1975 NFL season

The 1975 NFL season was the 56th regular season of the National Football League. It was the first NFL season without a tie game. The league made two significant changes to increase the appeal of the game:

  1. The surviving clubs with the best regular season records were made the home teams for each playoff round. Previously, game sites rotated by division.
  2. The league pioneered the use of equipping referees with wireless microphones to announce penalties and clarify complex and/or unusual rulings to both fans and the media.

Instead of a traditional Thanksgiving Day game hosted by the Dallas Cowboys, the league scheduled a Buffalo Bills at St. Louis Cardinals contest. This was the first season since 1966 that the Cowboys did not play on that holiday.

The season ended with Super Bowl X when the Pittsburgh Steelers repeated as champions by defeating the Dallas Cowboys 21–17 at the Orange Bowl in Miami.

1975 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 21 – December 21, 1975
Start dateDecember 27, 1975
AFC ChampionsPittsburgh Steelers
NFC ChampionsDallas Cowboys
Super Bowl X
DateJanuary 18, 1976
SiteOrange Bowl, Miami, Florida
ChampionsPittsburgh Steelers
Pro Bowl
DateJanuary 26, 1976
SiteLouisiana Superdome, New Orleans

Major rule changes

  • After a fourth down incomplete pass goes in or through the end zone, the other team will take possession at the previous line of scrimmage. Previously, it resulted in a touchback.
  • The penalty for pass interference on the offensive team is reduced from 15 yards to 10.
  • If there are fouls by both teams on the same play but one results in a player ejection, the penalties will still offset but the player will still be ejected.
  • Referees wwere equipped with wireless microphones to announce penalties and clarify complex and/or unusual rulings to both fans and the media. The NFL thus became the first professional league in North America to adopt this technology.

New officials

Jerry Seeman, who would go on to serve as referee for Super Bowl XXIII and Super Bowl XXV before a 10-year tenure as the NFL's Director of Officiating from 1991-2001, was hired as a line judge. Fred Swearingen, the referee in the 1972 Raiders-Steelers playoff game which produced the Immaculate Reception, was demoted to his former position, field judge. Gene Barth, the line judge on Jim Tunney's crew the previous four seasons, was promoted.

Stadium changes

Division races

Starting in 1970, through 2001, there were three divisions (Eastern, Central and Western) in each conference. The winners of each division, and a fourth “wild card” team based on the best non-division winner, qualified for the playoffs. The tiebreaker rules were changed to start with head-to-head competition, followed by division records, records against common records, and records in conference play.

National Football Conference

Week Eastern Central Western Wild Card
1 4 teams 1–0–0 Detroit, Minnesota 1–0–0 4 teams 0–1–0 4 teams 1–0–0
2 Dallas, Washington 2–0–0 Detroit, Minnesota 2–0–0 Los Angeles 1–1–0 2 teams 2–0–0
3 Dallas 3–0–0 Minnesota 3–0–0 Los Angeles 2–1–0 3 teams 2–1–0
4 Dallas 4–0–0 Minnesota 4–0–0 Los Angeles 3–1–0 Washington, Detroit 2–1–0
5 Dallas 4–1–0 Minnesota 5–0–0 Los Angeles 4–1–0 St. Louis, Detroit 2–1–0
6 Dallas 5–1–0 Minnesota 6–0–0 Los Angeles 5–1–0 Washington* 4–2–0
7 Dallas* 5–2–0 Minnesota 7–0–0 Los Angeles 6–1–0 Washington* 5–2–0
8 Washington* 6–2–0 Minnesota 8–0–0 Los Angeles 6–2–0 St. Louis 6–2–0
9 St. Louis 7–2–0 Minnesota 9–0–0 Los Angeles 7–2–0 Dallas, Detroit, Washington 6–3–0
10 St. Louis 8–2–0 Minnesota 10–0–0 Los Angeles 8–2–0 Dallas 7–3–0
11 Dallas* 8–3–0 Minnesota 10–1–0 Los Angeles 9–2–0 St. Louis 8–3–0
12 St. Louis 9–3–0 Minnesota 11–1–0 Los Angeles 10–2–0 Dallas 8–4–0
13 St. Louis 10–3–0 Minnesota 11–2–0 Los Angeles 11–2–0 Dallas 9–4–0
14 St. Louis 11–3–0 Minnesota 12–2–0 Los Angeles 12–2–0 Dallas 10–4–0

American Football Conference

Week Eastern Central Western Wild Card
1 Baltimore, Buffalo 1–0–0 3 teams 1–0–0 Denver, Oakland 1–0–0 4 teams 1–0–0
2 Buffalo 2–0–0 Cincinnati, Houston 2–0–0 Denver, Oakland 2–0–0 2 teams 2–0–0
3 Buffalo 3–0–0 Cincinnati 3–0–0 Oakland 3–0–0 5 teams 2–1–0
4 Buffalo 4–0–0 Cincinnati 4–0–0 Oakland 3–1–0 Pittsburgh* 3–1–0
5 Buffalo* 4–1–0 Cincinnati 5–0–0 Denver* 3–2–0 Pittsburgh* 4–1–0
6 Miami 5–1–0 Cincinnati 6–0–0 Oakland 4–2–0 Houston 5–1–0
7 Miami 6–1–0 Pittsburgh* 6–1–0 Oakland 5–2–0 Cincinnati* 6–1–0
8 Miami 7–1–0 Pittsburgh* 7–1–0 Oakland 5–2–0 Cincinnati* 7–1–0
9 Miami 7–2–0 Pittsburgh* 8–1–0 Oakland 7–2–0 Cincinnati* 8–1–0
10 Miami 7–3–0 Pittsburgh 9–1–0 Oakland 8–2–0 Cincinnati 8–2–0
11 Miami 8–3–0 Pittsburgh 10–1–0 Oakland 9–2–0 Cincinnati 9–2–0
12 Miami 9–3–0 Pittsburgh 11–1–0 Oakland 10–2–0 Cincinnati 10–2–0
13 Baltimore* 9–4–0 Pittsburgh 12–1–0 Oakland 10–3–0 Cincinnati 10–3–0
14 Baltimore 10–4–0 Pittsburgh 12–2–0 Oakland 11–3–0 Cincinnati 11–3–0

Final standings

AFC East
Baltimore Colts(3) 10 4 0 .714 6–2 8–3 395 269 W9
Miami Dolphins 10 4 0 .714 6–2 7–4 357 222 W1
Buffalo Bills 8 6 0 .571 5–3 7–4 420 355 L1
New York Jets 3 11 0 .214 2–6 3–8 258 433 L2
New England Patriots 3 11 0 .214 1–7 2–9 258 358 L6
AFC Central
Pittsburgh Steelers(1) 12 2 0 .857 6–0 10–1 373 162 L1
Cincinnati Bengals(4) 11 3 0 .786 3–3 8–3 340 246 W1
Houston Oilers 10 4 0 .714 2–4 7–4 293 226 W3
Cleveland Browns 3 11 0 .214 1–5 2–8 218 372 L1
AFC West
Oakland Raiders(2) 11 3 0 .786 5–1 8–3 375 255 W1
Denver Broncos 6 8 0 .429 3–3 4–7 254 307 L1
Kansas City Chiefs 5 9 0 .357 3–3 3–8 282 341 L4
San Diego Chargers 2 12 0 .143 1–5 2–9 189 345 L1
NFC East
St. Louis Cardinals(3) 11 3 0 .786 6–2 9–2 356 276 W3
Dallas Cowboys(4) 10 4 0 .714 6–2 8–3 350 268 W2
Washington Redskins 8 6 0 .571 4–4 7–4 325 276 L2
New York Giants 5 9 0 .357 1–7 3–8 216 306 W2
Philadelphia Eagles 4 10 0 .286 3–5 4–7 225 302 W1
NFC Central
Minnesota Vikings(1) 12 2 0 .857 5–1 8–2 377 180 W1
Detroit Lions 7 7 0 .500 4–2 6–5 245 262 L1
Chicago Bears 4 10 0 .286 2–4 4–7 191 379 W1
Green Bay Packers 4 10 0 .286 1–5 4–7 226 285 W1
NFC West
Los Angeles Rams(2) 12 2 0 .857 5–1 9–2 312 135 W6
San Francisco 49ers 5 9 0 .357 3–3 4–7 255 286 L4
Atlanta Falcons 4 10 0 .286 3–3 3–8 240 289 L1
New Orleans Saints 2 12 0 .143 1–5 2–9 165 360 L7


  • Baltimore finished ahead of Miami in the AFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
  • N.Y. Jets finished ahead of New England in the AFC East based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
  • Minnesota was the top NFC playoff seed based on point rating system (Vikings were 1st in NFC in points scored and 2nd in NFC in points allowed for a combined rating of 3 while Rams were 5th in NFC in points scored and 1st in NFC in points allowed for a combined rating of 6).
  • Chicago finished ahead of Green Bay in the NFC Central based on better division record (2–4 to Packers’ 1–5).


Divisional PlayoffsConference Championship GamesSuper Bowl X
December 28 – Metropolitan Stadium
4) Dallas17
January 4 – L.A. Memorial Coliseum
1) Minnesota14
4) Dallas37
December 27 – L.A. Memorial Coliseum
2) Los Angeles7
3) St. Louis23
January 18 – Miami Orange Bowl
2) Los Angeles35
N4) Dallas17
December 28 – Oakland Coliseum
A1) Pittsburgh21
4) Cincinnati28
January 4 – Three Rivers Stadium
2) Oakland10
December 27 – Three Rivers Stadium
1) Pittsburgh16
3) Baltimore10

*Pittsburgh (the AFC 1 seed) did not play Cincinnati (the 4 seed) in the Divisional playoff round because both teams were in the same division.


Most Valuable Player Fran Tarkenton, Quarterback, Minnesota Vikings
Coach of the Year Ted Marchibroda, Baltimore Colts
Offensive Player of the Year Fran Tarkenton, Quarterback, Minnesota Vikings
Defensive Player of the Year Mel Blount, Cornerback, Pittsburgh Steelers
Offensive Rookie of the Year Mike Thomas, Running Back, Washington Redskins
Defensive Rookie of the Year Robert Brazile, Linebacker, Houston Oilers
Man of the Year Ken Anderson, Quarterback, Cincinnati Bengals
Comeback Player of the Year Dave Hampton, Running Back, Atlanta Falcons
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Lynn Swann, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers


The 1975 NFL Draft was held from January 28 to 29, 1975 at New York City's Hilton at Rockefeller Center. With the first pick, the Atlanta Falcons selected quarterback Steve Bartkowski from the University of California.


American Football Conference

National Football Conference


  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 1971–1980 (Last accessed December 4, 2005)
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
Charlie Wade (American football)

Charlie Wade is a former wide receiver in the National Football League. He was drafted in the seventeenth round of the 1973 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins and later first played with the Chicago Bears the following year. During the 1975 NFL season he played with the Green Bay Packers before spending a season away from the NFL. He would play his final season with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Dennis Franklin

Dennis E. Franklin (born August 24, 1953) is a former professional American football player who was drafted by the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL) in the 1975 NFL Draft. Prior to playing for the NFL he played college football as a quarterback at the University of Michigan from 1971 to 1974. He was the starting quarterback for the Michigan Wolverines from 1972 to 1974. He was recruited by Michigan after starring for the Massillon High School football team in Ohio. Franklin is known as Michigan's first black quarterback.

Ernie Janet

Ernie Janet (born July 22, 1949) is a former guard in the National Football League.

Gil Chapman

Gil Chapman (born August 23, 1953) is a former American football player, politician and businessman.

Chapman became one of the leading scorers in the history of New Jersey high school football while playing for Thomas Jefferson High School in Elizabeth, New Jersey from 1968 to 1970. In 1970, he was picked by Parade magazine as the "Number 1 Player in America." He has also been selected as one of New Jersey's top ten offensive football players of the 20th Century.

From 1972 to 1974, he played college football for the University of Michigan under head coach Bo Schembechler. During his three years at Michigan, he scored 18 touchdowns and gained over 2,500 total yards, including 1,090 return yards, 919 rushing yards and 517 rushing yards. At the conclusion of his career, he held Michigan's all-time records for career kickoff return yardage (640) and single-game kickoff return yardage (125 against Illinois in 1972).

Chapman played professional football for the New Orleans Saints during the 1975 NFL season. As a rookie, he ranked fifth in the NFL with 12.2 yards per punt return and tenth with 804 total return yards.

After retiring from football, Chapman served from 1978 to 1983 on the City Council in Elizabeth, New Jersey, the first African-American to hold any elected office in the city. He worked in management and sales for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority from 1979 to 1984, including several years as the operations manager of Giants Stadium. From 1986 to 2009, he owned and operated a Ford Motor Company dealership on Staten Island, New York.

Hise Austin

Hise Austin is a former defensive back and wide receiver in the National Football League.

Jewish Guild

The Jewish Guild is a social club in suburban Johannesburg, South Africa, that was founded in the late 19th century. In its heyday, they fielded a football side that came runners up in the South African cup competition and even fielded the world renowned player George Best.

John Madden

John Madden (born April 10, 1936) is a former American football coach and sportscaster. He won a Super Bowl as head coach of the Oakland Raiders, and after retiring from coaching became a well-known color commentator for NFL telecasts. In 2006, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his coaching career. He is also widely known for the long-running Madden NFL video game series he has endorsed and fronted since 1988. Madden worked as a color analyst for all four major networks: CBS (1979–1993), Fox (1994–2001), ABC (2002–2005), and NBC (2006–2009).

Madden has also written several books and has served as a commercial pitchman for various products and retailers. He retired from broadcasting on April 16, 2009 to spend more time with his family.

John Mazur

John Edward Mazur (June 17, 1930 – November 1, 2013) was an American football player and coach. He was a quarterback for the University of Notre Dame and also served as head coach for the New England Patriots from 1970 to 1972.

Johnnie Gray

Johnnie Lee Gray (born December 18, 1953) is an American retired professional football player. Gray was a safety in the National Football League with the Green Bay Packers.

Kent Gaydos

Kent Gaydos is a former wide receiver in the National Football League.

Len Garrett

Len Garrett is a former tight end in the National Football League.

Levi Johnson

Levi Johnson (born October 30, 1950 in Corpus Christi, Texas) was a cornerback who played five seasons for the Detroit Lions in the National Football League. He had 21 interceptions in less than five years as an NFL player, returning three for touchdowns.Johnson led the Lions with five interceptions during the 1973 NFL season and the 1974 NFL season, returning two for touchdowns in 1974, including one on Thanksgiving Day against the Denver Broncos.He added another touchdown during the 1975 NFL season against the Green Bay Packers. During the season-opener, he blocked two punts and fell on one in the end zone for the score. Teammate Larry Ball picked up Johnson's other blocked punt and returned it 34 yards for another touchdown.Johnson had a career-high six interceptions in 1976, and was second on the team that season, one behind James Hunter. He also scored the final touchdown of his career, picking off Jim Zorn of the expansion Seattle Seahawks and returning it 70 yards for the score.Johnson had two interceptions in the 1977 NFL season's third game, against the Philadelphia Eagles, but sustained a knee injury and never played again in the NFL.

List of Monday Night Football results (1970–89)

Beginning in the 1970 NFL season, the National Football League began scheduling a weekly regular season game on Monday night before a national television audience. From 1970 to 2005, the ABC television network carried these games, with the ESPN cable television network taking over beginning in September 2006. Listed below are games played from 1970 to 1989.

Mercedes-Benz Superdome

The Mercedes-Benz Superdome, often referred to simply as the Superdome, is a domed sports and exhibition venue located in the Central Business District of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. It primarily serves as the home venue for the New Orleans Saints of the National Football League (NFL), the home stadium for the Sugar Bowl, New Orleans Bowl in college football and the longtime rivalry football game of the SWAC Conference’s Southern University and Grambling State University, known as the Bayou Classic (held yearly, every Thanksgiving Weekend). It also houses their schools’ Battle of the Bands between The Southern University "The Human Jukebox" and Grambling State’s Tiger Marching Band. Plans were drawn up in 1967 by the New Orleans modernist architectural firm of Curtis and Davis and the building opened as the Louisiana Superdome in 1975. Its steel frame covers a 13-acre (5.3 ha) expanse and the 273-foot (83 m) dome is made of a lamellar multi-ringed frame and has a diameter of 680 feet (210 m), making it the largest fixed domed structure in the world. It is adjacent to the Smoothie King Center.

Because of the building's size and location in one of the major tourist destinations of the United States, the Superdome routinely hosts major sporting events, including the Super Bowl, College Football Championship Game, and the Final Four in college basketball. The stadium was also the long-time home of the Tulane Green Wave football team of Tulane University until 2014 (when they returned on-campus at Yulman Stadium) and was the home venue of the New Orleans Jazz of the National Basketball Association (NBA) from 1975 until 1979.

The Superdome gained international attention of a different type in 2005 when it housed thousands of people seeking shelter from Hurricane Katrina. The building suffered extensive damage as a result of the storm, and was closed for many months afterward. It was eventually decided the building would be fully refurbished and reopened in time for the Saints' 2006 home opener on September 25.

On October 3, 2011, it was announced that German automaker Mercedes-Benz purchased naming rights to the stadium. The new name took effect on October 23, 2011.

Pat Peppler

Albert Patterson Peppler (April 16, 1922 – June 23, 2015) was an American football coach and executive who worked for teams that won five National Football League (NFL) titles. He may be best remembered for serving as head coach of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons during the final nine games of the 1976 NFL season.

Steve Broussard (punter)

Steve Broussard is a former punter in the National Football League.

Super Bowl IX

Super Bowl IX was an American football game played between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Pittsburgh Steelers and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Minnesota Vikings to decide the National Football League (NFL) champion for the 1974 season. The game was played on January 12, 1975, at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Steelers defeated the Vikings by the score of 16–6 to win their first Super Bowl championship.This game matched two of the NFL's best defenses and two future Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Led by quarterback Terry Bradshaw and the Steel Curtain defense, the Steelers advanced to their first Super Bowl after posting a 10–3–1 regular season record and playoff victories over the Buffalo Bills and the Oakland Raiders. The Vikings were led by quarterback Fran Tarkenton and the Purple People Eaters defense; they advanced to their second consecutive Super Bowl and third overall after finishing the regular season with a 10–4 record and defeating the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs.

The first half of Super Bowl IX was a defensive struggle, with the lone score being the first safety in Super Bowl history when Tarkenton was downed in his own end zone. The Steelers then recovered a fumble on the second half kickoff, and scored on fullback Franco Harris's 9-yard run. The Vikings cut the score, 9–6, early in the fourth quarter by recovering a blocked punt in Pittsburgh's end zone for a touchdown, but the Steelers then drove 66 yards on their ensuing possession to score on Larry Brown's 4-yard touchdown reception to put the game out of reach.

In total, the Steelers limited the Vikings to Super Bowl record lows of nine first downs, 119 total offensive yards, 17 rushing yards, and no offensive scores (Minnesota's only score came on a blocked punt, and they did not even score on the extra point attempt). The Steelers accomplished this despite losing starting linebackers Andy Russell and Jack Lambert, who were injured and replaced by Ed Bradley and Loren Toews for most of the second half. On the other hand, Pittsburgh had 333 yards of total offense. Harris, who ran for a Super Bowl record 158 yards (more than the entire Minnesota offense) and a touchdown, was named the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player.

Thomas Jefferson High School (New Jersey)

Thomas Jefferson High School was an all-boys public high school in Elizabeth, in Union County, New Jersey, United States, which operated as part of the Elizabeth Public Schools. The school opened in 1929 at which time Battin High School became an all-girls school. The school operated on a single-sex basis for 48 years until the end of the 1976–77 school year, ending its status as one half of the state's only pair of public high schools operated separately for male and female students.In 1957, district officials stated that the inability to determine attendance zones for the two comprehensive high schools after Thomas Jefferson High School opened in 1929 combined with the expansive shop facilities in the new building, led the district to decide to split students by sex, with girls at Battin and boys at Thomas Jefferson.The school closed at the end of the 1976–77 school year, after the Elizabeth High School complex was completed and all of the district's students, male and female, were accommodated at the new four-building facility, ending the city's status as "the only community in the state with separate public high schools for boys and girls". The $29.3 million project included renovations to Thomas Jefferson High School, which was integrated into the new complex. The Battin High School building, together with the four existing junior high schools, was repurposed as a middle school for grades six through eight.

Walt Michaels

Walter Edward Michaels (born October 16, 1929) is a former professional football player and coach who is best remembered for his six-year tenure as head coach of the NFL's New York Jets from 1977 to 1982. In 1977, Michaels was inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame and, in 1997 he was inducted into the National Polish American Sports Hall of Fame.

1975 NFL season
Early era
Modern era

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