1994 NFL season
|Duration||September 4, 1994 – December 26, 1994|
|Start date||December 31, 1994|
|AFC Champions||San Diego Chargers|
|NFC Champions||San Francisco 49ers|
|Super Bowl XXIX|
|Date||January 29, 1995|
|Site||Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami, Florida|
|Champions||San Francisco 49ers|
|Date||February 5, 1995|
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. Also, a selection committee of media and league personnel named a special NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, honoring the best NFL players from the first 75 seasons.
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 name was initially resisted by team owner Bill Bidwill.
This marked the last season until 2016 that the city of Los Angeles had an NFL team and the last one until 2017 that the city had two. Both the Rams and the Raiders left the city following the season. The Rams moved east to St. Louis, Missouri after being in Los Angeles for 49 years, while the Raiders left after twelve seasons to return to their previous home in Oakland, California. The Rams eventually returned in 2016 after failing to reach an agreement with St. Louis on a new stadium.
This was also the first season that the then eight-year old Fox network televised NFL games; the network had started its own sports division a year prior. Fox took over the National Football Conference package from CBS, who would return to televising the NFL in 1998. The league also signed an exclusivity agreement with the new direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service DirecTV to launch NFL Sunday Ticket, a satellite television subscription service that offers every regular season NFL game. The package remains exclusive to DirecTV to this day.
This was also the first time in which Christmas Day fell on a Sunday during the regular season. The league established the practice to move most of that weekend's games to the Saturday afternoon of Christmas Eve. Every NFL season afterwards with Christmas Day on a Sunday has followed this same scheduling format. Prior to the 1990 introduction of the bye week, Christmas had fallen within the postseason. In years in which Christmas was on a Sunday, that weekend's games would be split between Saturday, December 24 and Monday, December 26.
- July 21: San Francisco signed quarterback Bill Musgrave
- July 21: Indianapolis signed quarterback Don Majkowski
- July 22: Washington signed Defensive Back Martin Bayless
- July 22: The New York Giants re-signed sign punter Mike Horan
- July 22: The Los Angeles Rams signed running back Johnny Bailey
- July 23: Philadelphia signed Defensive End Greg Townsend
- July 23 The Los Angeles Raiders signed Tackle Robert Jenkins
- July 25: Indianapolis signed linebacker Scott Radecic
- July 25: Miami signed guard Houston Hoover.
- July 25: Green Bay signed guard Guy McIntyre.
- July 25: Kansas City signed wide receiver Sanjay Beach.
- July 25: Buffalo signed free safety Mike Dumas
- July 25: San Francisco signed Wide Receiver Ed McCaffrey
- July 26: Detroit signed Tight End Rodney Holman
- July 27 Green Bay signed defensive back Mike Prior
- July 30: Arizona signed defensive back Andre Waters
- July 30: San Francisco signed running back Marc Logan
- August 31: Minnesota signed punter Mike Saxon.
- April 14, 1994: Houston traded quarterback Warren Moon to Minnesota.
- April 24, 1994: Minnesota traded defensive end Chris Doleman as a part of a package involving draft picks to Atlanta.
- July 12, 1994: Detroit traded safety William White to Kansas City.
- January 15: Linebacker Lawrence Taylor announced his retirement. Taylor was a 10-time Pro-Bowler, 10-time All-Pro (eight first-team, two second-team), two time Super Bowl champion (XXI, XXV), 1981 Defensive Rookie of the Year, three time Defensive Player of the Year (1981, 1982, 1986), and 1986 NFL MVP. Taylor played for the New York Giants his entire 13-year career.
Major rule changes
A package of changes were adopted to increase offensive production and scoring:
- The two-point conversion after touchdowns is adopted.
- The spot of the kickoff is moved from the 35-yard line to the 30-yard line; this rule change was reverted prior to the 2011 season.
- 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.
- After a field goal is missed, the defensive team takes possession of the ball at the spot of the kick (instead of at the line of scrimmage) or the 20-yard line, whichever is farther from the goal line.
- During field goal attempts and extra point tries, players on the receiving team cannot block below the waist.
- The referee shall announce the end of each quarter on his microphone. Prior to 1994, an official (the line judge from 1965 up to 1993) fired a starter's pistol to signal the end of a period.
Throwback games and uniforms
The league also honored its 75th season by having each team wear throwback uniforms during selected games. The designs varied widely in their accuracy; many of them were not completely accurate for a number of reasons:
- Although no attempt was made to simulate obsolete leather helmets (which were phased out in the 1950s), teams simulating uniforms from the era of leather headgear (Bears, Cardinals, Lions, Packers, Redskins, Steelers) simply removed all decals and striping from their regular hard-shell helmets.
- All jerseys displayed the players' last names on the back, though this practice did not become standard until 1970.
- The Buffalo Bills and New York Jets' otherwise accurate throwbacks used different colored helmets than their historic uniforms used, being red and green, respectively, instead of white. The Dallas Cowboys wore their then-current helmets with their throwbacks. The Cowboys and the Bills would later adopt a more accurate representation of their 1960s throwbacks as their alternative uniform, while the Jets would move to a style similar to their throwbacks but with a darker shade of green and green facemasks full-time in 1998.
- In some instances the fonts and typestyles used were only approximate matches at best. The San Diego Chargers and Houston Oilers' throwbacks averted this, being completely accurate replications, including typefaces, of their first uniforms in 1960. The Chargers and the Oilers’ successors, the Tennessee Titans, wore these throwbacks again for the American Football League's 50th anniversary celebration during the 2009 season.
- On-field officials working these throwback games wore flat caps similar to the ones that NFL officials wore back in the 1920s, but still had on their regular striped shirts instead of the white dress shirts worn during that era.
Some teams occasionally wore their throwbacks in additional games during the season, and the San Francisco 49ers wore them through the Super Bowl. They proved to be so popular that the New York Giants followed the lead of the Jets (who went back to their 1960s logo in 1998) and eventually returned to wearing them full-time, with very slight modifications, in 2000. After the NFL modified its rules to allow teams to wear alternate jerseys in 2002, the San Diego Chargers selected their throwbacks as their third uniforms.
Instead of wearing their throwbacks in additional games, the Dallas Cowboys celebrated their back-to-back Super Bowl titles by wearing "Double-Star" white alternative jerseys during Thanksgiving and through the playoffs. Similar to their throwbacks, they had blue sleeves and blue stars on each shoulder, but it was the modern star design with white lines and blue borders.
A series of four pre-season games that were held at sites outside the United States. On July 31, the Los Angeles Raiders defeated Denver at Estadi Olímpic in Barcelona. On August 7, Minnesota defeated Kansas City at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo. On August 13, the New York Giants defeated San Diego at Olympiastadion in Berlin. On August 15, Houston defeated Dallas at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.
Hall of Fame Game
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, in which Atlanta defeated San Diego, was played on July 30 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, the same city where the league was founded. The 1994 Hall of Fame Class included Tony Dorsett, Bud Grant, Jimmy Johnson, Leroy Kelly, Jackie Smith and Randy White.
Highlights of the 1994 season included:
- Shula Bowl: On October 2, Don Shula's Miami Dolphins defeated his son David Shula's Cincinnati Bengals. This marked the first time in NFL history that a head coaching matchup featured father against son.
- Thanksgiving: Two games were played on Thursday, November 24, featuring Buffalo at Detroit and Green Bay at Dallas, with Detroit and Dallas winning.
- Miami finished ahead of New England in the AFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
- Kansas City finished ahead of L.A. Raiders in the AFC West based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
- Green Bay was the first NFC Wild Card based on best head-to-head record (3–1) vs. Detroit (2–2) and Chicago (1–3) and better conference record (8–4) than the New York Giants (6–6).
- Detroit was the second NFC Wild Card based on better division record (4–4) than Chicago (3–5) and head-to-head victory over N.Y. Giants (1–0).
- Chicago was the third NFC Wild Card based on better record against common opponents (4–4) than N.Y. Giants (3–5).
- New Orleans finished ahead of Atlanta in the NFC West based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
|Dec. 31 – Joe Robbie Stadium||Jan. 8 – Jack Murphy Stadium|
|3||Miami||27||Jan. 15 – Three Rivers Stadium|
|Jan. 1 – Cleveland Stadium||2||San Diego||17|
|Jan. 7 – Three Rivers Stadium|
|5||New England||13||AFC Championship|
|4||Cleveland||20||Jan. 29 – Joe Robbie Stadium|
|Wild Card playoffs|
|Dec. 31 – Lambeau Field||A2||San Diego||26|
|Jan. 8 – Texas Stadium|
|5||Detroit||12||Super Bowl XXIX|
|4||Green Bay||16||Jan. 15 – Candlestick Park|
|Jan. 1 – Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome||2||Dallas||28|
|Jan. 7 – Candlestick Park|
|Points scored||San Francisco 49ers (505)|
|Total yards gained||Miami Dolphins (6,078)|
|Yards rushing||Pittsburgh Steelers (2,180)|
|Yards passing||New England Patriots (4,444)|
|Fewest points allowed||Cleveland Browns (204)|
|Fewest total yards allowed||Dallas Cowboys (4,313)|
|Fewest rushing yards allowed||Minnesota Vikings (1,090)|
|Fewest passing yards allowed||Dallas Cowboys (2,752)|
|Scoring||John Carney, San Diego Chargers (135 points)|
|Touchdowns||Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys (22 TDs)|
|Most field goals made||John Carney, San Diego Chargers, and Fuad Reveiz, Minnesota Vikings (34 FGs)|
|Rushing||Barry Sanders, Detroit Lions (1,883 yards)|
|Passing||Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers (112.8 rating)|
|Passing touchdowns||Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers (35 TDs)|
|Pass receiving||Cris Carter, Minnesota Vikings (122 catches)|
|Pass receiving yards||Jerry Rice, San Francisco 49ers (1,499)|
|Punt returns||Brian Mitchell, Washington Redskins (14.1 average yards)|
|Kickoff returns||Mel Gray, Detroit Lions (28.4 average yards)|
|Interceptions||Eric Turner, Cleveland Browns, and Aeneas Williams, Arizona Cardinals (9)|
|Punting||Sean Landeta, Los Angeles Rams (44.8 average yards)|
|Sacks||Kevin Greene, Pittsburgh Steelers (14)|
|Most Valuable Player||Steve Young, Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers|
|Coach of the Year||Bill Parcells, New England Patriots|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Barry Sanders, Running back, Detroit Lions|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Deion Sanders, Cornerback, San Francisco 49ers|
|Offensive Rookie of the Year||Marshall Faulk, Running back, Indianapolis Colts|
|Defensive Rookie of the Year||Tim Bowens, Defensive tackle, Miami Dolphins|
|Comeback Player of the Year||Dan Marino, Quarterback, Miami Dolphins|
|NFL Man of the Year Award||Junior Seau, Linebacker, San Diego Chargers|
|Super Bowl Most Valuable Player||Steve Young, Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers|
- This was the first season since the early 1970s were several teams mainly in the AFC return to their Authentic stitch on nameplates & numbers on jerseys. Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks, Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos change from screenprint to stitch on nameplates and numbers on uniforms.
- New England Patriots: White numbers with Red trim on home jerseys. Red numbers with blue trim on road jerseys. Red facemask. New pants stripping.
- Miami Dolphins: Aqua numbers with orange trim on road jerseys. White numbers with orange trim on home jerseys. Adapting back to their early 1970s to early 1980s style.
- Denver Broncos: Added blue trim on nameplate home uniforms. Added orange trim on nameplate road uniforms.
- Seattle Seahawks: Smaller font size numbers.
- Arizona Cardinals: Buddy Ryan replaced the fired Joe Bugel.
- Atlanta Falcons: June Jones replaced the fired Jerry Glanville who became a color commentator for the NFL on Fox prior to the 1994 season.
- Dallas Cowboys: Barry Switzer replaced Jimmy Johnson, who resigned in March 1994.
- New York Jets: Pete Carroll replaced the fired Bruce Coslet.
- Washington Redskins: Norv Turner replaced the fired Richie Petitbon.
This was the final season of selected Green Bay Packers home games in Milwaukee. Recent upgrades to Lambeau Field started to make it more lucrative for the team to play full-time in Green Bay, while Milwaukee County Stadium was becoming outdated for football.
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. The Seahawks returned to Husky for the 2000 and 2001 seasons while their new stadium was under construction.
- "The NFL Salary Cap Turns 25: How it Began and Where It Is Now". AthlonSports.com. August 9, 2019. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
- "1994 NFL Transactions. Signings - July". National Football League. Retrieved March 15, 2021.
- "1994 NFL Transactions. Signings - August". National Football League. Retrieved March 15, 2021.
- "PRO FOOTBALL; Vikings Near On a Deal To Acquire Oilers' Moon". New York Times: By Frank Litsky, April 14, 1994. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
- "PRO FOOTBALL; The Bengals Land a Big One And Select Wilkinson at No. 1". New York Times: By Frank Litsky, April 25, 1994. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
- "1994 NFL Transactions. Trades - July". National Football League. Retrieved December 8, 2020.
- Anderson, Dave. of The Times; L.T. Decides 'It's Time For Me to Go', The New York Times, January 16, 1994, accessed March 23, 2008.
- "NFL takes step in pulling foot out". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. March 23, 1994. p. C1.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 21, 2010. Retrieved October 1, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- 100 Things Dolphins Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, Armando Salguero, Triumph Books, Chicago, 2020, ISBN 978-1-62937-722-3, p.157