1996 NFL season

1996 NFL season

Infobox NFL
year = 1996
NFLchampion = Green Bay Packers
regular_season = September 1 1996 - December 23 1996
playoffs_start = December 28 1996
AFCchampion = New England Patriots
NFCchampion = Green Bay Packers
sb_name = XXXI
sb_date = January 26 1997
sb_site = Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
pb_date = February 2 1997

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.

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 4th of 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.

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 an domination era 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.

The season ended with Super Bowl XXXI when the Green Bay Packers defeated the New England Patriots in a close game decided by the special teams in the return game a kick-off return was scored against the Patriots resulting in the award of the games MVP trophy to a special teams member, Desmond Howard, for the first and only time (as of 2008).

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 lead to the league awarding the Patriots multiple draft picks in compensation for the "tampering" by the Jets [citebook|title=Patriots Reign|ISBN=006757949|author=Michael Holly|published=2004|publisher=HarperCollins|edition=1st ed. HC|pages=240|page=] , which is but a continuation of oneupsmanship that has gone on for years between the hated rivals.

1996 NFL Season Changes

New Orleans Saints - New numbers on uniforms. On home uniform old gold numbers with white trim. And road uniforms old gold numbers with black trim.

Philadelphia Eagles - New Logo. New uniforms, with Midnight green color.

Dallas Cowboys - New Color road uniforms.

Baltimore Ravens - New team in new city. Formerly the Cleveland Browns.

San Francisco 49ers - New uniforms. 50th season logo on uniform.

Minnesota Vikings - Changes in uniforms. Vikings logo on sleeve ends of home uniforms. Added yellow trim to numbers.

1996 NFL Coaching Changes

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Tony Dungy new head coach. Replaced Sam Wyche who was fired after the 1995 season.

Miami Dolphins - Jimmy Johnson new head coach. Replace Don Shula who retire after the 95 season.

Indianapolis Colts - Lindy Infante new head coach. Replace Ted Marchibroda who was offer a job to the Baltimore Ravens.

Cincinnati Bengals - Dave Shula was fired by mid season and was replace by interim head coach Bruce Coslet.

New Orleans Saints - Jim Mora was fired by mid season and was replace by interim head coach.

Baltimore Ravens - Ted Marchibroda new head coach. Replace Bill Bellichick who was fired in the 1995 season in the Cleveland Browns era.

Major rule changes

*In order to reduce injuries, hits with the helmet or to the head will be personal fouls and subject to fines.

Final regular season standings

"W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT = Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against"

"Clinched playoff seeds are marked in parentheses and shaded in green"




* "NFL Record and Fact Book" (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
* [http://www.nfl.com/history/chronology/1991-2000 NFL History 1991-2000] (Last accessed October 17, 2005)
* [http://nflhistory.net/linescores/pdf/1996.pdf 1996 season in details]
* "Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League" (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
* [http://www.steelersfever.com/nfl_history_of_rules.html Steelers Fever - History of NFL Rules] (Last accessed October 17, 2005)


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