1980 NFL season

Last updated

1980 NFL season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 7 – December 22, 1980
Start dateDecember 28, 1980
AFC Champions Oakland Raiders
NFC Champions Philadelphia Eagles
Super Bowl XV
DateJanuary 25, 1981
Site Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Champions Oakland Raiders
Pro Bowl
DateFebruary 1, 1981
Site Aloha Stadium
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Archie Manning attempting a pass for the New Orleans Saints against the L.A. Rams in 1980. 1986 Jeno's Pizza - 25 - Archie Manning (cropped).jpg
Archie Manning attempting a pass for the New Orleans Saints against the L.A. Rams in 1980.

The 1980 NFL season was the 61st regular season of the National Football League.


Prior to the season in March 1980, fellow NFL owners voted against the proposed move by the Raiders from Oakland, California to Los Angeles. Raiders team owner Al Davis along with the Los Angeles Coliseum sued the NFL charging that they had violated antitrust laws. A verdict in the trial would not be decided until before the 1982 NFL season and thus the 1980 and 1981 Raiders would continue to play in Oakland while awaiting a judgement.

Meanwhile, the season ended at Super Bowl XV played on January 25, 1981, in New Orleans, Louisiana, with these same Oakland Raiders defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 27–10, making them the first Wild Card team ever to win the Super Bowl. [1]

Oakland Raiders announce future move to Los Angeles in defiance of NFL vote

In 1979, Raiders owner Al Davis announced his intention to move the Raiders to Los Angeles. Negotiations between Davis and the Oakland Coliseum regarding potential improvements to the facility came to an end in February 1980. At the NFL's annual meeting on March 10, 1980, team owners voted 22–0 against allowing the move, with the Raiders not participating and five teams abstaining. Davis announced he would ignore the vote and move the team anyway. [2]

The Raiders played the entire 1980 season in Oakland. At a Monday Night Football game against the Denver Broncos on December 1, 1980, Raider fans protested by entering the Oakland Coliseum five minutes after the start of the game and holding up signs stating "Save Our Raiders" at each half's 2-minute warning. By some estimates, "almost two-thirds" of the Coliseum's seats had been empty at the game's kickoff. [2]

The announced move was involved in four lawsuits: the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission sued the NFL charging antitrust violations, the NFL sued the Raiders charging breach of contract, Raider season ticket holders filed a class-action lawsuit, and the City of Oakland filed for eminent domain of the team. [2]

In May 1982, a jury ruled that the NFL had violated antitrust law by attempting to prevent the move, clearing the way for Davis to move the Raiders for the 1982 season. In April 1983, after the team's first season in Los Angeles, a separate jury awarded the Raiders $35 million in damages. [2]


The 1980 NFL Draft was held from April 29 to 30, 1980 at New York City's Sheraton Hotel. With the first pick, the Detroit Lions selected running back Billy Sims from the University of Oklahoma.

New referee

The league added a 15th officiating crew, promoting Bob McElwee to referee. The league previously had 15 crews in 1976 (when the league expanded to 28 teams) and 1977. After referee Bernie Ulman retired after the 1977 season, the league used only 14 crews for the 1978 and 1979 seasons, requiring all 14 of them to be on hand for the weekly workload of 14 games.

Major rule changes

Teams can take a time-out (if available) to prevent the runoff. [3]


Division Races

From 1978 to 1989, ten teams qualified for the playoffs: the winners of each of the divisions, and two wild-card teams in each conference. These are the leaders for each playoff slot, week by week. Teams listed in week 16 indicate playoff participants.

National Football Conference

Week NFC East NFC Central NFC West Wild Card Wild Card
13 teams1–04 teams1–0 San Francisco 1–0
2 Philadelphia 2–0 Detroit, Tampa Bay 2–0San Francisco2–0
3Philadelphia3–0Detroit3–0San Francisco3–0Dallas, Tampa Bay, Minnesota 2–1
4Philadelphia, Dallas 3–1Detroit4–0San Francisco3–1Philadelphia, Dallas3–14 teams2–2
5Philadelphia, Dallas4–1Detroit4–1S.F., L.A., Atlanta 3–2Philadelphia, Dallas4–1S.F., L.A., Atlanta3–2
6Philadelphia, Dallas5–1Detroit5–1Los Angeles4–2Philadelphia, Dallas5–1Minnesota, S.F., Atlanta3–3
7Philadelphia6–1Detroit5–2Los Angeles5–2Dallas5–2Atlanta4–3
8Philadelphia7–1Detroit5–3L.A., Atlanta5–3Dallas6–2L.A., Atlanta5–3
9Philadelphia8–1Detroit6–3L.A., Atlanta6–3Dallas7–2L.A., Atlanta6–3
10Philadelphia9–1Detroit6–4Atlanta7–3Dallas7–3Los Angeles6–4
11Philadelphia10–1Detroit, Minnesota6–5Atlanta8–3Dallas8–3Los Angeles7–4
12Philadelphia11–1Detroit7–5Atlanta9–3Dallas9–3Los Angeles8–4
13Philadelphia11–2Detroit, Minnesota7–6Atlanta10–3Dallas10–3Los Angeles9–4
14Philadelphia, Dallas11–3Minnesota8–6Atlanta11–3Philadelphia, Dallas11–3Los Angeles9–5
15Philadelphia12–3Minnesota9–6Atlanta12–3Dallas11–4Los Angeles10–5
16 Philadelphia 12–4 Minnesota 9–7 Atlanta 12–4 Dallas 12–4 Los Angeles 11–5

American Football Conference

Week AFC East AFC Central AFC West Wild Card Wild Card
13 teams1–0 Pittsburgh 1–0 S.D., Oakland 1–0
2 Buffalo 2–0Pittsburgh2–0San Diego2–0
3Buffalo3–0Pittsburgh, Houston 2–1San Diego3–0Pitt., Hou., Miami, N.E., Oak.2–1
4Buffalo4–0Pittsburgh, Houston3–1San Diego4–04 teams3–1 Baltimore, Cleveland, Oak., Seattle 2–2
5Buffalo5–0Pittsburgh4–1San Diego4–1 New England 4–1Miami, Baltimore, Houston, Seattle3–2
6New England5–1Pittsburgh4–2San Diego4–2Buffalo5–1Baltimore4–2
7New England6–1Pittsburgh, Cle., Hou.4–3San Diego5–2Buffalo5–26 teams4–3
8Buffalo6–2Cleveland, Houston5–3S.D., Oakland5–3New England6–24 teams5–3
9New England7–2Cleveland, Houston6–3S.D., Oakland6–35 teams6–35 teams6–3
10Buffalo7–3Houston7–3Oakland7–3Cleveland, N.E.7–3Cleveland, N.E.7–3
11Buffalo8–3Houston8–3Oakland8–34 teams7–4Miami, Baltimore, Denver 6–5
12Buffalo9–3Houston8–4S.D., Oakland8–44 teams8–44 teams8–4
13Buffalo9–4Cleveland9–4S.D., Oakland9–4S.D., Oakland9–4New England, Pittsburgh, Houston8–5
14Buffalo10–4Cleveland10–4S.D., Oakland9–5S.D., Oak., Hou.9–5S.D., Oak., Hou.9–5
15Buffalo10–5Cleveland, Houston10–5S.D., Oakland10–5Cle., Hou., S.D., Oak.10–5Cle., Hou., S.D., Oak.10–5
16 Buffalo 11–5 Cleveland 11–5 San Diego 11–5 Oakland 11–5 Houston 11–5

Regular season

Scheduling formula

AFC East vs NFC West
AFC Central vs NFC Central
AFC West vs NFC East

Highlights of the 1980 season included:

Final standings



Note: The San Diego Chargers (the AFC 1 seed) did not play the Oakland Raiders (the 4 seed) in the Divisional playoff round because both teams were in the same division.
Jan 4 – Cleveland Stadium
Dec 28 – Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum Jan 11 – Jack Murphy Stadium
2* Cleveland 12
5 Houston 74Oakland34
Jan 3 – Jack Murphy Stadium
4 Oakland 271San Diego27
AFC Championship
3 Buffalo 14
Jan 25 – Louisiana Superdome
1* San Diego 20
Divisional playoffs
Wild Card playoffsA4Oakland27
Jan 4 – Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium
Super Bowl XV
Dec 28 – Texas Stadium Jan 11 – Veterans Stadium
1 Atlanta 27
5 Los Angeles 134Dallas7
Jan 3 – Veterans Stadium
4 Dallas 342Philadelphia20
NFC Championship
3 Minnesota 16
2 Philadelphia 31

Statistical leaders


Points scoredDallas Cowboys (454)
Total yards gainedSan Diego Chargers (6,410)
Yards rushingLos Angeles Rams (2,799)
Yards passingSan Diego Chargers (4,531)
Fewest points allowedPhiladelphia Eagles (222)
Fewest total yards allowedBuffalo Bills (4,101)
Fewest rushing yards allowedDetroit Lions (1,599)
Fewest passing yards allowedWashington Redskins (2,171)


Most Valuable Player Brian Sipe, quarterback, Cleveland
Coach of the Year Chuck Knox, Buffalo
Offensive Player of the Year Earl Campbell, running back, Houston Oilers
Defensive Player of the Year Lester Hayes, cornerback, Oakland
Offensive Rookie of the Year Billy Sims, running back, Detroit
Defensive Rookie of the Year Buddy Curry & Al Richardson, linebackers, Atlanta
Man of the Year Harold Carmichael, wide receiver, Philadelphia
Comeback Player of the Year Jim Plunkett, quarterback, Oakland
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Jim Plunkett, quarterback, Oakland

Coaching changes



Stadium changes

The Los Angeles Rams moved from Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to Anaheim Stadium

Uniform changes


This was the third year under the league's four-year broadcast contracts with ABC, CBS, and NBC to televise Monday Night Football , the NFC package, and the AFC package, respectively. Phyllis George returned to The NFL Today , replacing Jayne Kennedy (who had previously replaced George in 1978). [4]

NBC made history with an announcerless telecast of the December 20, nationally televised Saturday game between the New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins. With both teams out of playoff contention during the last week of the regular season, NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer used this as a one-shot experiment in an attempt to boost ratings. [5]

Late in the 4th Quarter of a Monday Night Football game between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins on December 8, ABC Monday Night Football announcers Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell broke the shocking news of the passing of former Beatle, John Lennon, who was shot twice outside of his New York, Dakota apartment.





  1. "NFL.com: Super Bowl XV Recap" . Retrieved January 16, 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Raiders fans reliving the Los Angeles nightmare, The Press Democrat, Phil Barber, Dec. 14, 2015.
  3. Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League (First ed.). 1997. p.  1585. ISBN   0-06-270170-3.
  4. Brulia, Tim. "A CHRONOLOGY OF PRO FOOTBALL ON TELEVISION: Part 3" (PDF). Pro Football Researchers.
  5. Garber, Greg (December 12, 2010). "In this NFL game, silence was golden". ESPN.

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