISCO 17; DALLAS 30, Philadelphia 11
NFC Championship: DALLAS 38, Green Bay 27


Super Bowl XXX

Super Bowl XXX was the 30th Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL).

The game was played on January 28, 1996 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona following the 1995 regular season.


The National Football Conference (NFC) champion
Dallas Cowboys 
defeated
the American Football Conference (AFC) champion
.Pittsburgh Steelers,
27–17

NFL owners voted to award Super Bowl XXX to Tempe, Arizona during their March 23, 1993 meeting. Super Bowl XXVII was originally chosen to be held in Tempe. But the NFL yanked the game away from Arizona after the league joined a massive, nationwide tourist boycott by various groups to protest the state's refusal to recognize Martin Luther King Day. After Arizona finally adopted the federal holiday in 1992, the NFL started to consider Tempe again.

Actress and singer Vanessa Williams later sang the national anthem.

Diana Ross performed during the halftime show, titled "Take Me Higher: A Celebration of 30 years of the Super Bowl". The show featured a number of her songs along with pyrotechnics, special effects and stadium card stunts. The show ended with Ross singing "Take Me Higher" from her 1995 album of the same name, and then she was taken from the field in a helicopter.

Some weeks before Super Bowl XXX, it was found that some proxy servers were blocking the web site for the event. The reason: The game's Roman numeral (XXX) is usually associated with pornography.

This was the first time two teams have met three times in a Super Bowl. The Cowboys and Steelers previously met for Super Bowls X and XIII with Pittsburgh winning both of them.

This was the Cowboys 8th appearance in the Super Bowl, the most of any franchise.

Dallas Cowboys, Charles Haley became the first player to win 5 Super Bowls after winning two with San Francisco (XXIII and XXIV) and two previously with Dallas (XXVII and XXVIII).

Dallas Cowboys, Troy Aikman became just the third quarterback to win three Super Bowls. Pittsburgh Steelers, Terry Bradshaw and  San Francisco 49ers, Joe Montana each won four Super Bowls.

Dallas Cowboys, Emmitt Smith became just the fifth player to score a touchdown in three different Super Bowls. He joined
Pittsburgh Steelers, Lynn Swann and Franco Harris,
 Buffalo Bills, Thurman Thomas
and Jerry Rice. 
Emmitt also became the first player to rush for two touchdowns in two different Super Bowls. He also scored two in Super Bowl XXVIII.

 Dallas Cowboys, Larry Brown became the first cornerback to be named Super Bowl MVP, and the second defensive back after Miami Dolphins, Jake Scott in Super Bowl VII to win the award.

This was the first Super Bowl in which the Vince Lombardi Trophy was given to the owner of the winning team in an on-field ceremony after the game, a practice which has been followed ever since.


1996

The 1996 NFL season was the 77th regular season of the National Football League

January 6 - Don Shula steps down as head coach of the Miami Dolphins after his team losses to Buffalo in the playoffs. The most winning coach in NFL history resigns with 347 wins.

January 22 - Former Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Tony Dungy was hired as head  coach for The Tampa Bay Buccaneers replacing Sam Wyche.
The Buccaneers had a run of success With Tony Dungy as head coach. Dungy put together an exceptionally tough defense (Tampa 2) but he and his staff could never match that success on offense.

January 28 - Dallas becomes the first team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in a four year period by defeating Pittsburgh 27-17 in Super Bowl XXX ending the 1995 season.

Jim Mora (the elder) resigned from the Saints midway through the 1996 season (8 games into the season) after 10 1/2 years as by far the most successful coach in the team's 38-season history.
Mora resigned  after a profanity-laced post-game interview where the Saints were beaten 19-7 @ Carolina Panthers. Mora was replaced by Rick Venturi.

Mora's post-game press conference

"The second half, we just got our ass totally kicked! We couldn’t do diddley poo offensively! We couldn’t make a first down. We couldn’t run the ball. We didn’t try to run the ball! We couldn’t complete a pass. We sucked! The second half, we sucked! We couldn't stop the run. Everytime they got the ball, they went down, and got points! We got our ass totally kicked in the second half. That's what it boiled down to. It was a horseshit performance in the second half! Horseshit! I’m totally embarrassed. I’m totally ashamed. Coaching did a horrible job! The players did a horrible job! We got our ass kicked in that second half! It sucked. It stunk."

The Bears',  McCaskey, missed his self-imposed deadline at the end of 1995 for having a new stadium plan in place for Chicago. In December he dismissed Daley's stadium proposal, asked Edgar to reconsider the McDome plan, and kept the Gary site as his trump card. Speaking of the Gary plan, the developers had asked the team to sign a letter of intent on the deal by mid-February 1996 prior to them placing a Lake County, IN tax increase on that year's ballot.
 February 2 - the Lake County Council rejected the plan, and "Planet Park" was dead.


February 9 - Cleveland Browns disbanded (temporarily) and
Baltimore Ravens began play
Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell, frustrated by his inability to get a new stadium in Cleveland, began shopping The Browns. Modell closed a deal to move them to Baltimore as the Baltimore Ravens (however, the city of Cleveland retains the rights to the Browns name, logo, team colors and memorabilia rights while the Ravens would start from scratch)
 The NFL returns to Baltimore after a 12 year absence that was created when owner Robert Irsay loaded The Baltimore Colts up in Mayflower Moving Trucks and moved them to Indianapolis, Indiana in 1984.
See Indianapolis Colts History

The NFL agreed to assign Cleveland an expansion franchise in 1999 that would inherit the history of The Browns

April 30 - The transfer of the Oilers from Houston to Nashville for the 1998 season was approved by a vote of the NFL clubs at a meeting in Atlanta,
The Houston Oilers, an original member of the American Football League, packed up and headed for Nashville after the 1996 season. That left Houston without a pro team the first time since 1959.

October 20 - Jacksonville wide receiver Keenan McCardell catches 16 passes, tied for the third highest total in NFL history, in the Jaguars' 17-14 loss at St. Louis.

December 6 - Former NFLCommissioner Pete Rozelle died at his home in Rancho Santa Fe, California. Rozelle, regarded as the premiere commissioner in sports history, led the NFL for 29 years, from 1960-1989

The NFL adopts wireless communication that lets coaches talk at their quarterbacks. Transmission gets cut off 15 seconds before a play begins. Only quarterbacks can wear helmets equipped with an electronic receiver.

Major rule changes

The five-yard contact rule will be enforced more stringently.

In order to reduce injuries, hits with the helmet or to the head by the defender will be flagged as personal fouls and subject to fines. This is being done to protect the offense, particularly the quarterback.

1996 PLAYOFFS

One of the most memorable aspects of the 1996 season was that the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars, each in only its second year of existence, both advanced to their respective conference championship games.

AFC

Wild-Card playoffs: Jacksonville 30, BUFFALO 27;
PITTSBURGH 42, Indianapolis 14
Divisional playoffs: Jacksonville 30, DENVER 27; NEW ENGLAND 28, Pittsburgh 3
AFC Championship: NEW ENGLAND 20, Jacksonville 6

NFC

Wild-Card playoffs: DALLAS 40, Minnesota 15; SAN FRANCISCO 14, Philadelphia 0
Divisional playoffs: GREEN BAY 35, San Francisco 14; CAROLINA 26, Dallas 17
NFC Championship: GREEN BAY 30, Carolina 13


1996
Super Bowl XXXI

Super Bowl XXXI was the 31st Super Bowl, the championship game of the National Football League (NFL).
 The game was played on January 26, 1997 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana following the 1996 regular season.

The National Football Conference (NFC) champion
Green Bay Packers
defeated
the American Football Conference (AFC) champion
New England Patriots,
35–21.

 This was the Packers third overall Super Bowl victory, and their first one since Super Bowl II. The Packers also extended the league record for the most overall NFL championships to 12.

To honor the recent death of former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, who died on December 6, 1996, each player wore a special helmet decal with Rozelle's signature, "Pete," printed across the NFL logo. Tributes to Rozelle were also published in the game program.

The game was the first Super Bowl to be televised in the United States by the FOX network. Play-by-play announcer Pat Summerall and color commentator John Madden, both previously of CBS, called the game. James Brown hosted all the events with help from his fellow FOX NFL Sunday cast members Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Ronnie Lott.

R&B singer Luther Vandross sang the national anthem.

The halftime show was titled "Blues Brothers Bash" and featured actors Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman, and James Belushi as the Blues Brothers. The show highlighted blues music and also had performances by the rock band ZZ Top and singer James Brown, nicknamed "The Godfather of Soul".

While practicing for the show, Laura Patterson, one of a 16-member professional bungee jumping team, died of massive cranial trauma when she jumped from the top level of the Superdome with improperly handled bungee cords and smashed head-first into the concrete-based playing field. The bungee jumping portion of the show was removed from the program and a commemoration of Patterson was added.

In terms of sports betting, this was the first push in Super Bowl history. The Packers were favored by 14 and won the game by 14.

The 24 combined 1st quarter points were the most in Super Bowl history. The previous best was 21 in Super Bowls XXVII and XXIX.


Desmond Howard of The Green Bay Packers would become the 4th Heisman Trophy winner to be named Super Bowl MVP. He is also the only special teams player to win the award.
He ran for 154 kickoff return yards, and scored the game-clinching touchdown on a Super Bowl record 99-yard kickoff return, the first such touchdown accomplished by a Super Bowl winning team. The previous three such touchdowns had all been accomplished by the losing team.
. Howard also recorded a Super Bowl record 90 punt return yards, thus tying the Super Bowl records of total return yards (244) and combined net yards gained (244).

Starting with this game, through Super Bowl XXXVII, the Super Bowl logo was painted at the 50-yard line, and the teams helmets were placed on the 30-yard lines. During the past Super Bowl games since the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger (Super Bowl VI), the NFL logo was painted on the 50-yard line, except for Super Bowls XXV and XXIX. The Super Bowl XXV logo was painted at midfield, and the NFL 75th Anniversary logo was painted at midfield in Super Bowl XXIX.
The league started to put the NFL logo at midfield again for Super Bowl XXXVIII.


1997

The 1997 NFL season was the 78th regular season of the National Football League. 

January 14 - Indianapolis Colts owner Robert Irsay died from complications related to a stroke he suffered in 1995. Irsay acquired the club in 1972 when he traded his Los Angeles Rams to Carrol Rosenbloom for the Colts. He later moved the Colts from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1984, .
See Indianapolis Colts History

April 6 - Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke died at his home in Washington, D.C. Cooke became majority owner in 1974 and the Redskins won three Super Bowls under his leadership,

October 26 - Atlanta Falcons owner Rankin Smith died of heart failure three days prior to his seventy-third birthday. Smith was the founder of the Falcons and was instrumental in bringing Super Bowls XXVIII and XXXIV to Atlanta

Due to Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, the Chicago Bears - Miami Dolphins game at Pro Player Stadium was moved back one day to Monday, October 27.

November 9 - Denver cornerback Darrien Gordon ties an NFL record by returning two punts for touchdowns in the same quarter, a feat previously accomplished just twice in NFL history. His scoring returns of 82 and 75 yards in the first quarter gave Denver a 14-0 lead en route to a 34-0 defeat of Carolina.

Houston Oilers became Tennessee Oilers
The Houston Oilers move to Memphis and become the Tennessee Oilers
 (later to be known as Tennessee Titans)

The Oilers relocated from Houston, Texas to Nashville, Tennessee and become the Tennessee Oilers
 (later to be known as Tennessee Titans) .
But the newly-renamed Tennessee Oilers played their home games during this season at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee while a new stadium in Nashville began construction.

After being fired following the 1992 season by The Bears, Mike Ditka returned to The NFL to coach the New Orleans Saints, which he refers to as the "three worst years" of his life.


December 4 - Cincinnati running back Corey Dillon rushes for a rookie record 246 yards in a 41-14 victory over Tennessee.

December 21 - Detroit Lions, Barry Sanders becomes only the third player in league history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season. He rushes for 184 yards in the final game of the regular season to push his 1997 total to 2,053 yards, the second highest seasonal tally i