1990 NFL season

The 1990 NFL season was the 71st regular season of the National Football League. To increase revenue, the league changed the regular season so that all NFL teams would play their 16-game schedule over a 17-week period. Furthermore, the playoff format was expanded from 10 teams to 12 teams by adding another wild card from each conference, thus adding two more contests to the postseason schedule; this format remains in use today (although there are now four division spots and two wild card spots available with realignment in 2002). During four out of the five previous seasons, at least one team with a 10–6 record missed the playoffs, including the 11–5 Denver Broncos in 1985; meanwhile, the 10–6 San Francisco 49ers won Super Bowl XXIII, leading for calls to expand the playoff format to ensure that 10–6 teams could compete for a Super Bowl win. Ironically, the first ever sixth-seeded playoff team would not have a 10–6 record, but instead, the New Orleans Saints, with a paltry 8–8 record, took the new playoff spot.

This was also the first full season for Paul Tagliabue as the league's Commissioner, after taking over from Pete Rozelle midway through the previous season.

ABC was given the rights to televise the two additional playoff games. Meanwhile, Turner's TNT network started to broadcast Sunday night games for the first half of the season.

On October 8, the league announced that the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Award would be named the Pete Rozelle Trophy.[1] The season ended with Super Bowl XXV when the New York Giants defeated the Buffalo Bills 20–19 at Tampa Stadium. This would be the first Super Bowl appearance for Buffalo, who would lose the next three Super Bowls as well.

Late in the season, with the Gulf War looming closer, the NFL announced that starting in Week 16 (and continuing until Super Bowl XXV), the league would add American flag decals to the back of the helmet.[2] The flag would return on a permanent basis in 2001 following the September 11 attacks.

1990 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 9 – December 31, 1990
Start dateJanuary 5, 1991
AFC ChampionsBuffalo Bills
NFC ChampionsNew York Giants
Super Bowl XXV
DateJanuary 27, 1991
SiteTampa Stadium, Tampa, Florida
ChampionsNew York Giants
Pro Bowl
DateFebruary 3, 1991
SiteAloha Stadium

Major rule changes

  • The rule for unnecessary roughness penalties is clarified so that any player who butts, spears, or rams an opponent risks immediate disqualification.
  • The penalty for an illegal forward pass beyond the line of scrimmage is enforced from the spot where any part of the passer's body is beyond the line when the ball is released.
  • The following changes are made to try to speed up the game:
    • the time interval on the Play Clock (the time limit the offensive team has to snap the ball between plays) after time outs and other administrative stoppages has been reduced from 30 seconds to 25 seconds (the time interval between plays remains the same at 45 seconds);
    • whenever a player goes out of bounds, other than in the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half or overtime, the game clock immediately starts when the ball is spotted for the next play and the Referee signals it is ready for play; and
    • other than in the last two minutes of the first half and the last five minutes of the second half or overtime the game clock also starts following all declined penalties.
  • This was the first season in which NFL teams officially had a bye week.

Officiating changes

Dick Jorgensen, who had been the referee in the previous season's Super Bowl XXIV, was diagnosed in May during the offseason with a rare blood disorder.[3] He died five months later on October 10.[4] For the remainder of the 1990 season, NFL officials wore a black armband on their left sleeve with the white number 60 to honor Jorgensen.[5]

Ben Dreith and Fred Wyant were demoted to line judge. Dreith later filed a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after the league fired him after the 1990 season, citing age discrimination as the reason for both his demotion to line judge and his dismissal.[6][7] Dreith and the NFL would later agree in 1993 to a $165,000 settlement, plus court costs and attorney fees.[8]

Only two, Gerald Austin and Tom White, were promoted to referee. After one season with having 16 officiating crews in 1989, it was reduced back to 15 crews in 1990 to handle the weekly workload of 14 games.

Final regular season standings

AFC East
(1) Buffalo Bills 13 3 0 .813 7–1 10–2 428 263 L1
(4) Miami Dolphins 12 4 0 .750 7–1 10–2 336 242 W1
Indianapolis Colts 7 9 0 .438 3–5 5–7 281 353 L1
New York Jets 6 10 0 .375 2–6 4–10 295 345 W2
New England Patriots 1 15 0 .063 1–7 1–11 181 446 L14
AFC Central
(3) Cincinnati Bengals 9 7 0 .563 5–1 8–4 360 352 W2
(6) Houston Oilers 9 7 0 .563 4–2 8–4 405 307 W1
Pittsburgh Steelers 9 7 0 .563 2–4 6–6 292 240 L1
Cleveland Browns 3 13 0 .188 1–5 2–10 231 462 L2
AFC West
(2) Los Angeles Raiders 12 4 0 .750 6–2 9–3 337 268 W5
(5) Kansas City Chiefs 11 5 0 .688 5–3 7–5 369 257 W2
Seattle Seahawks 9 7 0 .563 4–4 7–5 306 286 W2
San Diego Chargers 6 10 0 .375 2–6 5–9 315 281 L3
Denver Broncos 5 11 0 .313 3–5 4–8 331 374 W1
NFC East
(2) New York Giants 13 3 0 .813 7–1 10–2 335 211 W2
(4) Philadelphia Eagles 10 6 0 .625 5–3 9–3 396 299 W3
(5) Washington Redskins 10 6 0 .625 4–4 7–5 381 301 W1
Dallas Cowboys 7 9 0 .438 2–6 6–8 244 308 L2
Phoenix Cardinals 5 11 0 .313 2–6 3–9 268 396 L3
NFC Central
(3) Chicago Bears 11 5 0 .688 6–2 9–3 348 280 L1
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6 10 0 .375 5–3 6–8 264 367 L2
Detroit Lions 6 10 0 .375 3–5 5–7 373 413 L1
Green Bay Packers 6 10 0 .375 3–5 5–7 271 347 L5
Minnesota Vikings 6 10 0 .375 3–5 4–8 351 326 L4
NFC West
(1) San Francisco 49ers 14 2 0 .875 4–2 10–2 353 239 W1
(6) New Orleans Saints 8 8 0 .500 4–2 6–6 274 275 W2
Los Angeles Rams 5 11 0 .313 2–4 3–9 345 412 L4
Atlanta Falcons 5 11 0 .313 2–4 3–9 348 365 W2


  • Cincinnati finished ahead of Houston and Pittsburgh in the AFC Central based on best head-to-head record (3–1 to Oilers’ 2–2 to Steelers” 1–3).
  • Houston was the third AFC Wild Card based on better conference record (8–4) than Seattle (7–5) and Pittsburgh (6–6).
  • Philadelphia finished ahead of Washington in the NFC East based on better division record (5–3 to Redskins’ 4–4).
  • Tampa Bay was second in NFC Central based on best head-to-head record (5–1) against Detroit (2–4), Green Bay (3–3), and Minnesota (2–4).
  • Detroit finished third in the NFC Central based on best net division points (minus 8) against Green Bay (minus 40).
  • Green Bay finished ahead of Minnesota in the NFC Central based on better conference record (5–7 to Vikings’ 4–8).
  • The L.A. Rams finished ahead of Atlanta in the NFC West based on net points in division (plus 1 to Falcons’ minus 31).


Jan. 6 – Riverfront Stadium   Jan. 13 – Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum          
  6   Houston   14
  3   Cincinnati   10
  3   Cincinnati   41     Jan. 20 – Rich Stadium
  2   LA Raiders   20  
Jan. 5 – Joe Robbie Stadium   2   LA Raiders   3
Jan. 12 – Rich Stadium
    1   Buffalo   51  
  5   Kansas City   16 AFC Championship
  4   Miami   34
  4   Miami   17   Jan. 27 – Tampa Stadium
  1   Buffalo   44  
Wild card playoffs  
Divisional playoffs
Jan. 6 – Soldier Field  A1   Buffalo   19
Jan. 13 – Giants Stadium
   N2   NY Giants   20
  6   New Orleans   6 Super Bowl XXV
  3   Chicago   3
  3   Chicago   16     Jan. 20 – Candlestick Park
  2   NY Giants   31  
Jan. 5 – Veterans Stadium   2   NY Giants   15
Jan. 12 – Candlestick Park
    1   San Francisco   13  
  5   Washington   20 NFC Championship
  5   Washington   10
  4   Philadelphia   6  
  1   San Francisco   28  

Coaching changes



Statistical leaders


Points scored Buffalo Bills (428)
Total yards gained Houston Oilers (6,222)
Yards rushing Philadelphia Eagles (2,556)
Yards passing Houston Oilers (4,805)
Fewest points allowed New York Giants (211)
Fewest total yards allowed Pittsburgh Steelers (4,115)
Fewest rushing yards allowed Philadelphia Eagles (1,169)
Fewest passing yards allowed Pittsburgh Steelers (2,500)


Most Valuable Player Joe Montana, Quarterback, San Francisco
Coach of the Year Jimmy Johnson, Dallas
Offensive Player of the Year Warren Moon, Quarterback, Houston Oilers
Defensive Player of the Year Bruce Smith, Defensive End, Buffalo
Offensive Rookie of the Year Emmitt Smith, Running Back, Dallas
Defensive Rookie of the Year Mark Carrier, Safety, Chicago
NFL Man of the Year Mike Singletary, Linebacker, Chicago
NFL Comeback Player of the Year Barry Word, Running Back, Kansas City
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Ottis Anderson, Running Back, NY Giants

Notable events

  • For the first time in NFL history, two teams (the 49ers and the Giants) would start the season 10–0.[9] This would not be equalled until 2009 when the Colts and the Saints both reached 13–0, and was also equalled in 2015 by the Panthers and Patriots.


The 1990 NFL Draft was held from April 22 to 23, 1990 at New York City's Marriott Marquis. With the first pick, the Indianapolis Colts selected quarterback Jeff George from the University of Illinois.


  1. ^ "NFL History by Decade: 1981–1990". NFL.com. Archived from the original on October 6, 2008. Retrieved October 18, 2008.
  2. ^ Services, From Times Wire (December 20, 1990). "THE SIDELINES : U.S. Flag to Grace NFL Helmets". Archived from the original on May 21, 2013. Retrieved May 5, 2018 – via LA Times.
  3. ^ "Illness-shortened careers". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. November 12, 1991. p. D12.
  4. ^ "NFL referee Jorgensen dies". UPI. (archives). October 10, 1990. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
  5. ^ Brulia, Tim. "NFL game officials uniforms: 1990". Gridiron Uniform Database. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
  6. ^ "NFL ref says his age reason for demotion". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). Associated Press. September 5, 1990. p. D2.
  7. ^ "Former Referee Suing NFL" The Record (New Jersey) July 26, 1991, pp. D3
  8. ^ "NFL Pays $165,000 To Ex-Ref: Age Discrimination Suit Finally Settled" Rocky Mountain News January 6, 1993, pp. 58
  9. ^ Belock, Joe; ‘Sweet 16: Patriots and Panthers join ranks of NFL teams to begin season 10-0 ’; New York Daily News, November 24, 2015
  • NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
  • NFL History 1981–1990 (Last accessed December 8, 2007)
  • Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
1990 Seattle Seahawks season

The 1990 Seattle Seahawks season was the team's 15th season with the National Football League. The team improved on its 7-9 record from 1989, finishing 9-7. Despite the winning record, the Seahawks missed the postseason. Seattle would start the season 0-3 before abandoning the Run and Shoot Offense installed before the season and returning to the “Ground Chuck” Offense. Upon becoming a “run first” offense once again Running Back Derrick Fenner led the AFC in Rushing and Total Touchdowns with 14 (tied with Los Angeles Rams Running Back Cleveland Gary) and finishing second in the NFL in Total Touchdowns (leading the AFC in that category) with 15 (one behind Detroit Lions Running Back Barry Sanders 16 Total Touchdowns) The return to “Ground Chuck” led to them upsetting the Cincinnati Bengals at home on Monday Night Football 31-16 to pick up their first win of the season. After they traded wins and losses in their next 5 games, Seattle would win 3 straight to sit at 7-6. However, a loss to the Dolphins in Miami hurt the Seahawks hopes for a playoff berth. They won their final 2 games of the season against the Broncos and Lions to finish at 9-7 but were eliminated after the Houston Oilers (led by backup QB Cody Carlson subbing for an injured Warren Moon) defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers on the final Sunday Night Football game of 1990 due to conference record tiebreakers. The Oilers win sent Houston and the Cincinnati Bengals to the playoffs while a Pittsburgh win would’ve sent the Seahawks and Steelers to the postseason. This was the closest Seattle came to returning to the playoffs until missing them by a game in 1998 and was the last winning season by a Seattle team until their 1999 AFC West Championship team that also finished 9-7. Seattle Would bottom out at 2-14 two seasons later before becoming known as an also ran for the better part of the rest of the decade known by some players and fans as the “Forever 8 and 8 Era” where Seattle finished at or a game below .500 throughout Dennis Erickson's tenure.

This was the first Seahawks season without original member Steve Largent, who retired at the end of the previous season. This season is also notable for Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas sacking Seahawks quarterback Dave Krieg an NFL record 7 times in a single game. Despite this the Seahawks managed to pull out the win when Krieg broke free of what would have been another Thomas sack to throw the game winning touchdown to receiver Paul Skansi.

Seattle's 1990 NFL Draft is notable in that they not only acquired a future Pro-Football Hall of Famer in Cortez Kennedy but they grabbed multiple time ProBowl RB Chris Warren in the 4th Round. Warren would play in Seattle until the end of the 1997 Season becoming Seattle's All-Time Leading Rusher on his final carry as a Seahawk passing Seahawks Ring of Honor Member Curt Warner with 6,706 to Warner's 6,705 (since broken by Shaun Alexander's 9,429 Rushing Yards as a Seahawk.). As well as ProBowl Defensive Back Robert Blackmon and Defensive mainstay Terry Wooden. Next to the 1997 NFL Draft where the Seahawks netted HoFer Walter Jones and multiple time ProBowler Shawn Springs and the 2012 NFL Draft where Seattle acquired Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson this is considered one of best drafts in Seattle history in terms of leaguewide impact players and career honors and accolades. Kennedy would become the first player drafted by the Seahawks to make the Hall of Fame as Steve Largent was taken by the Houston Oilers in the 1976 NFL Draft never playing a down for them before joining Seattle in its Expansion Season of 1976.

Chuckie Miller

Charles Elliot "Chuckie" Miller (born May 9, 1965) is a former American football defensive back who played in the National Football League for the Indianapolis Colts during the 1988 - 1990 NFL season after being drafted in the 1987 NFL Draft by them in the eighth round with the 200th overall selection. Leonard Russell, 1991 NFL Offensive Rookie Of The Year, is his cousin. Donovan Warren is his nephew. Miller played high school football at Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, California and college football for the UCLA Bruins football team.

Clarksburg, California

For the community formerly of this name in El Dorado County, see Clarksville, California.Clarksburg (formerly, Clarksburgh) is a census-designated place in Yolo County, California. It is located on the Sacramento River, in the extreme southeastern corner of the county. It lies at an elevation of 10 feet (3 m) in ZIP code 95612 and area code 916.

Don Mosebar

Donald Howard Mosebar (born September 11, 1961) is a former American college and professional football player who was a Center in the National Football League (NFL) for thirteen seasons during the 1980s and 1990s. He played college football for the University of Southern California, and earned All-American honors. Mosebar was selected in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft, and played professionally for the NFL's Los Angeles Raiders.

Eric Green (tight end)

Bernard Eric Green (born June 22, 1967 in Savannah, Georgia) is a former professional American football player who was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1st round (21st overall) of the 1990 NFL Draft. Green was a two-time Pro Bowl selection for the Steelers in 1993 and 1994.

Gerald Austin

Dr. Gerald "Gerry" Austin (born December 4, 1941) is a retired American football official, who worked in the National Football League (NFL) from the 1982 season through the 2007 season. He wore uniform number 34, which is now worn by Clete Blakeman. Austin has officiated in three Super Bowls, one as a side judge and two as a referee. He was also notable being the referee in the 1993 AFC Wild Card playoff game between the Houston Oilers and Buffalo Bills, which would later become known in NFL lore as "The Comeback" for being the greatest comeback by a team in league history. Austin's 2007 NFL officiating crew consisted of Ruben Fowler, Ed Camp, Carl Johnson, Scott Edwards, Alberto Riveron and Bob Lawing.

Greg McMurtry

Gregory "Greg" Wendell McMurtry (born October 15, 1967) is a former American football player. He played college football as a wide receiver for the University of Michigan from 1986 to 1989. He caught 111 passes for 2,163 yards and 15 touchdowns for Michigan. He also played professional football as a wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL) for the New England Patriots from 1990 to 1993 and for the Chicago Bears in 1994. He caught 128 passes for 1,631 yards in 67 NFL games.

Jerry Seeman

Jerry T. Seeman (March 11, 1936 − November 24, 2013) was an American football official in the National Football League (NFL) from 1975 to 1990 and was the NFL's Senior Director of Officiating from 1991 to 2001, succeeding Art McNally. In his 16 seasons in the NFL, Seeman was selected to officiate in 15 playoff games including two Pro Bowls, and two Super Bowls: XXIII in 1989 and XXV in 1991, and was an alternate referee for Super Bowl XIV in 1980. He wore uniform number 70 for the majority of his career (wearing number 17 during the 1979−81 seasons when officials were numbered by position), which was retired eight months after his death. It was the first time ever the NFL had retired an official's uniform number.

Jim Shofner

James Bernard Shofner (born December 18, 1935) is a former American football player and coach at both the collegiate and professional levels. He was twice a head coach: first at Texas Christian University (TCU) from 1974 to 1976, then in an interim capacity with the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL) in 1990.

Jim Tunney (American football)

Jim Tunney (born March 3, 1929) is a former American football official in the National Football League (NFL) from 1960 to 1990. In his 31 years as an NFL official, Tunney received a record 29 post-season assignments, including ten Championship games and Super Bowls VI, XI, and XII and named as an alternate in Super Bowl XVIII. He is still the only referee who has worked consecutive Super Bowls, and likely will be the only one to do so.

John Madden Football (1990 video game)

John Madden Football is a football video game, the second Madden football game released by Electronic Arts.


KCFX (101.1 FM, "101 The Fox") is a radio station broadcasting a classic rock format. Licensed to the suburb of Harrisonville, Missouri, it serves the Kansas City Metropolitan Area. It first began broadcasting under the call sign KRYP. The station is currently owned by Cumulus Media. The station's studios are located in Mission, Kansas, and the transmitter is in the city's East Side.

Lester Brinkley

Lester L. Brinkley (born May 13, 1965 in Ruleville, Mississippi – July 7, 2002) was an American football defensive end in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys for the 1990 NFL season. He played college football at the University of Mississippi.

List of Monday Night Football results (1990–2009)

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 1970–2005, 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 1990 to 2009.

Mike Pringle (Canadian football)

Michael A. Pringle (born October 1, 1967) is an American former professional gridiron football player. A running back, he had a successful career in the Canadian Football League (CFL), during which he set or tied almost every significant league records for the position. He played college football for the California State University, Fullerton Titans and was twice signed by National Football League (NFL) teams, though he never played a game in the NFL.

Along with George Reed and Johnny Bright, Pringle is one of the players most often mentioned as being the greatest running back in CFL history. In November 2006, Pringle was voted one of the CFL's Top 50 players (#4) of the league's modern era by Canadian sports network TSN. In April 2008, Pringle was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Resting the starters

Resting the starters is the substitution of regular players on a sports team with backup players, and it occurs when a team has clinched at least a playoff berth, often its division, and in many case home advantage, and no further regular season losses would hurt the team in the standings (or, inversely, if the team has been eliminated from postseason contention and has nothing further to gain by playing). This enables the team to avoid risking injury to the starters, and to give real life playing practice to backup players.Veteran starters are also frequently rested in the final preseason games in order to get them ready for the early part of the season.Also, starters are sometimes rested during a game during garbage time when the outcome is mostly certain. While usually garbage time takes place toward the end of the fourth quarter of a game, in games where there is such a vast difference in talent and the winning team very quickly gains a large lead, the starters will be removed from the game early -- sometimes well before the end of the first half -- and the second- and lower-string players will play the remainder of the contest. As such, the starters play long enough only to gain a significant lead, and giving the reserves extended playing time.

Tom White (American football official)

Tom White was an American football official in the United States Football League from 1983-1986 and then National Football League (NFL) for seventeen seasons from the 1989 to 2005 seasons. He started in the league as a head linesman and was promoted to referee with the start of the 1990 NFL season. He wore uniform number 123. He is also an alumnus of the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity.

White was once referred to as Alfred Hitchcock for facial similarities by former ABC Sports color commentator Dennis Miller during a Monday Night Football game.White was fined half a game check ($2,600) by the NFL for an administrative error made by his officiating crew in a 2003 regular season game between the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks. They refused to restart the 40-second clock after an officials' conference over a penalty call with 58 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Baltimore was able to save its last timeout as a result, using the 40 seconds to tie the game. Baltimore eventually won in overtime, by the score of 44 to 41.

Tony Martin (American football)

Tony Derrick Martin (born September 5, 1965), is a former professional American football player who was selected by the New York Jets in the 5th round of the 1989 NFL Draft. A 6'1", 177-lb. wide receiver from Mesa State College.

William Harris (American football)

William Harris was a tight end in the National Football League.

1990 NFL season
Early era
Modern era

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