Canceled NFL games

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The following is a list of games that have been canceled by the National Football League since 1933. While canceling games was extremely common prior to this date, since that year, the NFL has only seen four instances in which games have been canceled and not been rescheduled due to labor disputes between the league and the National Football League Players Association. In the first labor dispute (1974) and, to date, the most recent dispute (2011), only one preseason game each were lost while seven weeks of regular season games were canceled in 1982 and one week of regular season games was canceled in 1987.

In addition only four other games (all exhibition) were canceled for reasons other than a labor dispute. The China Bowl, which was originally scheduled to take place in 2007, was postponed to 2009 and eventually canceled due to an economic recession. The three other canceled exhibition games were the result of unsafe playing fields: a 1995 NFL preseason game between the San Diego Chargers and the Houston Oilers [1] a 2001 preseason game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Philadelphia Eagles,[2] and the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game. [3]

1920s and 1930s[edit]

Canceling games was far more common in the 1920s and early 1930s, in the founding years of the league. When a team did not want to play a game, they could cancel without any punishment or penalty. Several years after league schedules were standardized in 1933, cancellations were effectively banned, and teams would have to forfeit the game or postpone if a cancellation was due to issues outside the team's control. There have been no forfeits in the league's history; a 1921 game between the Rochester Jeffersons and the Washington Senators is occasionally listed as a forfeit, but because of the lax cancellation rules of the time, is listed in modern records as a cancellation. The last unpunished cancellation of a regular season NFL game is believed to have been a November 17, 1935 contest between the Boston Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles game, which was canceled due to severe rain and snow.

Several games were removed from the schedules of the NFL teams of the early 1940s, but because the issues (namely, World War II, the loss of marquee talent to the war effort, and restrictions on resource usage) were already foreseen by the start of the 1942 season, the league was able to issue shortened schedules from the start without having to cancel already scheduled contests.

1974 Players Strike[edit]

The 1974 College All-Star Game, an exhibition game that pitted the most recent Super Bowl champion (Miami Dolphins) against a team composed entirely of rookies, was canceled as a result of a players' strike. The strike was resolved before any further games were canceled; the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, along with the rest of the 1974 NFL season, went on as scheduled, although at least one game was held with the Denver Broncos using a squad of rookie replacement players.[4]

1982 Players Strike[edit]

In 1982, players began a 57-day strike following the completion of the second week of the regular season. As a result of the impasse, games were simply canceled until a settlement was reached. Upon reaching that settlement, the NFL announced that the games originally scheduled for the third week of the season would be played following the completion of the resumed regular season, which saw weeks 11–16 played as scheduled. This meant the 1982 shortened season would include only nine regular season contests played by each club. This was followed by an expansion of the playoffs from 10 to 16 teams.

In order to ensure as many teams had played their division opponents, the ninth week was designed to ensure as many teams had played their division opponents during the season. All but two contests (New York Jets-Kansas City and Dallas-Minnesota) matching opponents from the same division.

1982 games lost[edit]

Week Three – September 26[edit]

Day Visiting Team Home Team
Thursday Atlanta Kansas City
Sunday Buffalo Houston
Sunday Chicago San Francisco
Sunday Denver New Orleans
Sunday L.A. Rams Philadelphia
Sunday Miami Green Bay
Sunday N.Y. Giants Pittsburgh
Sunday N.Y. Jets Baltimore
Sunday Seattle New England
Sunday Tampa Bay Detroit
Monday Cincinnati Cleveland

Week Four – October 3[edit]

Day Visiting Team Home Team
Sunday Baltimore Detroit
Sunday Cleveland Washington
Sunday Houston N.Y. Jets
Sunday Kansas City Seattle
Sunday L.A. Rams St. Louis
Sunday Miami Cincinnati
Sunday Minnesota Chicago
Sunday New England Buffalo
Sunday New Orleans L.A. Raiders
Sunday N.Y. Giants Dallas
Sunday Philadelphia Green Bay
Sunday Pittsburgh Denver
Sunday San Diego Atlanta
Monday San Francisco Tampa Bay

Week Five – October 10[edit]

Day Visiting Team Home Team
Sunday Atlanta L.A. Rams
Sunday Buffalo Baltimore
Sunday Cincinnati New England
Sunday Cleveland L.A. Raiders
Sunday Denver N.Y. Jets
Sunday Detroit Miami
Sunday Green Bay Chicago
Sunday Houston Kansas City
Sunday Minnesota Tampa Bay
Sunday San Francisco New Orleans
Sunday Seattle San Diego
Sunday St. Louis N.Y. Giants
Sunday Washington Dallas
Monday Philadelphia Pittsburgh

Week Six – October 17[edit]

Day Visiting Team Home Team
Sunday Atlanta Detroit
Sunday Baltimore Cleveland
Sunday Chicago St. Louis
Sunday Cincinnati N.Y. Giants
Sunday Dallas Philadelphia
Sunday Denver Houston
Sunday Kansas City San Diego
Sunday L.A. Raiders Seattle
Sunday New England Miami
Sunday New Orleans Minnesota
Sunday Pittsburgh Washington
Sunday Tampa Bay Green Bay
Monday Buffalo N.Y. Jets

Week Seven – October 24[edit]

Day Visiting Team Home Team
Sunday Dallas Cincinnati
Sunday Detroit Buffalo
Sunday Green Bay Minnesota
Sunday L.A. Raiders Denver
Sunday New Orleans L.A. Rams
Sunday St. Louis New England
Sunday San Diego Seattle
Sunday San Francisco Atlanta
Sunday Tampa Bay Chicago
Sunday Washington Houston

Week Eight – October 31[edit]

Day Visiting Team Home Team
Sunday Buffalo Denver
Sunday Chicago Green Bay
Sunday Dallas N.Y. Giants
Sunday Houston Cleveland
Sunday L.A. Rams San Diego
Sunday Miami L.A. Raiders
Sunday New England N.Y. Jets
Sunday Philadelphia St. Louis
Sunday Pittsburgh Cincinnati
Sunday San Francisco Washington
Sunday Seattle Kansas City
Sunday Tampa Bay Baltimore
Monday Detroit Minnesota

Week Nine – November 7[edit]

Day Visiting Team Home Team
Sunday Atlanta Chicago
Sunday Baltimore New England
Sunday Detroit Philadelphia
Sunday Green Bay Tampa Bay
Sunday Houston Pittsburgh
Sunday Kansas City L.A. Raiders
Sunday L.A. Rams New Orleans
Sunday Minnesota San Francisco
Sunday N.Y. Giants Cleveland
Sunday N.Y. Jets Buffalo
Sunday St. Louis Dallas
Sunday Washington Cincinnati
Monday San Diego Miami

Week Ten – November 14[edit]

Day Visiting Team Home Team
Sunday Cleveland Miami
Sunday Dallas San Francisco
Sunday Denver Kansas City
Sunday L.A. Raiders Baltimore
Sunday Minnesota Washington
Sunday New Orleans San Diego
Sunday N.Y. Giants L.A. Rams
Sunday N.Y. Jets Pittsburgh
Sunday Seattle St. Louis
Monday Philadelphia Atlanta

Games postponed for rescheduled Week Nine[edit]

As a result of the NFL attempting to ensure each team had played their division rivals (not used for the season) once to ensure maximum attendance, the NFL used most such division rivalries to be assigned as Week Nine games. The Giants-Philadelphia Monday Night game originally scheduled for Week Seven was moved to Sunday, while the Dallas-Minnesota game originally scheduled for Week Three on Sunday was moved to Monday.

Org Day Visiting Team Home Team
3 Sunday St. Louis Washington
3 Sunday L.A. Raiders San Diego
6 Sunday L.A. Rams San Francisco
7 Sunday Cleveland Pittsburgh
7 Sunday Miami Baltimore
7 Sunday N.Y. Jets Kansas City
7 Sunday N.Y. Giants Philadelphia
8 Sunday Atlanta New Orleans
9 Sunday Denver Seattle
10 Sunday Buffalo New England
10 Sunday Chicago Tampa Bay
10 Sunday Cincinnati Houston
10 Sunday Green Bay Detroit
3 Monday Dallas Minnesota

1987 Players Strike[edit]

In 1987, the players went on strike for a second time in-season, again following the second week of the campaign. However, unlike 1982, the owners took the bold step of using replacement players. After missing just one week of action, the NFL resumed with replacement players for Week 4. By the time Week 6 had rolled around, enough players had crossed the picket lines and forced an agreement. The canceled games of Week 3 simply weren't made up, and the league counted the three weeks of game results featuring the replacement players as regular season games toward each team's final standings. By Week 7, the teams had all players back in action, with all teams completing a 15-game schedule. Also unlike 1982, there was no change to the playoff format that season.

1987 games lost[edit]

Week Three – September 27[edit]

Day Visiting Team Home Team
Sunday Atlanta New Orleans
Sunday Buffalo Dallas
Sunday Chicago Detroit
Sunday Cincinnati L.A. Rams
Sunday Green Bay Tampa Bay
Sunday Indianapolis St. Louis
Sunday Minnesota Kansas City
Sunday L.A. Raiders Houston
Sunday New England Washington
Sunday N.Y. Giants Miami
Sunday N.Y. Jets Pittsburgh
Sunday Philadelphia San Francisco
Sunday Seattle San Diego
Monday Denver Cleveland

1995 preseason game in Houston[edit]

An August 19, 1995 preseason game between the San Diego Chargers and the Houston Oilers was the first game in NFL history to be canceled because of turf problems. An NFL official canceled the preseason game before kickoff after determining the Astrodome's artificial turf endangered the players. [5]

2001 preseason game in Philadelphia[edit]

An August 13, 2001 preseason game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Philadelphia Eagles was canceled because of an unplayable playing surface at Veterans Stadium. This was scheduled to be the first football game played at the stadium after a new artificial surface, NexTurf, was installed. Because the multi-purpose stadium was shared by both the Eagles and the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team, this surface (and the previous artificial turf installations before it) included cutouts that covered up the dirt infield around the bases. After examining the turf, Ravens coach Brian Billick refused to let the Ravens take the field for warm-ups when he discovered a trench around the area where third base was covered up by one of the cutouts. City crews unsuccessfully tried to fix the problem, forcing the game to be canceled. Later, players from both teams reported that they sank into the turf in locations near the infield cutouts. Team president Joe Banner was irate after the game, calling the stadium's conditions "absolutely unacceptable" and "an embarrassment to the city of Philadelphia."[6] City officials, however, promised that the stadium would be suitable for play when the regular season started. The Eagles would later move into Lincoln Financial Field in 2003, and the Phillies would move into its own separate ballpark, Citizens Bank Park, in 2004.

September 11, 2001 attacks[edit]

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the NFL postponed the games for Week 2 of the 2001 season (originally scheduled for September 16 – 17) until the end of the regular season. All playoff games following the 2001 regular season, including Super Bowl XXXVI, and the 2002 Pro Bowl were re-scheduled one week later.

This was in contrast during the wake of the John F. Kennedy assassination in 1963 when the NFL went ahead and played its full slate of games that week, a decision that then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle would later regret,[7] though he also stated that Pierre Salinger, Kennedy's secretary, had urged him to allow the games to be played.[8] Meanwhile, the American Football League canceled week 12 of its 1963 season and later rescheduled those games.

2011 owners lockout[edit]

On July 22, 2011, the NFL announced that that year's Pro Football Hall of Fame Game (originally set for August 7 of that year between Chicago and St. Louis) had been canceled, due to an ongoing lockout that had been in place since March of that year.[9] The league approved a new collective bargaining agreement on July 21, but at the same time announced the cancellation of the game, citing the fact that the players would not have enough time in training camp to prepare before the game.[10][11]

The NFL also had contingency plans to cancel and/or postpone regular season games (up to eight) if a labor agreement could not be reached by the start of the regular season.[12][13] The league did not have to implement the plans, since the players association agreed to terms with the NFL on July 25, ending the lockout.

2016 Hall of Fame Game[edit]

The 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game was canceled at the last minute due to poor playing conditions on the newly-installed FieldTurf that had been placed at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in the off-season. Mike Silver of reported that on the morning of game day, the logos on the field had been painted using "improper" paint which was not drying fast enough. The field was heated in an attempt to dry it, but this caused the turf's rubber to melt. These issues led to unfavorable play conditions; the affected areas were described as being slick and "like cement". Stadium officials attempted to address this by applying a solvent, reportedly paint thinner, to the turf. After noticing a label warning that skin contact with this substance could result in burns, a Green Bay Packers employee alerted others to the discovery. When officially cancelling the game, both the league and the Players Association cited safety concerns.[14][15]

Effects due to severe weather and natural disasters[edit]

In the modern era, severe weather or natural disasters have affected some games, but none have been canceled outright – they were either switched to a different location, or to a different date in the schedule.

The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damaged Candlestick Park, forcing the San Francisco 49ers to play their next home game against New England Patriots at Stanford University's Stanford Stadium.[16]

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew forced the September 6 game between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins at Joe Robbie Stadium to be rescheduled to October 18, when both teams originally had a bye week.[17]

In the wake of the October 25, 2003 Cedar Fire, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to assist in the disaster relief process. Because of the soot and particulate matter in the air from the fire two days earlier, the NFL was forced to move the Monday Night Football game on October 27 between the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.[18]

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 damaged the Louisiana Superdome. The NFL decided that the New Orleans Saints' first regularly scheduled home game against the New York Giants be played in Giants Stadium in New Jersey, with the Saints the home team in name only.[19] For the rest of the season, the Saints home games were split between the Alamodome in San Antonio and Louisiana State University's Tiger Stadium.

In 2010, a severe storm in Minnesota deposited over 17 inches (43cm) of snow on the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which caused the roof to collapse about 24 hours later, early in the morning of December 12. The Minnesota Vikings had been scheduled to host the New York Giants that afternoon. Prior to the collapse, the game had already been postponed to Monday night, December 13, due to the concerns of stadium officials. The game was relocated to Ford Field in Detroit, still played Monday night.[20] The Vikings' December 20 game against Chicago was moved to TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.[21] The collapse affected no further NFL games, as the rest of the Vikings' 2010 season consisted of road games, and the team had already been eliminated from playoff contention.

On December 26, 2010, a Sunday Night Football game between the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia was postponed to Tuesday, December 28, due to a severe snowstorm. It was the first Tuesday NFL game in 64 years.[22]

In 2014, a severe snowstorm that hit the Buffalo area forced a New York Jets-Buffalo Bills game, originally scheduled for November 23, to be moved to Detroit's Ford Field on November 24.[23]

Effects of shared stadiums and sports complexes[edit]

There have also been rare occasions in which games had to be pushed back one night because of a last-minute scheduling conflict in the facility of those games, most notably when an NFL team has shared a home stadium with a team from Major League Baseball and the baseball team has needed the building for a post-season game. This was a frequent occurrence when there were several shared stadiums across the country, but since 2012 only one such venue remains: Coliseum in Oakland, home of the NFL Raiders and the MLB Athletics; both teams are in the process of exploring a new stadium.

Sunday World Series games in 1987 (Denver Broncos at Minnesota Vikings) and 1997 (Chicago Bears at Miami Dolphins) have forced Vikings and Dolphins to play their originally home games on the following night. The 1987 World Series also caused the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to switch home dates for their two games that season in order to avoid another scheduling conflict with the World Series that year. In 2001, a potential Oakland Athletics baseball playoff game forced the Raiders to play their contest against the Dallas Cowboys two weeks in advance to avoid a possible conflict, when both clubs originally had their bye week (as it turned out, the Athletics ended up getting eliminated a few days before the originally scheduled date of the Cowboys-Raiders game).[24] In at least another case, a 2013 baseball playoff game forced the Raiders to postpone their originally scheduled Sunday afternoon game against the San Diego Chargers from 4:25 pm Eastern/1:25 pm Pacific to a far late-night start time of 11:35 Eastern/8:35 Pacific.[25]

On October 12, 1964, the St. Louis Cardinals were forced to move their scheduled home game vs. the Baltimore Colts to Memorial Stadium, since St. Louis' Busch Stadium I was being used for the World Series by the baseball Cardinals. Even though game five of the World Series was played that day at Yankee Stadium, the football Cardinals could not use the stadium until the baseball team, the stadium's owner, had completed its season.

The 1973 New York Jets faced the same situation as the 1964 Cardinals. The New York Mets unexpectedly reached the World Series, and under the terms of the Jets' lease at Shea Stadium in place at the time, there could be no football games at the stadium in Queens until the Mets' season was complete. Thus, the Jets were forced to move their October 21 game vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers from Shea to Three Rivers Stadium, even though the final game of the Series at Shea was played October 18 (games six and seven were played at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, home of the Oakland Athletics).

The Atlanta Falcons were forced to move their October 5, 1969 home game vs. the Colts from Atlanta Stadium to Grant Field at Georgia Tech due to the Atlanta Braves hosting the New York Mets in game two of the National League Championship Series. The same day, the Minnesota Vikings moved their home game vs. the Green Bay Packers from Metropolitan Stadium to Memorial Stadium at the University of Minnesota due to an American League Championship Series game between the Minnesota Twins and Baltimore Orioles.

Although NFL/MLB-shared stadiums are now rare instead of the norm, there are several current NFL stadiums that share the same parking lots and other ancillary facilities with an adjacent MLB ballpark, thus also preventing both teams from playing simultaneously. There has been at least one case where an NFL game was pushed back because the baseball team needed the entire complex for a post-season game: a New York GiantsPhiladelphia Eagles game at Lincoln Financial Field was moved from 4:15 pm to 1:00 pm to accommodate the Philadelphia Phillies hosting Game 4 of the 2009 World Series at adjacent Citizens Bank Park.[26]


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  6. ^ "N.F.L.: ROUNDUP; Eagles' Turf Unsafe For Ravens' Game". The New York Times. August 14, 2001. Retrieved April 14, 2009. 
  7. ^ Mayer, Larry (November 22, 2013). "With nation mourning JFK, NFL games were played". Chicago Bears. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  8. ^ Mayer, Larry (November 22, 2013). "1963 season: Bears tie Steelers 17–17". Chicago Bears. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  9. ^ Pro Football Hall of Fame’s statement regarding cancellation of NFL/Hall of Fame Game. Pro Football Hall of Fame news release. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
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  11. ^ Hammond, Joel (July 22, 2011). NFL collective bargaining deal still awaits players' approval. Crain's Cleveland Business. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
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  13. ^ Roth, Andy (2011-06-07). Report: NFL plans for short season if necessary. WGR. Retrieved 2011-06-08.
  14. ^ Demovsky, Rob (August 7, 2016). "Poor field conditions force cancellation of Hall of Fame game". Retrieved August 7, 2016. 
  15. ^ "Hall of Fame Game fiasco: How the wrong paint, melted rubber, and caustic paint thinner nixed Packers-Colts". Acme Packing Company (SBNation). Vox Media. Retrieved 10 August 2016. 
  16. ^ "NFL History: 1981–1990". Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  17. ^ "Dolphins and Patriots Reschedule Opener". Los Angeles Times. 1992-08-29. Retrieved 2013-09-15. 
  18. ^ "Fires move Monday night game to Tempe". 2003-10-26. Archived from the original on 2006-10-14. Retrieved 2006-12-17.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  19. ^ "Saints home opener at New York" (PDF). New Orleans Times-Picayune. 2005-09-03. Retrieved 2007-01-12.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  20. ^ Giants-Vikings moved to Ford Field,, December 12, 2010, accessed December 12, 2010.
  21. ^ Monday's Vikings-Bears game will be played at U's stadium; Dome won't be ready, Star Tribune, December 14, 2010, Accessed December 14, 2010.
  22. ^ "Fierce storm sacks Vikings-Eagles game". ESPN. 2010-12-27. Retrieved 2012-12-15. 
  23. ^ "Jets-Bills game moved to Detroit on Monday night". November 20, 2014. Retrieved November 20, 2014. 
  24. ^ "Cowboys-Raiders game moved to Oct. 21". Associated Press. USA Today. September 19, 2001. Retrieved October 18, 2013. 
  25. ^ Gutierrez, Paul (September 30, 2013). "Raiders to have late kickoff Sunday". ESPN. Retrieved October 18, 2013. 
  26. ^ "NFL changes times as Series looms". Associated Press. October 13, 2009. Retrieved October 18, 2013. 

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