Chronology of Football 1971-1980
1971 | 1972 | 1973
| 1974 | 1975 | 1976
| 1977 | 1978 | 1979
Baltimore defeated Dallas 16-13 on Jim O'Brien's 32-yard field goal
with five seconds to go in Super Bowl V at Miami, January 17. The
NBC tele-cast was viewed in an estimated 23,980,000 homes, the largest
audience ever for a one-day sports event.
The NFC defeated the AFC 27-6 in the first AFC-NFC Pro Bowl at Los
Angeles, January 24.
The Boston Patriots changed their name
to the New England Patriots, March 25. Their new stadium, Schaefer
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.
Daniel F. Reeves, the president and general
manager of the Rams, died at 58, April 15.
The Dallas Cowboys moved from the Cotton Bowl
into their new home, Texas Stadium, October 24.
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.
Dallas defeated Miami 24-3 in Super Bowl VI at New Orleans, January
16. The CBS telecast was viewed in an estimated 27,450,000 homes,
the top-rated one-day telecast ever.
The inbounds lines or hashmarks were moved
nearer the center of the field, 23 yards, 1 foot, 9 inches from
the sidelines, March 23. The method of determining won-lost percentage
in standings changed. Tie games, previously not counted in the standings,
were made equal to a half-game won and a half-game lost, May 24.
Robert Irsay purchased the Los Angeles Rams
and transferred ownership of the club to Carroll Rosen-bloom in
exchange for the Baltimore Colts, July 13.
William V. Bidwill purchased the stock of
his brother Charles (Stormy) Bidwill to become the sole owner of
the St. Louis Cardinals, September 2.
The National District Attorneys Association
endorsed the position of professional leagues in opposing proposed
legalization of gambling on professional team sports, September
Franco Harris's "Immaculate Reception" gave
the Steelers their first postseason win ever, 13-7 over the Raiders,
Rozelle announced that all Super Bowl VII tickets were sold and
that the game would be telecast in Los Angeles, the site of the
game, on an experimental basis, January 3.
Miami defeated Washington 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. The
NBC telecast was viewed by approximately 75 million people.
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.
A jersey numbering system was adopted, April
5: 1-19 for quarterbacks and specialists, 20-49 for running backs
and defensive backs, 50-59 for centers and linebackers, 60-79 for
defensive linemen and interior offensive linemen other than centers,
and 80-89 for wide receivers and tight ends. Players who had been
in the NFL in 1972 could continue to use old numbers.
NFL Charities, a nonprofit organi-zation,
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 pro- vided for an annual
review to be made by the Federal Communications Commission.
The Buffalo Bills moved their home games from
War Memorial Stadium to Rich Stadium in nearby Orchard Park. The
Giants tied the Eagles 23-23 in the final game in Yankee Stadium,
September 23. The Giants played the rest of their home games at
the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut.
A rival league, the World Football League,
was formed and was reported in operation, October 2. It had plans
to start play in 1974.
O.J. Simpson of Buffalo became the first player
to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season, gaining 2,003.
Miami defeated Minnesota 24-7 in Super Bowl VIII at Houston, the
second consecutive Super Bowl championship for the Dolphins, January
13. The CBS telecast was viewed by approximately 75 million people.
Rozelle was given a 10-year contract effective
January 1, 1973, February 27.
Tampa Bay was awarded a franchise to begin
operation in 1976, April 24.
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.
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,
Pittsburgh defeated Minnesota 16-6 in Super Bowl IX at New Orleans,
the Steelers' first championship since entering the NFL in 1933.
The NBC telecast was viewed by approximately 78 million people.
The Memphis Southmen of the WFL signed Larry
Csonka, Jim Kiick, and Paul Warfield of Miami, March 31.
The divisional winners with the highest won-loss
percentage were made the home team for the divisional playoffs,
and the surviving winners with the highest percentage made home
teams for the championship games, June 26.
Referees were equipped with wireless microphones
for all preseason, regular-season, and playoff games.
The Lions moved to the new Pontiac Silverdome.
The Giants played their home games in Shea Stadium. The Saints moved
into the Louisiana Superdome.
The World Football League folded, October
Pittsburgh defeated Dallas 21-17 in Super Bowl X in Miami. The Steelers
joined Green Bay and Miami as the only teams to win two Super Bowls;
the 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.
Lloyd Nordstrom, the president of the Seahawks,
died at 66, January 20. 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. 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.
A veteran player allocation was held to stock
the Seattle and Tampa Bay franchises with 39 players each, March
30-31. In the college draft, Seattle and Tampa Bay each received
eight extra choices, April 8-9.
The Giants moved into new Giants Stadium in
East Rutherford, New Jersey.
The 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.
Oakland defeated Minnesota 32-14 in Super Bowl XI at Pasadena, January
9. The paid attendance was a pro record 103,438. The NBC telecast
was viewed by 81.9 million people, the largest ever to view a sports
event. The victory was the fifth consecutive for the AFC in the
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,
The San Francisco 49ers were sold to Edward
J. DeBartolo, Jr., March 28.
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.
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.
Rules changes were adopted to open up the
passing game and to cut down on injuries. Defenders were permitted
to make contact with eligible receivers only once; the head slap
was outlawed; offensive linemen were prohibited from thrusting their
hands to an opponent's neck, face, or head; and wide receivers were
prohibited from clipping, even in the legal clipping zone.
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.
Chicago's Walter Payton set a single-game
rushing record with 275 yards (40 carries) against Minnesota, November
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.
According to a Louis Harris Sports Survey,
70 percent of the nation's sports fans said they followed football,
compared to 54 percent who followed baseball. Football increased
its lead as the country's favorite, 26 percent to 16 percent for
baseball, January 19.
A seventh official, the side judge, was added
to the officiating crew, March 14.
The NFL continued a trend toward opening up
the game. Rules changes permitted a defender to maintain contact
with a receiver within five yards of the line of scrimmage, but
restricted contact beyond that point. The pass-blocking rule was
interpreted to permit the extending of arms and open hands, March
A study on the use of instant replay as an
officiating aid was made during seven nationally televised preseason
The NFL played for the first time in Mexico
City, with the Saints defeating the Eagles 14-7 in a preseason game,
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.
Pittsburgh defeated Dallas 35-31 in Super Bowl XIII at Miami to
become the first team ever to win three Super Bowls, January 21.
The NBC telecast was viewed in 35,090,000 homes, by an estimated
96.6 million fans.
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.
NFL rules changes emphasized additional player
safety. The changes prohibited players on the receiving team from
blocking below the waist during kickoffs, punts, and field-goal
attempts; prohibited the wearing of torn or altered equipment and
exposed pads that could be hazardous; extended the zone in which
there could be no crackback blocks; and instructed officials to
quickly whistle a play dead when a quarterback was clearly in the
grasp of a tackler, March 16.
Rosenbloom, the president of the Rams, drowned
at 72, April 2. His widow, Georgia, assumed control of the club.
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
The game was viewed in a record 35,330,000
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.
Rules changes placed greater restrictions
on contact in the area of the head, neck, and face. Under the heading
of "personal foul," players were prohibited from directly striking,
swinging, or clubbing on the head, neck, or face. Starting in 1980,
a penalty could be called for such contact whether or not the initial
contact was made below the neck area.
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
The Los Angeles Rams moved their home games
to Anaheim Stadium in nearby Orange County, California.
The Oakland Raiders joined the Los Angeles
Coliseum Commission's antitrust suit against the NFL. The suit contended
the league violated antitrust laws in declining to approve a proposed
move by the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles.
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.