1999 NFL season
|Duration||September 12, 1999 – January 3, 2000|
|Start date||January 8, 2000|
|AFC Champions||Tennessee Titans|
|NFC Champions||St. Louis Rams|
|Super Bowl XXXIV|
|Date||January 30, 2000|
|Site||Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia|
|Champions||St. Louis Rams|
|Date||February 6, 2000|
The 1999 NFL season was the 80th regular season of the National Football League. The Cleveland Browns returned to the field for the first time since the 1995 season, while the Tennessee Oilers changed their name to "Tennessee Titans," with the league retiring the name “Oilers.”
The return of the Browns increased the number of teams to 31, the first time the league had played with an odd number of teams since 1966. This required the NFL to give at least one team a bye each week; previously, barring extreme circumstances, a club never received a bye during the first two weeks or last seven weeks of the season.
Under a new system, for ten weeks of the season (Week #1, Week #2 and Week #10 to Week #17), one team received a bye, and for seven weeks of the season (Week #3 to Week #9), three teams received a bye. This format would continue until the Houston Texans joined the NFL in 2002, returning the league to an even number of teams.
The start of the 1999 NFL Season was pushed back one week and started the weekend after Labor Day, a change from the previous seasons: due to the Y2K concerns, the NFL did not want to hold the opening round of the playoffs on Saturday January 1, 2000, and did not want teams traveling on that day. This was also done to avoid competing against college football's New Years Day bowl games.
Week 17 games were held on January 2, 2000, and the opening round of the playoffs would be scheduled for January 8 and 9, with the bye week before the Super Bowl removed to accommodate the one-week adjustment. The start of the season after Labor Day would become a regular fixture for future seasons, beginning in 2001.
The final spot in the NFC playoffs came down to an exciting final day of the season. The Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers were both at 7–8, tied for the last spot in the playoffs with the Dallas Cowboys and tied in other tiebreakers. The Packers/Panthers tie would be broken by best net point differential in conference games. With both the Packers and Panthers playing at 1:00 PM Eastern on January 2, the two teams tried to outscore the other. The Packers beat the Arizona Cardinals 49–24, and the Panthers beat the New Orleans Saints 45–13, with the result that the Packers finished ahead of the Panthers by 11 points. Nevertheless, Dallas defeated the New York Giants later that night to claim the final playoff spot.
The St. Louis Rams, who have had losing records for each of the past nine seasons dating back to their first tenure in Los Angeles (and had finished in last place in their division the previous season), surprised the entire league by defeating the Tennessee Titans 23–16 in Super Bowl XXXIV at the Georgia Dome.
- On July 27, 1999, Barry Sanders announced he was retiring from pro football. His retirement was made public by faxing a letter to the Wichita Eagle, his hometown newspaper.
The 1999 NFL Draft was held from April 17 to 18, 1999 at New York City's Theater at Madison Square Garden. With the first pick, the Cleveland Browns selected quarterback Tim Couch from the University of Kentucky.
Held on February 9, 1999, 150 players were left unprotected by their teams for the Browns to select in the 1999 NFL expansion draft. With the first overall pick, the Browns selected Center Jim Pyne from the Detroit Lions.
Jerry Markbreit retired prior to the 1999 season. He joined the NFL in 1976 as a line judge before being promoted to the referee in just his second year. To date, he is the only NFL referee to officiate four Super Bowl games: Super Bowl XVII, Super Bowl XXI, Super Bowl XXVI, and Super Bowl XXIX. Jeff Triplette was promoted to referee to replace Markbreit.
Major rule changes
- Clipping became illegal around the line of scrimmage just as it was on the rest of the field.
- A new instant replay system (different from the one used from 1986 to 1991) is adopted to aid officiating. The system mirrors a method used by the defunct USFL in 1985:
- In each game, each team has two challenge flags that can be thrown to start an official review of the play in question. Each challenge will require the use of a team's timeout. If the challenge is successful, the timeout is restored.
- Inside of two minutes of each half, and during all overtime periods, all reviews will be initiated by a Replay Assistant. The Replay Assistant has an unlimited number of reviews, regardless of how many timeouts each team has left. And no timeout will be charged for any review by the Replay Assistant.
- All replay reviews will be conducted by the referee on a field-level monitor. A decision will be reversed only when there is indisputable visual evidence to overturn the call. The referee has 90 seconds to review the play.
- The officials will be notified of a replay request or challenge via a specialized electronic pager with a vibrating alert. Each head coach would also have a red flag to use as a backup to get the attention of the officials to challenge a play.
- The replay system will only cover the following situations:
- Scoring plays
- Pass complete/incomplete/intercepted
- Runner/receiver out of bounds
- Recovery of a loose ball in or out of bounds
- Touching of a forward pass, either by an ineligible receiver or a defensive player
- Quarterback pass or fumble
- Illegal forward pass
- Forward or backward pass
- Runner ruled not down by contact
- Forward progress in regard to a first down
- Touching of a kick
- Too many men on the field
The league also added the following then-minor rule change that became significant in the playoffs a few years later:
- When a Team A player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his hand starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body. Also, if the player has tucked the ball into his body and then loses possession, it is a fumble.
This new interpretation of a forward pass would later be commonly known as the “Tuck Rule”, and was repealed in 2013.
Pro Football Hall of Fame
- Walter Payton: Having retired as the NFL's All-Time Leading Rusher, Payton died on November 1, 1999 from a rare liver disease known as primary sclerosing cholangitis.
Highlights of the 1999 season included:
- Thanksgiving: Two games were played on Thursday, November 25, featuring Chicago at Detroit and Miami at Dallas, with Detroit and Dallas winning.
- Miami was the third AFC Wild Card ahead of Kansas City based on better record against common opponents (6–1 to Chiefs’ 5–3).
- N.Y. Jets finished ahead of New England in the AFC East based on better division record (4–4 to Patriots’ 2–6).
- Seattle finished ahead of Kansas City in the AFC West based on head-to-head sweep (2–0).
- San Diego finished ahead of Oakland in the AFC West based on better division record (5–3 to Raiders’ 3–5).
- Dallas was the second NFC Wild Card based on better record against common opponents (4–2 to Lions’ 3–3) and better conference record than Carolina (7–5 to Panthers’ 6–6).
- Detroit was the third NFC Wild Card based on better conference record than Green Bay (7–5 to Packers’ 6–6) and head-to-head victory over Carolina.
|Jan. 8 – FedExField||Jan. 15 – Raymond James Stadium|
|3||Washington||27||Jan. 23 – Trans World Dome|
|Jan. 9 – Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome||2||Tampa Bay||6|
|Jan. 16 – Trans World Dome|
|4||Minnesota||27||Jan. 30 – Georgia Dome|
|Wild Card playoffs|
|Jan. 8 – Adelphia Coliseum||N1||St. Louis||23|
|Jan. 16 – RCA Dome|
|5||Buffalo||16||Super Bowl XXXIV|
|4||Tennessee||22||Jan. 23 – Alltel Stadium|
|Jan. 9 – Kingdome||4||Tennessee||33|
|Jan. 15 – Alltel Stadium|
|Points scored||St. Louis Rams (526)|
|Total yards gained||St. Louis Rams (6,412)|
|Yards rushing||San Francisco 49ers (2,095)|
|Yards passing||St. Louis Rams (4,353)|
|Fewest points allowed||Jacksonville Jaguars (217)|
|Fewest total yards allowed||Buffalo Bills (4,045)|
|Fewest rushing yards allowed||St. Louis Rams (1,189)|
|Fewest passing yards allowed||Buffalo Bills (2,675)|
|Scoring||Mike Vanderjagt, Indianapolis (145 points)|
|Touchdowns||Stephen Davis, Washington and Edgerrin James, Indianapolis (17 TDs)|
|Most field goals made||Olindo Mare, Miami (39 FGs)|
|Rushing||Edgerrin James, Indianapolis (1,553 yards)|
|Passing||Kurt Warner, St. Louis (109.2 rating)|
|Passing touchdowns||Kurt Warner, St. Louis (41 TDs)|
|Pass receiving||Jimmy Smith, Jacksonville (116 catches)|
|Pass receiving yards||Marvin Harrison, Indianapolis (1,663)|
|Punt returns||Charlie Rogers, Seattle (14.5 average yards)|
|Kickoff returns||Tony Horne, St. Louis (29.7 average yards)|
|Interceptions||Rod Woodson, Baltimore; Sam Madison, Miami; James Hasty, Kansas City; Donnie Abraham, Tampa Bay; and Troy Vincent, Philadelphia (7)|
|Punting||Tom Rouen, Denver (46.5 average yards)|
|Sacks||Kevin Carter, St. Louis (17)|
|Most Valuable Player||Kurt Warner, Quarterback, St. Louis|
|Coach of the Year||Dick Vermeil, St. Louis|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Marshall Faulk, Running back, St. Louis|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Warren Sapp, Defensive Tackle, Tampa Bay|
|Offensive Rookie of the Year||Edgerrin James, Running Back, Indianapolis|
|Defensive Rookie of the Year||Jevon Kearse, Defensive End, Tennessee|
|NFL Comeback Player of the Year||Bryant Young, Defensive Tackle, San Francisco|
|Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year||Cris Carter, Wide Receiver, Minnesota|
|Super Bowl Most Valuable Player||Kurt Warner, Quarterback, St. Louis|
- Baltimore Ravens – Brian Billick; replaced Ted Marchibroda who was fired after the 1998 season.
- Carolina Panthers – George Seifert; replaced Dom Capers who was fired after the 1998 season.
- Chicago Bears – Dick Jauron; replaced Dave Wannstedt who was fired after the 1998 season.
- Cleveland Browns – Chris Palmer; hired before the season, first coach of revived Browns.
- Green Bay Packers – Ray Rhodes; replaced Mike Holmgren who resigned to become Head Coach and General Manager of the Seattle Seahawks.
- Kansas City Chiefs – Gunther Cunningham; replaced Marty Schottenheimer who resigned at the end of the 1998 season.
- Philadelphia Eagles – Andy Reid; replaced Ray Rhodes who was fired after the 1998 season.
- San Diego Chargers – Mike Riley; replaced interim head coach June Jones who replaced Kevin Gilbride during the 1998 season.
- Seattle Seahawks – Mike Holmgren; replaced Dennis Erickson who was fired after the 1998 season.
- Baltimore Ravens: Ravens Stadium at Camden Yards was renamed PSINet Stadium after the internet service provider PSINet acquired the naming rights
- Cleveland Browns: The reactivated Browns team moves into Cleveland Browns Stadium
- Tennessee Titans: The renamed Titans moved from Vanderbilt Stadium to Adelphia Coliseum, with the Adelphia Communications Corporation acquiring the naming rights
- Washington Redskins: Jack Kent Cooke Stadium was renamed FedExField after FedEx acquired the naming rights
- The Baltimore Ravens were forced to scrap their original helmet logo, a shield with raven wings displaying a letter "B", because of a trademark dispute. Their new helmet logo featured a purple raven's head with the letter "B" superimposed. The team introduced a new secondary shield logo with alternating Calvert and Crossland emblems similar to the flag of Maryland.
- The reactivated Cleveland Browns restored the team's classic design, but widened the pants stripes.
- The Detroit Lions returned to wearing silver instead of blue pants with their white jerseys
- The Philadelphia Eagles added black stripping on the sleeve ends on the green jerseys.
- The renamed Tennessee Titans unveiled new uniforms featuring navy and white jerseys, white helmets, and red trim. White pants were worn with the navy jerseys and navy pants with the white jerseys. The new helmet logo featured a circle with a letter "T" with a trail of flames.
- The New Orleans Saints switched from gold to black numbers on their white jerseys. They also began wearing black pants with their white jerseys.
- [ "The Cheap Seats: Finally, Sanders Speaks"] "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 16, 2007. Retrieved March 23, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link), December 3, 2003
- Pennington, Bill (January 16, 1999). "N.F.L. Roundup—Expansion Draft; 130 Veteran Faces For the Browns". The New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2008.
- Official Rules of the NFL, Rule 3, Section 21, Article 2, Note 2
- Litsky, Frank (November 2, 1999). "Walter Payton, Extraordinary Running Back for Chicago Bears, Dies at 45". The New York Times.
- NFL Record and Fact Book (ISBN 1-932994-36-X)
- NFL History 1991–2000 (Last accessed October 17, 2005)
- Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (ISBN 0-06-270174-6)
- Steelers Fever – History of NFL Rules (Last accessed October 17, 2005)
- NFL introduces Instant Replay technology (Last accessed November 4, 2005)
- Tuck Rule Hard to Grasp by Mark Maske, The Washington Post, October 15, 2005 (Last accessed November 4, 2005)