1997 NFL season

Last updated

1997 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationAugust 31 – December 22, 1997
Start dateDecember 27, 1997
AFC Champions Denver Broncos
NFC Champions Green Bay Packers
Super Bowl XXXII
DateJanuary 25, 1998
Site Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
Champions Denver Broncos
Pro Bowl
DateFebruary 1, 1998
Site Aloha Stadium
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AFC teams: Yellow ffff00 pog.svg West, Blue pog.svg Central, White pog.svg East
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The 1997 NFL season was the 78th regular season of the National Football League (NFL). The Oilers relocated from Houston, Texas to Nashville, Tennessee. The newly renamed Tennessee Oilers played their home games during this season at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee while construction of a new stadium in Nashville started. Houston would rejoin the NFL with the expansion Texans in 2002.


Due to Game 7 of the 1997 World Series, the Chicago BearsMiami Dolphins game at Pro Player Stadium was delayed one day to Monday, October 27.

The season ended with Super Bowl XXXII when the Denver Broncos defeated the Green Bay Packers 31–24 at Qualcomm Stadium. This broke the National Football Conference (NFC)'s streak of thirteen consecutive Super Bowl victories, the last American Football Conference (AFC) win having been the Los Angeles Raiders defeating the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII.

Player movement




The 1997 NFL Draft was held from April 19 to 20, 1997 at New York City's Theater at Madison Square Garden. With the first pick, the St. Louis Rams selected offensive tackle Orlando Pace from Ohio State University.

Referee changes

Red Cashion and Howard Roe retired. Bill Carollo and Phil Luckett were promoted to referee.

Major rule changes


American Bowl

A series of National Football League pre-season exhibition games that were held at sites outside the United States. Three were contested in 1997, including the defending Super Bowl XXXI champion Green Bay Packers competing in Toronto.

DateWinning TeamScoreLosing TeamScoreStadiumCity
July 27, 1997 Pittsburgh Steelers 30 Chicago Bears 17 Croke Park Flag of Ireland.svg Dublin
August 4, 1997 Miami Dolphins 38 Denver Broncos 19 Estadio Guillermo Cañedo Flag of Mexico.svg Mexico City
August 16, 1997 Green Bay Packers 35 Buffalo Bills 3 SkyDome Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Toronto

Hall of Fame Game

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, in which the Minnesota Vikings defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28–26, was played on July 26, and held at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, the same city where the league was founded. The 1997 Hall of Fame Class included Mike Haynes, Wellington Mara, Don Shula and Mike Webster.

Regular season

Scheduling formula

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

Highlights of the 1997 season included:

Final standings



Dec 28 – Houlihan's Stadium Jan 4 – Lambeau Field
5 Detroit 10
4Tampa Bay7
4 Tampa Bay 20Jan 11 – 3Com Park
2 Green Bay 21
Dec 27 – Giants Stadium 2Green Bay23
Jan 3 – 3Com Park
1San Francisco10
6 Minnesota 23NFC Championship
3 NY Giants 22Jan 25 – Qualcomm Stadium
1 San Francisco 38
Wild Card playoffs
Divisional playoffs
Dec 27 – Mile High Stadium N2Green Bay24
Jan 4 – Arrowhead Stadium
5 Jacksonville 17 Super Bowl XXXII
4 Denver 42Jan 11 – Three Rivers Stadium
1 Kansas City 10
Dec 28 – Foxboro Stadium 4Denver24
Jan 3 – Three Rivers Stadium
6 Miami 3AFC Championship
3New England6
3 New England 17
2 Pittsburgh 7

Statistical leaders


Points scored Denver Broncos (472)
Total yards gainedDenver Broncos (5,872)
Yards rushing Pittsburgh Steelers (2,479)
Yards passing Seattle Seahawks (3,959)
Fewest points allowed Kansas City Chiefs (232)
Fewest total yards allowed San Francisco 49ers (4,013)
Fewest rushing yards allowedPittsburgh Steelers (1,318)
Fewest passing yards allowed Dallas Cowboys (2,522)


Scoring Mike Hollis, Jacksonville (134 points)
Touchdowns Karim Abdul-Jabbar, Miami (16 TDs)
Most field goals made Richie Cunningham, Dallas (34 FGs)
Rushing yards Barry Sanders, Detroit, (2,053 yards)
Passer rating Steve Young, San Francisco (104.7 rating)
Passing yards Jeff George, Oakland (3,917 yards)
Passing touchdowns Brett Favre, Green Bay (35 TDs)
Receptions Tim Brown, Oakland and Herman Moore, Detroit (104 catches)
Receiving yards Rob Moore, Arizona (1,584)
Receiving touchdowns Cris Carter, Minnesota (13)
Punt returns Jermaine Lewis, Baltimore (15.6 average yards)
Kickoff returns Michael Bates, Carolina (27.3 average yards)
Interceptions Ryan McNeil, St. Louis (9)
Punting Mark Royals, New Orleans (45.9 average yards)
Sacks John Randle, Minnesota (15.5)


Most Valuable Players Brett Favre, quarterback, Green Bay and Barry Sanders, running back, Detroit
Coach of the Year Jim Fassel, New York Giants
Offensive Player of the Year Barry Sanders, running back, Detroit
Defensive Player of the Year Dana Stubblefield, defensive tackle, San Francisco
Offensive Rookie of the Year Warrick Dunn, running back, Tampa Bay
Defensive Rookie of the Year Peter Boulware, linebacker, Baltimore
NFL Comeback Player of the Year Robert Brooks, wide receiver, Green Bay
NFL Man of the Year Troy Aikman, quarterback, Dallas
Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Terrell Davis, running back, Denver

Players of the Month


1997OffensiveDefensiveSpecial Teams
SeptemberRB – Terrell Davis, DenverLB – Chris Slade, New EnglandK – Matt Stover, Baltimore
OctoberRB – Jerome Bettis, PittsburghDE – Bruce Smith, BuffaloK – Greg Davis, San Diego
NovemberQB – John Elway, DenverS – Jerome Woods, Kansas CityWR-PR – Eric Metcalf, San Diego
DecemberWR – Keenan McCardell, JacksonvilleLB – Derrick Thomas, Kansas CityK – Pete Stoyanovich, Kansas City


1997OffensiveDefensiveSpecial Teams
SeptemberWR – Jake Reed, MinnesotaDT – Warren Sapp, Tampa BayK – Richie Cunningham, Dallas
OctoberRB – Barry Sanders, DetroitDT – John Randle, MinnesotaP – Matt Turk, Washington
NovemberRB – Barry Sanders, DetroitDT – Dana Stubblefield, San FranciscoK – Doug Brien, New Orleans
DecemberRB – Barry Sanders, DetroitCB – Jason Sehorn, New York GiantsRB-KR – Byron Hanspard, Atlanta

Coaching changes

Stadium changes

New uniforms


This was the fourth and final year under the league's four-year broadcast contracts with ABC, Fox, NBC, TNT, and ESPN. ABC, Fox, and NBC continued to televise Monday Night Football , the NFC package, the AFC package, respectively. Sunday night games aired on TNT during the first half of the season, and ESPN during the second half of the season. This was the last season to date that TNT broadcast NFL games, as well as the last for NBC until 2006. When the new TV contracts were signed near the end of the season, Fox retained the NFC package, CBS took over the AFC package, and ESPN won the right to televise all of the Sunday night games.

With Mike Ditka becoming the new head coach of the New Orleans Saints, Sam Wyche was named to replace him on The NFL on NBC pregame show. NBC fired Marv Albert following Week 3 due to sexual assault charges against him; Tom Hammond replaced Albert as the network's #2 play-by-play announcer.

For TNT's final season, Mark May joined Verne Lundquist and Pat Haden in a three-man booth.

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  1. "Kelly retires from the Bills after 11 Years". Kelly Retires From the Bills After 11 Years - By The Associated Press. Retrieved December 3, 2020.