The league went back to an even number of teams, expanding to 32 teams with the addition of the Houston Texans. The clubs were then realigned into eight divisions, four teams in each. Also, the Chicago Bears played their home games in 2002 in Champaign, Illinois at Memorial Stadium because of the reconstruction of Soldier Field.
|2002 National Football League season|
|Duration||September 5 – December 30, 2002|
|Start date||January 4, 2003|
|AFC Champions||Oakland Raiders|
|NFC Champions||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Super Bowl XXXVII|
|Date||January 26, 2003|
|Site||Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California|
|Champions||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Date||February 2, 2003|
With the Houston Texans joining the NFL, the league's teams were realigned into eight divisions: four teams in each division and four divisions in each conference. In creating the new divisions, the league tried to maintain the historical rivalries from the old alignment, while at the same time attempting to organize the teams geographically. Legally, three teams from the AFC Central (Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh) were required to be in the same division as part of any realignment proposals; this was part of the NFL’s settlement with the city of Cleveland in the wake of the 1995 Cleveland Browns relocation controversy.
Additionally, the arrival of the Texans meant that the league could return to its pre-1999 scheduling format in which no team received a bye during the first two weeks or last seven weeks of the season. From 1999 to 2001, at least one team sat out each week (including the preseason) because of an odd number of teams in the league (this also happened in 1960, 1966, and other years wherein the league had an odd number of teams). It nearly became problematic during the previous season due to the September 11 attacks, since the San Diego Chargers had their bye week during the week following 9/11 and the league nearly outright canceled that week’s slate of games.
The league also introduced a new eight-year scheduling rotation designed so that all teams will play each other at least twice during those eight years, and play in every other team’s stadium at least once. Under scheduling formulas in use from 1978 to 2001, two teams in different divisions might never play each other for over fifteen seasons.[note 1] Under the new scheduling formula, only two of a team’s games each season are based on the previous season’s record, down from four under the previous system. All teams play four interconference games. An analysis of win percentages in 2008 showed a statistical trend upwards for top teams since this change; the top team each year then averaged 14.2 wins, versus 13.4 previously.
The playoff format was also modified: four division winners and two wild cards from each conference now advance to the playoffs, instead of three division winners and three wild cards. In each conference, the division winners are now seeded 1 through 4, and the wild cards are seeded 5 and 6. In the current system, the only way a wild card team can host a playoff game is if both teams in the conference’s championship game are wild cards. However, the number of playoff teams still remains at 12, where it has been since 1990.
Reebok took over the contract to be the official athletic supplier to the NFL for all 32 teams’ uniforms. Previously, all teams had individual contracts with athletic suppliers. American Needle, which had a contract with a few teams before the Reebok deal, challenged the NFL in court over Reebok’s exclusive deal, with the NFL effectively stating that it was a “single-entity league” instead of a group consisting of various owners. The case eventually went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. In 2009, the Supreme Court agreed to hear American Needle, Inc. v. National Football League. In 2010, the court ruled that the NFL is not a single entity. The legality of the NFL's exclusive contract with Reebok is still in question by the lower courts as of October 2010. Reebok remained the league's athletic supplier through the 2011 NFL season, when Nike took over the contract for the 2012 NFL season.
Reebok had initially announced when the deal was signed in 2000 that aside from the expansion Texans, all NFL teams would be wearing new uniforms for the 2002 season. However, after protests from several owners—most vocally Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney—Reebok later rescinded the proposal. Reebok did, however (by player request to reduce holding calls), shorten the sleeves on the jerseys for teams that hadn’t done so already (most players had been for the previous decade tying the sleeves tight around their arms to prevent holding) and made the jerseys tighter-fitting. This is perhaps most noticeable on the Indianapolis Colts jerseys, where the shoulder stripes, which initially went from the top of the shoulders all the way underneath the arms, were truncated to just the top portion of the shoulders.
Although Reebok rescinded the idea of all NFL teams wearing new uniforms for the 2002 season, the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks did redesign their uniforms, with the Seahawks also unveiling an updated logo in honor of their move to Qwest Field and the NFC.
Specific uniform changes by team included:
Within each conference, the four division winners and the two wild card teams (the top two non-division winners with the best overall regular season records) qualified for the playoffs. The four division winners are seeded 1 through 4 based on their overall won-lost-tied record, and the wild card teams are seeded 5 and 6. The NFL does not use a fixed bracket playoff system, and there are no restrictions regarding teams from the same division matching up in any round. In the first round, dubbed the wild-card playoffs or wild-card weekend, the third-seeded division winner hosts the sixth seed wild card, and the fourth seed hosts the fifth. The 1 and 2 seeds from each conference then receive a bye in the first round. In the second round, the divisional playoffs, the number 1 seed hosts the worst surviving seed from the first round (seed 4, 5 or 6), while the number 2 seed will play the other team (seed 3, 4 or 5). The two surviving teams from each conference's divisional playoff games then meet in the respective AFC and NFC Conference Championship games, hosted by the higher seed. Although the Super Bowl, the fourth and final round of the playoffs, is played at a neutral site, the designated home team is based on an annual rotation by conference.
|1||Oakland Raiders (West winner)||Philadelphia Eagles (East winner)|
|2||Tennessee Titans (South winner)||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (South winner)|
|3||Pittsburgh Steelers (North winner)||Green Bay Packers (North winner)|
|4||New York Jets (East winner)||San Francisco 49ers (West winner)|
|5||Indianapolis Colts (wild card)||New York Giants (wild card)|
|6||Cleveland Browns (wild card)||Atlanta Falcons (wild card)|
|Jan. 5 – Heinz Field||Jan. 11 – The Coliseum|
|3||Pittsburgh||36||Jan. 19 – Network Associates Coliseum|
|Jan. 4 – Giants Stadium||2||Tennessee||24|
|Jan. 12 – Network Associates Coliseum|
|4||NY Jets||41||Jan. 26 – Qualcomm Stadium|
|Wild card playoffs|
|Jan. 5 – Candlestick Park||A1||Oakland||21|
|Jan. 12 – Raymond James Stadium|
|5||NY Giants||38||Super Bowl XXXVII|
|4||San Francisco||39||Jan. 19 – Veterans Stadium|
|Jan. 4 – Lambeau Field||2||Tampa Bay||27|
|Jan. 11 – Veterans Stadium|
The following teams and players set all-time NFL records during the season:
|Record||Player/Team||Date/Opponent||Previous Record Holder|
|Most Pass Receptions, Season||Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (143)||December 29, vs. Jacksonville||Herman Moore, Detroit, 1995 (123)|
|Longest Return of a Missed Field Goal||Chris McAlister, Baltimore (107 yards)||September 30, vs. Denver||Aaron Glenn, N.Y. Jets vs. Indianapolis, November 15, 1998 (104)|
|Yards From Scrimmage, Career||Jerry Rice, Oakland (21,284)||September 29, vs. Tennessee||Walter Payton, 1975–1987 (21,264)|
|Most Rushing Yards Gained, Career||Emmitt Smith, Dallas||October 27, vs. Seattle||Walter Payton, 1975–1987 (16,726)|
|Most Rushing Yards by a Quarterback, Game||Michael Vick, Atlanta (173)||December 1 vs. Minnesota||Tobin Rote, Green Bay vs. Chicago, November 18, 1951 (150)|
|Most First Downs by Both Teams, Game||Seattle (32) vs. Kansas City (32) [64 total]||November 24||Tied by 2 games (62 total)|
|Fewest Fumbles by a Team, Season||Kansas City (7)||N/A||Cleveland, 1959 (8)|
|Fewest Fumbles Lost by a Team, Season||Kansas City (2)||N/A||Tied by 2 teams (3)|
|Most Punts by a Team, Season||Houston (116)||N/A||Chicago, 1981 (114)|
|Points scored||Kansas City Chiefs (467)|
|Total yards gained||Oakland Raiders (6,237)|
|Yards rushing||Minnesota Vikings (2,507)|
|Yards passing||Oakland Raiders (4,475)|
|Fewest points allowed||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (196)|
|Fewest total yards allowed||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4,044)|
|Fewest rushing yards allowed||Pittsburgh Steelers (1,375)|
|Fewest passing yards allowed||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2,490)|
|Scoring||Priest Holmes, Kansas City (144 points)|
|Touchdowns||Priest Holmes, Kansas City (24 TDs)|
|Most field goals made||Martin Gramatica, Tampa Bay (32 FGs)|
|Rushing||Ricky Williams, Miami (1,853 yards)|
|Passing||Chad Pennington, New York Jets (104.2 rating)|
|Passing touchdowns||Tom Brady, New England (28 TDs)|
|Pass receiving||Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (143 catches)|
|Pass receiving yards||Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (1,722)|
|Punt returns||Jimmy Williams, San Francisco (16.8 average yards)|
|Kickoff returns||MarTay Jenkins, Arizona (28.0 average yards)|
|Interceptions||Brian Kelly, Tampa Bay (8)|
|Punting||Todd Sauerbrun, Carolina (45.5 average yards)|
|Sacks||Jason Taylor, Miami (18.5)|
|Most Valuable Player||Rich Gannon, Quarterback, Oakland|
|Coach of the Year||Andy Reid, Philadelphia|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Priest Holmes, Running back, Kansas City|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Derrick Brooks, Linebacker, Tampa Bay|
|Offensive Rookie of the Year||Clinton Portis, Running Back, Denver|
|Defensive Rookie of the Year||Julius Peppers, Defensive End, Carolina|
|NFL Comeback Player of the Year||Tommy Maddox, Quarterback, Pittsburgh|
|Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year||Troy Vincent, Cornerback, Philadelphia|
|Super Bowl Most Valuable Player||Dexter Jackson, Safety, Tampa Bay|
The 2002 NFL Draft was held from April 20 to 21, 2002 at New York City's Theater at Madison Square Garden. With the first pick, the Houston Texans selected quarterback David Carr from Fresno State University.
The 2002 Seattle Seahawks season was the franchise's 27th season in the National Football League, The first season in Qwest Field and the fourth under head coach Mike Holmgren. The Seahawks returned to the NFC West for the first time since their inaugural season of 1976 and opened their new stadium, Seahawks Stadium, on the site of their former stadium, the Kingdome.AFC North
The American Football Conference – Northern Division or AFC North is one of the four divisions of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The division was adopted after the restructuring of the 2002 NFL season, when the league realigned divisions after expanding to 32 teams.Alvis Whitted
Alvis James Whitted (born September 4, 1974) is a former American football wide receiver, currently the wide receivers coach for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL).D. J. Humphries (wide receiver)
Dierrias J. Humphries, Sr. (born December 19, 1978) is a former American football wide receiver. Undrafted in 2002, Humphries was signed by Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent, spending the 2002 NFL season on their roster. He then went on to play for the Arena Football League's Carolina Cobras.A native of Union, South Carolina, Humphries was a letterman in football and basketball at Union County High School. He then player both sports at Presbyterian College.His son, D. J. Humphries, is currently an offensive tackle for the Arizona Cardinals.Damon Gibson
Damon O'Keith Gibson is a former professional football player of the National Football League. He played four years in the league, 1998 with the Cincinnati Bengals 1999 NFL season with the Cleveland Browns 2001 with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the 2002 NFL season with both Jacksonville Jaguars & Atlanta Falcons. He was released by the Jaguars two days after he fumbled a punt return that led to the Indianapolis Colts winning by 3 points. He played for the Los Angeles Xtreme in the XFL in 2001.He was used primarily on special teams, as he had a 65-yard touchdown return in his first game for the Bengals. He had 218 punt return yards on 27 returns in his rookie year.Eugene McCaslin
Eugene William McCaslin, Jr. (born July 12, 1977) is an American former college and professional football player who was a linebacker in the National Football League (NFL) for a single season. He played college football for the University of Florida. He was drafted late in the seventh round of the 2000 NFL Draft, and played professionally for the NFL's Green Bay Packers.Greg Meyer (American football official)
Greg Meyer is an American football official in the National Football League (NFL) since the 2002 NFL season. He wears uniform number 78. A graduate of Texas Christian University, he began his football officiating career in 1995 at the collegiate level, including at least three different bowl games. Seven years later, he joined the NFL officiating staff as a field judge, and the following year, he became a side judge, and has been at that position until 2016, when he became a back judge. He officiated a few NFL post-season games, including Super Bowl XLIV in Miami.Meyer, who lives in Fort Worth, Texas, has a wife, Debby, a daughter, Morgan, and a son, Reid. Outside of the NFL, Meyer is a banker.For the 2017 NFL season, Meyer will serve on the officiating crew headed by Bill Vinovich.Jason Moore (American football)
Jason Dwayne Moore (born January 15, 1976) is a former safety in the National Football League. He was born and grew up in San Bernardino, CA. Jason attended Pacific High School from 1990 to 1994. There he lettered in track, baseball and football. He helped Pacific become Divisional Champions in baseball and football. Jason earned a scholarship for football at San Diego State University.
At SDSU, he earned a Bachelors of Arts degree in Criminal Justice and a minor in Sociology. Jason became an All-Western Athletic Conference Safety at SDSU. He graduated in 1998 and finished 2nd all time in interceptions (13) and tackles (328). Jason finished 3rd all time in interception return yards (237).
Jason played his first NFL season with the Denver Broncos. His 2nd season was split between the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers. He played a season in NFL Europe with the Barcelona Dragons. After returning from overseas, he joined the 49ers for the 2002 NFL season.
Jason is married to Jacqueline and has 2 children, Jalen and Jordyn.Joe Hamilton (American football)
Joseph Fitzgerald Hamilton (born March 13, 1977) is a former American college and professional football player who was a quarterback in three different professional leagues. He played college football for the Georgia Institute of Technology, earned All-American recognition and won several national awards. After his playing career ended, Hamilton became an administrator and coach. He has served as the running backs coach for Georgia State University and currently works in the recruiting department for his alma mater, Georgia Tech.John Hussey (American football official)
John Hussey is an American football official in the National Football League (NFL), who works as a referee. He was hired in the 2002 NFL season as a line judge. Hussey wears uniform number 35.
Hussey officiated in Super Bowl XLV in 2011, the 2011 NFC Championship Game between the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants and the 2013 AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos, all as a line judge.Hussey was promoted to the referee position for the start of the 2015 NFL season following the retirement of referee Bill Leavy.His first NFL career game as referee in 2015 was on September 13 in Tampa Bay where he officiated the Tennessee Titans and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.Hussey was the referee in the Detroit Lions' 18-16 surprise victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI on November 15, 2015, their first in the state of Wisconsin since 1991.Hussey's 2018 NFL officiating crew consists of umpire Tony Michalek, down judge Kevin Codey, line judge Derick Bowers, field judge Don Willard, side judge Allen Baynes, back judge Greg Steed, replay official Terri Valenti, and replay assistant Jamie Nicholson.Outside the NFL, Hussey is a sales representative for a retail logistics group.Jon Runyan
Jon Daniel Runyan (born November 27, 1973) is an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 3rd congressional district from 2011 to 2015. He is a member of the Republican Party. Before entering politics, he was an American football offensive tackle in the National Football League, where he played for fourteen seasons. He was a participant in the 2003 Pro Bowl following the 2002 NFL season.
He was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the fourth round of the 1996 NFL Draft and later played for the Philadelphia Eagles and San Diego Chargers. Runyan was the last active NFL player to have played for the Oilers. He played college football at Michigan where he was a 1995 All-Big Ten Conference selection. In high school, he had been an All-State (Michigan) selection in basketball and two-time state champion shot putter.
On November 6, 2013, Runyan announced he would not seek reelection to Congress in 2014.On May 17, 2016, the NFL announced they hired Runyan as their Vice President of the Policy and Rules administration.Ken Lucas (American football)
Kenyatta Cornelius Lucas (born January 23, 1979) is a former American football cornerback. He was drafted by the Seahawks in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft. He played college football at Mississippi. In 2004 he was the NFC co-leader in interceptions.
Lucas has also played for the Carolina Panthers.List of Minnesota Vikings broadcasters
The Minnesota Vikings' flagship radio station is KFXN-FM. The games are also heard on the "Vikings Radio Network" in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota, as well as many other outlets. Paul Allen has been the play-by-play announcer since the 2002 NFL season and Pete Bercich is the analyst, who began his first season in 2007.
WCCO was the flagship station from 1961-1969. Dick Enroth was the original announcer, succeeded by Ray Christensen. KSTP (AM) held the rights from 1970-1975. WCCO again from 1976-1984. KSTP (FM) 1985-1987. WCCO 1988-1990. KFAN 1991-1995. WCCO 1996-2000. KFAN(KFXN-FM) since 2001.
After Jim Morse called the 1970 games, Joe McConnell was the radio play by play announcer 1971-76, 1985-87. Joe Starkey was the radio play by play announcer 1977. Ray Scott was the radio play by play announcer 1978-82. Tim Moreland was the radio play by play announcer 1983-84. Brad Nessler was the radio play by play announcer 1988-89. John Carlson was the play by play announcer 1990. Dan Rowe was the radio play by play announcer 1991-2000. Terry Stembridge, Jr. was the radio play by play announcer 2001.
Telecasts of preseason games not shown on national networks are aired on KMSP-TV (Channel 9) in the Twin Cities with Paul Allen doing play-by-play as well.Mark Fields (American football)
Mark Anthony Fields (born November 9, 1972) is a former American football linebacker of the National Football League.Michael Huff
Michael Wayne Huff, II (born March 6, 1983) is a former American football safety. He last played for the Denver Broncos of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the University of Texas, and was recognized as a consensus All-American and the top college defensive back. He was drafted by the Oakland Raiders with the seventh overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, and has played for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos.Mike Weir (American football official)
Mike Weir is a retired American football official who officiated in the National Football League (NFL) from the 2002 NFL season through the 2013 NFL season. His uniform number was 50. He was the field judge on Mike Carey's officiating crew for the 2013 NFL season. He resides in Columbia, Missouri.
On May 22, 2014, Footballzebras.com announced that Weir won't return to the field for the 2014 NFL season.NFC South
The National Football Conference – Southern Division or NFC South is one of the four divisions of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). It was created prior to the 2002 NFL season, when the league realigned divisions after expanding to 32 teams. The NFC South currently has four member clubs: the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Prior to the 2002 season, the Buccaneers belonged to the AFC West (1976) and NFC Central (1977–2001), while the other three teams were part of the geographically inaccurate NFC West. As a matter of fact, the South has more multiple-season members of the old NFC West than the current NFC West does (the Seattle Seahawks are in the current West, but they only played in that division during their inaugural season).
The NFC South is the only division since the 2002 realignment to have each of its teams make a conference championship game appearance as well as a Super Bowl appearance: Tampa Bay (2002), Atlanta (2004, 2012, and 2016), Carolina (2003, 2005 and 2015), and New Orleans (2006, 2009, and 2018). Also since 2002, each team has won at least three division titles, the only such division in the league. It is also the only NFL division to have zero division sweeps by any of its member teams.
Entering 2016, the Saints have the most wins among division members. The Saints record is 356–435–5; their win in Super Bowl XLIV is the highlight of an 8–9 playoff record. The Falcons record is 330–432–6 with a playoff record of 9–13; the Falcons lost in Super Bowls XXXIII and LI, the latter in overtime. The Buccaneers record is 241–386–1 with a victory in their only Super Bowl appearance, Super Bowl XXXVII, and an overall playoff record of 6–9. The Panthers have the best playoff record (9–8) of any team in the division with losses in Super Bowls XXXVIII and 50 and the best overall record in the division (166–169–1).
The NFC South is the only NFC division not to have any teams that predate the 1960 launch of the American Football League, the NFL’s former rival league. The oldest team is the Falcons, who began play in 1966, and the Saints began play only a year later in 1967. Each of the other NFC divisions has 3 teams that began play earlier than 1960, while the remaining three such teams are in the American Football Conference.
The NFC South became the second division in five years to have a champion with a losing record, as the 2014 Carolina Panthers won the division with a 7–8–1 record. (The 2010 Seattle Seahawks won the NFC West with a 7–9 record.) Additionally, Carolina became the first team to repeat as NFC South champions since the creation of the division. The Panthers are the only team to win the NFC South three consecutive times from 2013 to 2015. On January 7, 2018 two NFC South teams (Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints) met in the NFL playoffs for the first time since the division was created in 2002.Steelers–Titans rivalry
The Steelers–Titans rivalry is a National Football League rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans that dates back to the 1970s when the Steelers and then-Houston Oilers played in the AFC Central. The two teams were realigned into separate divisions for the 2002 NFL season, however matchups are still considered heated between the two teams.Steve McKinney
Stephen Michael McKinney (born October 15, 1975) is a former offensive guard in the National Football League. He was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth round of the 1998 NFL Draft. He played college football at Texas A&M.
He is the older brother of former NFL offensive lineman Seth McKinney.
2002 NFL season