1996 NFL season


1996 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 1 – December 23, 1996
Playoffs
Start dateDecember 28, 1996
AFC ChampionsNew England Patriots
NFC ChampionsGreen Bay Packers
Super Bowl XXXI
DateJanuary 26, 1997
SiteLouisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
ChampionsGreen Bay Packers
Pro Bowl
DateFebruary 2, 1997
SiteAloha Stadium

The 1996 NFL season was the 77th regular season of the National Football League and the season was marked by notable controversies from beginning to end. The season ended with Super Bowl XXXI when the Green Bay Packers defeated the New England Patriots 35–21 at the Louisiana Superdome.

Contents

Draft


The 1996 NFL Draft was held from April 20 to 21, 1996 at New York City's Theater at Madison Square Garden. With the first pick, the New York Jets selected wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson from the University of Southern California.

Referee changes


Gordon McCarter retired during the 1996 off-season. He joined the NFL in 1967, serving as a line judge and back judge, before being promoted to referee in 1974. Dale Hamer, who had to sit out the 1995 season to recover from open heart surgery, took over McCarter's officiating crew.

Future Vice President of Officiating Mike Pereira was hired as a side judge. He left the field after two seasons to join the league office and succeeded Jerry Seeman in 2001.

Major rule changes


Final regular season standings


Tiebreakers

Playoffs


Dec. 28 – Rich Stadium Jan. 4 – Mile High Stadium
5 Jacksonville 30
5 Jacksonville 30
4 Buffalo 27 Jan. 12 – Foxboro Stadium
1 Denver 27
AFC
Dec. 29 – Three Rivers Stadium 5 Jacksonville 6
Jan. 5 – Foxboro Stadium
2 New England 20
6 Indianapolis 14 AFC Championship
3 Pittsburgh 3
3 Pittsburgh 42 Jan. 26 – Louisiana Superdome
2 New England 28
Wild card playoffs
Divisional playoffs
Dec. 28 – Texas Stadium A2 New England 21
Jan. 5 – Ericsson Stadium
N1 Green Bay 35
6 Minnesota 15 Super Bowl XXXI
3 Dallas 17
3 Dallas 40 Jan. 12 – Lambeau Field
2 Carolina 26
NFC
Dec. 29 – 3Com Park 2 Carolina 13
Jan. 4 – Lambeau Field
1 Green Bay 30
5 Philadelphia 0 NFC Championship
4 San Francisco 14
4 San Francisco 14
1 Green Bay 35

Notable events


When Art Modell, owner of the Cleveland Browns, wanted to relocate his team to Baltimore in a surprise move first reported on by the Boston Globe on November 4, 1995, the ensuing press furor and public relations mess forced the league to intercede and make an agreement with him and the Cities of Cleveland and Baltimore before the new season had barely begun. In the belated agreement, the name, colors and history of the Browns were to remain in Cleveland, while the relocated club would technically be a new league franchise; the city of Cleveland would be given another new franchise in the next few years, or a relocated existing franchise. Either way, the beloved Cleveland Browns would continue, while the Baltimore Ravens began their new history when the 1996 season started.

The season was also the final season for the Houston Oilers before leaving Texas for Memphis for the following season, and then to Nashville in 1998. This move left Houston with no professional football team until the 2002 debut of the Texans.

One of the most memorable aspects of the 1996 season was that the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars, each in just their second year of existence, both advanced to their respective conference championship games. 1996 marked the third year the NFL salary cap was in force and also marked the end of multiple “dynasties” in the NFL as it was the first season since 1991 (and only the second since 1987) in which neither the Dallas Cowboys nor the San Francisco 49ers played in the NFC Championship Game. It was also the first NFC Championship Game ever that did not feature either the Cowboys, 49ers, Washington Redskins, or Los Angeles Rams.

The season ended with Super Bowl XXXI when the Green Bay Packers defeated the New England Patriots in a game ultimately decided when a third-quarter kick-off was returned 99 yards for a touchdown by Packers’ kick returner, Desmond Howard. For that, and his excellent performance on kick-off and punt returns throughout the game, Howard was named Super Bowl MVP, the first and only time that a special teams player has earned that award.

All that was nearly overshadowed by the press feeding frenzy reporting and commenting on the rumor, between the AFC championship game up to and into the broadcast coverage of Super Bowl XXXI itself, that iconic coach Bill Parcells was planning on breaking his contract with the New England Patriots because he did not get along well with owner Robert Kraft, who had helped turn around New England's image after years of ownership that was either dismal or absent. In the event, Parcells did not even return with the players, and telephone records showed he was talking to the Jets in the days before and the day of the Super Bowl itself. This documentary evidence led to the league awarding the Patriots multiple draft picks in compensation for the "tampering" by the Jets,[1] which is but a continuation of one-upmanship that has gone on for years between the heated rivals.

Statistical leaders


Team

Points scored Green Bay Packers (456)
Total yards gained Denver Broncos (5,791)
Yards rushing Denver Broncos (2,362)
Yards passing Jacksonville Jaguars (4,110)
Fewest points allowed Green Bay Packers (210)
Fewest total yards allowed Green Bay Packers (4,156)
Fewest rushing yards allowed Denver Broncos (1,331)
Fewest passing yards allowed Green Bay Packers (2,740)

Individual

Scoring John Kasay, Carolina (145 points)
Touchdowns Terry Allen, Washington (21 TDs)
Most field goals made John Kasay, Carolina (37 FGs)
Rushing Barry Sanders, Detroit (1,553 yards)
Passing Steve Young, San Francisco (97.2 rating)
Passing touchdowns Brett Favre, Green Bay (39 TDs)
Pass receiving Jerry Rice, San Francisco (108 catches)
Pass receiving yards Isaac Bruce, St. Louis (1,338)
Punt returns Desmond Howard, Green Bay (15.1 average yards)
Kickoff returns Michael Bates, Carolina (30.2 average yards)
Interceptions Tyrone Braxton, Denver and Keith Lyle, St. Louis (9)
Punting John Kidd, Miami (46.3 average yards)
Sacks Kevin Greene, Carolina (14.5)

Awards


Most Valuable Player Brett Favre, Quarterback, Green Bay
Coach of the Year Dom Capers, Carolina
Offensive Player of the Year Terrell Davis, Running Back, Denver
Defensive Player of the Year Bruce Smith, Defensive End, Buffalo
Offensive Rookie of the Year Eddie George, Running Back, Houston
Defensive Rookie of the Year Simeon Rice, Defensive End, Arizona
Comeback Player of the Year Jerome Bettis, Running Back, Pittsburgh
NFL Man of the Year Award Darrell Green, Cornerback, Washington
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Desmond Howard, Return Specialist, Green Bay

Coaching changes


Stadium changes


Uniform changes


External links


References


Footnotes

  1. ^ Michael Holly (2004). Patriots Reign (1st ed. HC ed.). HarperCollins. p. 240. ISBN 978-0-06-075795-3.







Categories: National Football League seasons | 1996 National Football League season | 1996 in American football




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