1989 NFL season

Last updated

1989 NFL season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 10 – December 25, 1989
Start dateDecember 31, 1989
AFC Champions Denver Broncos
NFC Champions San Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl XXIV
DateJanuary 28, 1990
Site Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Champions San Francisco 49ers
Pro Bowl
DateFebruary 2, 1990
Site Aloha Stadium
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AFC teams: Yellow ffff00 pog.svg West, DeepPink pog.svg Central, Green pog.svg East
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NFC teams: Yellow ffff00 pog.svg West, DeepPink pog.svg Central, Green pog.svg East

The 1989 NFL season was the 70th regular season of the National Football League. Before the season, NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle announced his retirement. Paul Tagliabue was eventually chosen to succeed him, taking over on November 5.


Due to damage caused by the Loma Prieta earthquake to Candlestick Park, the New England Patriots at San Francisco 49ers game on October 22 was played at Stanford Stadium in Stanford.

The NFL instituted a new "free agent" system for this season, Plan B, which allowed teams to have the first chance on re-signing 37 of their players. If a team did not make a deal and that player signs elsewhere, the team would receive compensation; it would be used until 1992. [1] [2]

The season ended with Super Bowl XXIV where the 49ers defeated the Denver Broncos 55–10 at the Louisiana Superdome.

Player movement




The 1989 NFL Draft was held from April 23 to 24, 1989 at New York City's Marriott Marquis. With the first pick, the Dallas Cowboys selected quarterback Troy Aikman from the University of California, Los Angeles. Selecting third, the Detroit Lions drafted Barry Sanders, who would retire as the NFL's second all-time leading scorer (since broken).

Referee changes

Fred Silva retired during the 1989 off-season. He joined the NFL in 1968 as a line judge before being promoted to referee in 1969. Games that he officiated include Super Bowl XIV and the Freezer Bowl.

Dale Hamer, the head linesman for Super Bowl XVII and Super Bowl XXII, and Howard Roe were promoted to referee. In addition to replacing Silva, an extra 16th officiating crew was added to help handle the weekly workload of 14 games.

Walt Coleman was hired as a line judge. He was promoted to referee in 1995 and was a crew chief through 2018.

Major rule changes

1989 deaths


American Bowl

A series of National Football League pre-season exhibition games that were held at sites outside the United States, a pair of games in 1989 were contested in London, England and Tokyo, Japan.

DateWinning TeamScoreLosing TeamScoreStadiumCity
August 6, 1989 Los Angeles Rams 16 San Francisco 49ers 13 Tokyo Dome Flag of Japan.svg Tokyo
August 6, 1989 Philadelphia Eagles 17 Cleveland Browns 13 Wembley Stadium Flag of the United Kingdom.svg London

Hall of Fame Game

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, in which the Washington Redskins defeated the Buffalo Bills 31–6, was played on August 5, televised nationally by ABC and held at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio, the same city where the league was founded. The 1989 Hall of Fame Class included Mel Blount and Terry Bradshaw, teammates on four Super Bowl championship teams with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1970s, Art Shell, a member of the Oakland Raiders Super Bowl XI and Super Bowl XV teams, plus Willie Wood, who captured five NFL championships, including Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II with the Green Bay Packers.

Regular season

Scheduling formula

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

Highlights of the 1989 season included:

Final standings



Note: The San Francisco 49ers (the NFC 1 seed) did not play the Los Angeles Rams (the 5 seed) in the Divisional playoff round because both teams were in the same division.
Jan 7 – Giants Stadium
5LA Rams19*
Dec 31 – Veterans Stadium Jan. 14 – Candlestick Park
2 NY Giants 13
5 LA Rams 215LA Rams3
Jan 6 – Candlestick Park
4 Philadelphia 71San Francisco30
NFC Championship
3 Minnesota 13
Jan 28 – Louisiana Superdome
1 San Francisco 41
Divisional playoffs
Wild Card playoffsN1San Francisco55
Jan 6 – Cleveland Stadium
Super Bowl XXIV
3 Buffalo 30
Dec 31 – Astrodome Jan. 14 – Mile High Stadium
2 Cleveland 34
5 Pittsburgh 26*2Cleveland21
Jan 7 – Mile High Stadium
4 Houston 231Denver37
AFC Championship
1 Denver 24

* Indicates overtime victory

Statistical leaders


Points scoredSan Francisco 49ers (442)
Total yards gainedSan Francisco 49ers (6,268)
Yards rushingCincinnati Bengals (2,483)
Yards passingWashington Redskins (4,349)
Fewest points allowedDenver Broncos (226)
Fewest total yards allowedMinnesota Vikings (4,184)
Fewest rushing yards allowedNew Orleans Saints (1,326)
Fewest passing yards allowedMinnesota Vikings (2,501)


Most Valuable Player Joe Montana, quarterback, San Francisco
Coach of the Year Lindy Infante, Green Bay
Offensive Player of the Year Joe Montana, quarterback, San Francisco
Defensive Player of the Year Keith Millard, defensive tackle, Minnesota
Offensive Rookie of the Year Barry Sanders, running back, Detroit
Defensive Rookie of the Year Derrick Thomas, linebacker, Kansas City
NFL Comeback Player of the Year Ottis Anderson, running back, NY Giants
NFL Man of the Year Warren Moon, quarterback, Houston
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Joe Montana, quarterback, San Francisco

Coaching changes



Uniform changes


This was the third and final year under the league's broadcast contracts with ABC, CBS, NBC, and ESPN to televise Monday Night Football , the NFC package, the AFC package, and Sunday Night Football , respectively. O. J. Simpson was named as the sole studio analyst for NBC's NFL Live! , joining host Bob Costas. NBC also hired the then-recently retired head coach Bill Walsh to join Dick Enberg on the network's lead broadcast team, replacing Merlin Olsen as the network's lead color commentator; Olsen left for CBS after this season. [17]

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