1994 NFL season
NFL 75th season anniversary logo
|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 Bill Bidwill.
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 for the 2000 and 2001 seasons while their new stadium was under construction.
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. 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.
The season ended with Super Bowl XXIX when the San Francisco 49ers defeated the San Diego Chargers 49–26 at Joe Robbie Stadium. Both teams had met that regular season, the second straight season that had happened, and ninth time overall.
Even though the 1994 World Series was canceled, the NFL ultimately decided not to reschedule its Thursday night contests in October for Sunday, even though they wouldn't have competed with baseball those nights.
This was also the first year of the current practice of whenever Christmas Day falls on a Sunday that most of that weekend's games were played on 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.)
1994 would also be the first season in which the NFL instituted a salary cap.
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 would be 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 period 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.
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.
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 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.
Final regular season standings
- 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 N.Y. 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|
- Arizona Cardinals: Buddy Ryan replaced the fired Joe Bugel.
- Atlanta Falcons: June Jones replaced the fired Jerry Glanville.
- 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.
|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|
The 1994 NFL Draft was held from April 24 to 25, 1994 at New York City's Marriott Marquis. With the first pick, the Cincinnati Bengals selected defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson from Ohio State University.