|Duration||September 10, 2015 – January 3, 2016|
|Start date||January 9, 2016|
|AFC Champions||Denver Broncos|
|NFC Champions||Carolina Panthers|
|Super Bowl 50|
|Date||February 7, 2016|
|Site||Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California|
|Date||January 31, 2016|
|Site||Aloha Stadium, Honolulu, Hawaii|
The 2015 NFL season was the 96th season in the history of the National Football League (NFL), and the 50th of the Super Bowl era. To celebrate the 50th season of the Super Bowl, a gold-plated NFL logo and other various gold-themed promotions were used throughout the season. It began on Thursday, September 10, 2015, with the annual kickoff game featuring the defending Super Bowl XLIX champion New England Patriots defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 28–21. The season concluded with Super Bowl 50, the league's championship game, on Sunday, February 7, 2016, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, with the Denver Broncos defeating the Carolina Panthers, 24–10.
During the 2015 season, the Oakland Raiders, the St. Louis Rams, and the San Diego Chargers announced their intentions to relocate back to Los Angeles in the ensuing off-season (all three teams had previously resided in the city at various points in their history). NFL owners eventually only approved the relocation of the Rams, by a vote of 30–2 on January 12, 2016. Thus, 2015 ended up being the Rams' last season in St. Louis.
The 2015 NFL League Year began on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. ET. On Saturday, March 7, clubs started to contact and enter into contract negotiations with the certified agents of players who became unrestricted free agents upon the expiration of their 2014 contracts at 4:00 p.m. ET on March 10. On Tuesday, March 10, 2015, clubs exercised options for 2015 on all players who have option clauses in their 2014 contracts, submitted qualifying offers to their restricted free agents with expiring contracts and to whom they desire to retain a Right of First Refusal/Compensation, submitted a Minimum Salary Tender to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with expiring 2014 contracts and who have fewer than three accrued seasons of free agency credit, "Top-51" began, all clubs must be under the 2015 salary cap, all 2014 player contracts expired at 4:00 p.m. ET and trading period for 2015 began. (4:00 p.m. ET).
A total of 453 players were eligible for some form of free agency at the beginning of the free agency period.Among the players who changed teams via free agency included:
Four players were assigned the non-exclusive franchise tag by their teams, which ensured that the team would receive compensation were the player to sign a contract with another team. These players were wide receivers Dez Bryant (Cowboys)and Demaryius Thomas (Broncos), linebacker Justin Houston (Chiefs), and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (Giants). One other team used the transition tag, which offers the player's current team a chance to match offers from other franchises and also guarantees draft pick compensation (at a lesser level than the franchise tag) if a tagged player signs elsewhere. The player given the transition tag was Charles Clay (Dolphins). On March 19, 2015, Clay signed a five-year, $38M contract with the Buffalo Bills, after the Dolphins elected not to match the offer.
An unusually large number of big name players switched teams via trade prior to the 2015 season.Eagles coach Chip Kelly used his newly obtained GM powers to make many blockbuster trades. The Philadelphia Eagles traded 2-time All-Pro running back LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso. The Eagles also traded Pro Bowl quarterback Nick Foles along with their selection in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft to the St. Louis Rams for quarterback Sam Bradford; the deal also included a swap of draft picks in the 2015 NFL Draft as well as a possible additional 2016 draft pick from the Rams contingent on Bradford's playing time with the Eagles. The New Orleans Saints traded All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham along with their fourth-round selection in the draft to the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for All-Pro center Max Unger and the Seahawks' first-round selection in the draft. The Saints also traded away Pro Bowl guard Ben Grubbs (to the Kansas City Chiefs for a fifth round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft) and wide receiver Kenny Stills (to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and a third rounder in the 2015 draft). The Detroit Lions acquired All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata from the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for draft picks to help make up for the loss of Ndamukong Suh in free agency.
The 2015 NFL Draft was held April 30 – May 2, 2015, in Chicago. The draft process began with the NFL Scouting Combine, where draft-eligible players were evaluated by team personnel, which was held in Indianapolis on February 17–23. On October 2, 2014, Auditorium Theatre in Chicago was announced as the official site of the draft. The previous fifty NFL drafts (since 1965) had been held in New York. The 2015 NFL Draft was the first to feature an outdoor component, where fans would be able to see the Commissioner on the Auditorium Theatre stage from across the street in Grant Park; this area was called Draft Town. In the draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston the first overall selection.
Referee Bill Leavy retired after the 2014 season.On May 13, 2015, the NFL promoted line judge John Hussey to the referee position. In addition to Hussey's promotion to referee, the NFL hired 10 more officials, including the first full-time female official in NFL history, Sarah Thomas, who will work as a line judge, as well as Walt Coleman IV, the son of referee Walt Coleman, who will work as a side judge.
The following rule changes were passed for the 2015 NFL season at the owners' meeting on March 25, 2015:
The following changes to the extra point rules were passed for the 2015 NFL season at the owners' meeting on May 19, 2015:
The following changes to game ball protocol were passed for the 2015 NFL season on July 27, 2015:
The following people associated with the NFL (or AFL) died in 2015.
Frank Gifford died on August 9, just a week shy of his 85th birthday. Gifford had a 12-year playing career with the New York Giants in the 1950s and 1960s. He was a 4-time All-Pro, played in eight Pro Bowls and was named to the 1950s All-Decade Team. In 1956 Gifford was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player. After his playing career Gifford transitioned to sports broadcasting, most notably joining ABC's Monday Night Football in the program's second season and serving as the broadcast's play-by-play announcer and later color commentator for the next 27 seasons. Gifford was a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame as well as the College Football Hall of Fame.
Chuck Bednarik died on March 31 at age 89. Bednarik was the first player selected in the 1949 NFL Draft and played linebacker and center for the Philadelphia Eagles for fourteen seasons. He won championships with the Eagles in 1949 and 1960. He was a 5-time first team All-Pro and played in eight Pro Bowls. Bednarik was selected as a member of the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Two-Way Team and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1967. He was also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.
Ken Stabler died on July 8 at age 69. Stabler had a fifteen-year NFL career as a quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints in the 1970s and 1980s. He was named the league's MVP in 1974, led the Raiders to their first championship in Super Bowl XI and was a member of the 1970s All-Decade Team.
Ed Sabol died on February 9 at age 98. Sabol founded NFL Films in 1962 where he pioneered a documentary style of capturing the game of football that many credit as a driver of the huge surge in the NFL's popularity. Sabol was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
Charlie Sanders died on July 2 at age 68. Sanders played tight end for the Detroit Lions for ten seasons. He was twice named first-team All-Pro, was selected for seven Pro Bowl teams and was a member of the 1970s All-Decade Team. After his playing career he continued to be involved with the Lions, first as a broadcaster and later as a coach and scout. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
Garo Yepremian died on May 15 at age 70. Yepremian had a fourteen-year career as a placekicker for four NFL teams, most notably with the Miami Dolphins of the 1970s. He was twice named a first-team All-Pro and was a member of two Pro Bowl teams as well as a 2-time Super Bowl champion. He led the league in field goal accuracy three times and was named to the 1970s All-Decade Team.
Bob St. Clair died on April 20 at age 84. St. Clair had an eleven-year career as an offensive tackle for the San Francisco 49ers in the 1950s and 1960s. He played in the Pro Bowl five times and was named to the 1950s All-Decade Team. St. Clair was the mayor of Daly City, California from 1958 through 1964. St. Clair was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
Training camps for the 2015 season began July 22 and continued through the end of preseason, September 3. The normal training camp window ran from late July to late August or early September. Most of the camps had rookies report first, then veterans. At that point, some teams practiced versus another organization, like the Bills practiced against the Browns this year. Teams started training camp no earlier than fifteen days before the team's first scheduled preseason game. At that point, the rosters for each team were open to 90 players. Those rosters were cut to 75 by Week 3 of preseason, and the final 53-man roster was submitted at the end of preseason.
Prior to the start of the regular season, each team played at least four exhibition games. The preseason schedule got underway with the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on Sunday evening, August 9. The Hall of Fame game is a traditional part of the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame induction weekend celebrating new Hall of Fame members. It was played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium which is located adjacent to the Hall of Fame building in Canton, Ohio. The game, which was televised in the U.S. on NBC, featured the Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers; as in previous years, each team had an inductee in the class of 2015 (Mick Tingelhoff for the Vikings, Jerome Bettis for the Steelers).The 65-game preseason schedule ended on Thursday, September 3, a week before the start of the regular season, with each team having played four preseason games, except for the Steelers and Vikings, who played five games. The preliminary preseason schedule was released Thursday, April 9.
The 2015 regular season featured 256 games played out over a seventeen-week schedule which began on the Thursday night following Labor Day. Each of the league's 32 teams played a 16-game schedule with one bye week for each team scheduled between weeks four and eleven. The slate also featured seventeen games on Monday night, two of which were played at the end of the first week of the regular season. Additionally, there was no Monday Night game at the end of the final week of the regular season, the same as in previous years. There were games played on Thursday, including the opening game of the regular season on Thursday, September 10 and three games on Thanksgiving Day. The regular season concluded with a full slate of 16 games on Sunday, January 3, all of which were intra-divisional matchups, as it has been since 2010, with the Minnesota Vikings beating the Green Bay Packers on NBC Sunday Night Football
Under the NFL's scheduling formula, each team plays each of the other three teams in their own division twice (one home and one away). In addition, a team plays against all four teams in one other division within the conference, on a 3-year rotation; and one division from the opposite conference, on a 4-year rotation. Two games on a team's schedule are against the two teams in the team's own conference in the divisions the team was not set to play who finished the previous season in the same rank in their division (e.g. the team which finished first in its division the previous season would play each other team in their conference that also finished first in its respective division). The pre-set division pairings for 2015 are as follows:
Highlights of the 2015 schedule include:
|2||New England Patriots||East||12||4||0||.750||4–2||9–3||.473||.448||L2|
|5||Kansas City Chiefs||West||11||5||0||.688||5–1||10–2||.496||.432||W10|
|Did not qualify for the postseason|
|7||New York Jets||East||10||6||0||.625||3–3||7–5||.441||.388||L1|
|14||San Diego Chargers||West||4||12||0||.250||0–6||3–9||.527||.328||L2|
|5||Green Bay Packers||North||10||6||0||.625||3–3||7–5||.531||.450||L2|
|Did not qualify for the postseason|
|8||St. Louis Rams||West||7||9||0||.438||4–2||6–6||.527||.482||L1|
|11||New Orleans Saints||South||7||9||0||.438||3–3||5–7||.504||.402||W2|
|12||New York Giants||East||6||10||0||.375||2–4||4–8||.500||.396||L3|
|14||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||South||6||10||0||.375||3–3||5–7||.484||.406||L4|
|15||San Francisco 49ers||West||5||11||0||.313||1–5||4–8||.539||.463||W1|
The 2015 playoffs opened with the Wild Card playoff round on the weekend of Saturday, January 9 and Sunday, January 10, 2016, with the winner of each of the games visiting the top two seeded teams in each conference. The Divisional round games were then played on the weekend of Saturday, January 16 and Sunday, January 17, 2016. The Conference championships were held on Sunday, January 24, 2016 with the AFC Championship Game and the NFC Championship Game.
The 2016 Pro Bowl was held on January 31, 2016 at the Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii. The game continued the "unconferenced/draft" format that was started in 2014, with Jerry Rice and Michael Irvin serving as the alumni captains. Team Irvin defeated Team Rice 49–27.
Super Bowl 50 decided the 2015 NFL Champion and was played at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California on Sunday, February 7, 2016. Instead of naming it Super Bowl L with Roman numerals like in previous Super Bowls, this game was marketed with the Arabic numeral "50".According to Jaime Weston, the league's vice president of brand and creative, the primary reason was that the league's graphic designers had difficulty designing a suitable, aesthetically pleasing logo with only the Roman numeral "L".
|Jan. 10 – FedExField||Jan. 16 – University of Phoenix Stadium|
|4||Washington||18||Jan. 24 – Bank of America Stadium|
|Jan. 10 – TCF Bank Stadium||2||Arizona||15|
|Jan. 17 – Bank of America Stadium|
|3||Minnesota||9||Feb. 7 – Levi's Stadium|
|Wild Card playoffs|
|Jan. 9 – NRG Stadium||N1||Carolina||10|
|Jan. 16 – Gillette Stadium|
|5||Kansas City||30||Super Bowl 50|
|4||Houston||0||Jan. 24 – Sports Authority Field at Mile High|
|Jan. 9 – Paul Brown Stadium||2||New England||18|
|Jan. 17 – Sports Authority Field at Mile High|
Some NFL-related events that made headlines in 2015 include:
In May, after a lengthy investigation led by Ted Wells, the external investigator appointed by the NFL, the league levied its punishment against the Patriots in the so-called "Deflategate" scandal. The scandal stemmed from the discovery that several of the footballs used by the Patriots during the previous season's AFC championship game were not within the league's inflation guidelines. The Patriots were fined $1 million and stripped of their first-round selection in the 2016 NFL draft and their fourth-round selection in the 2017 NFL draft. Quarterback Tom Brady, who the league's report determined was likely aware of a scheme to manipulate inflation levels, was suspended for four games. Additionally, two locker room attendants employed by the Patriots were suspended indefinitely.
While the team agreed not to appeal the fine and draft pick revocation, Brady appealed his suspension. League commissioner Roger Goodell heard the appeal and confirmed the sentence on July 28. Immediately upon the announcement of the appeal verdict, the league filed suit against the NFL Players Association in civil court in an effort to gain a ruling upholding the punishment.Judge Richard M. Berman pushed the two sides hard to reach a settlement, but when they were unable to he ruled for Brady and the union vacating the suspension imposed by the league. Although the league appealed Judge Berman's ruling, Brady's suspension was lifted clearing the way for him to play in the season opener.
The two Patriots employees, assistant equipment manager John Jastremski and officials locker room attendant Jim McNally, who had previously been suspended by the team were allowed by the league to be reinstated in September. As a condition for the lifting of the suspensions, neither employee is allowed to be involved with the handling or preparation of game balls.
A number of relatively young NFL players walked away from the game prior to the 2015 season. The San Francisco 49ers lost three potential starters as linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland and offensive tackle Anthony Davis all announced their retirements. Former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds and Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker also both retired despite having yet to reach the age of 30.
Willis, who was regarded as one of the best middle linebackers in the league, played in just six games in 2014 as he dealt with a toe injury. He announced in March his decision to retire at age 30 due to the chronic nature of the foot injuries he had endured in his eight-year career.
Borland led the 49ers with 107 tackles in his rookie season in 2014 despite starting just eight games after being selected in the third round of the 2014 draft. Borland cited concerns over the potential long-term impact to his brain health in continuing to play the game in announcing his retirement which he did in March just days after Willis' announcement.
Davis missed four games in 2014 with his first diagnosed concussion. In announcing his retirement in June, he said that he planned to take "a year or so away from the NFL" to "allow my brain and body a chance to heal."
Worilds was entering free agency after playing for the Steelers the previous five seasons. He turned down contract offers worth tens of millions of dollars in order to devote more time to his Jehovah's Witnesses faith.
Locker played four years for the Titans after they made him the eighth overall selection in 2011 draft. He was a free agent when he announced that he would be retiring because he had lost "the burning desire necessary to play the game for a living."
The 2015 season marked the hiring of the first female NFL coach and first female NFL on-field official. Jen Welter was hired by the Arizona Cardinals as a coaching intern. Welter worked with the team's inside linebackers through the off-season and pre-season.Welter's internship with the Cardinals expired after the team's third preseason game on August 30.
Sarah Thomas became the NFL's first female on-field official when she was hired by the league in April.Thomas had previously become the first female to officiate a major college football game as well as the first to officiate a bowl game.
The NFL suspended side judge Rob Vernatchi (from Pete Morelli's crew) for Week 6 of the regular season due to a timekeeping blunder that occurred during a game the previous week. The host San Diego Chargers kicked a field goal to take a 3-point lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers with 2:56 remaining in the fourth quarter. The subsequent kickoff was a touchback, which shouldn't have resulted in any time coming off the game clock. However, when the Steelers took over on offense the scoreboard clock read 2:38. Vernatchi was responsible for keeping the official game time, but he did not notice the 18-second discrepancy. The Steelers ended up scoring a touchdown to secure a win with no time left on the clock.
The referee crew led by Pete Morelli had been assigned to officiate a Sunday Night Football game between the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 13, but was reassigned to a different game (Philadelphia Eagles at New England Patriots), due to heavy criticism for questionable calls made during the previous week's Arizona Cardinals–San Francisco 49ers game. Morelli's crew drew the ire of Cardinals' head coach Bruce Arians and 49ers' safety Eric Reed, including a botched roughing-the-passer call on Cardinals' quarterback Carson Palmer that aided the Cardinals' eventual game-winning drive, as well as a missed delay-of-game penalty. Morelli's crew had previously been the subject of criticism, following a clock error during a Week 5 game — see above.In addition, Morelli's crew was involved in a missed call at the end of the Jacksonville Jaguars–Baltimore Ravens game in Week 10, where they missed a false start penalty against the Jaguars before the final snap that resulted in a facemask penalty against the Ravens when time expired, allowing the Jaguars to gain 15 yards and kick the game-winning field goal.
A total of 26 players were suspended by the league as of the season's first week. Most of these suspensions were for violations of the league's performance-enhancing drug (PED), substance abuse and personal conduct policies.
Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer was suspended by the league for the first four games of the 2015 season due to a texting scandal which occurred in 2014. The league found that Farmer had used a cellphone to communicate with personnel on the Browns' sideline "on multiple occasions during games" in violation of league rules which prohibit such communications. In addition to Farmer's suspension, the team was assessed a fine of $250,000.
The league stripped the Atlanta Falcons of their selection in the fifth round of the 2016 draft after it was determined that they had been using pre-recorded crowd noise during the team's home games throughout 2013 and into 2014. In addition to losing the draft pick the franchise was fined $350,000 and team president Rich McKay was suspended from his post as chairman of the league's Competition Committee for three months starting in April. The team fired event marketing director Roddy White who they determined was directly responsible for the violation.
Buffalo Bills offensive line coach Aaron Kromer was suspended by the team for the first six weeks of the season after he was arrested for an altercation during which Kromer allegedly punched a teenager. The incident occurred in July near Kromer's home in Florida. Charges in the matter were eventually dropped.
Cleveland Browns offensive line coach Andy Moeller was suspended indefinitely by the Browns in September after in incident in which police were called to Moeller's house after a female houseguest alleged that Moeller physically assaulted her.Prosecutors declined to press charges related to the incident despite their conclusion that "it is quite clear an incident of volatile nature took place." On September 29, 2015, the Browns officially parted ways with Moeller.
This article may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may interest only a particular audience.(December 2015)
|Scoring leader||Stephen Gostkowski, New England (151)|
|Most Field Goals Made||Blair Walsh, Minnesota (34 FGs)|
|Touchdowns||Doug Baldwin, Seattle, Devonta Freeman, Atlanta, Brandon Marshall, New York Jets and Allen Robinson, Jacksonville (14 TDs)|
|Rushing||Adrian Peterson, Minnesota (1,485 yards)|
|Passing yards||Drew Brees, New Orleans (4,870 yards)|
|Passing touchdowns||Tom Brady, New England (36 TDs)|
|Passer rating||Russell Wilson, Seattle (110.1 rating)|
|Pass receptions||Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh and Julio Jones, Atlanta (136 catches)|
|Pass receiving yards||Julio Jones, Atlanta (1,871 yards)|
|Combined tackles||NaVorro Bowman, San Francisco (154 tackles)|
|Interceptions||Reggie Nelson, Cincinnati and Marcus Peters, Kansas (8)|
|Punting||Johnny Hekker, Los Angeles (4,601 yards, 47.9 average yards)|
|Sacks||J. J. Watt, Houston (17.5)|
The 5th Annual NFL Honors, saluting the best players and plays from 2015 season, was held at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, California on February 6, 2016.
|AP Most Valuable Player||Cam Newton||Quarterback||Carolina Panthers|
|AP Offensive Player of the Year||Cam Newton||Quarterback||Carolina Panthers|
|AP Defensive Player of the Year||J. J. Watt||Defensive end||Houston Texans|
|AP Coach of the Year||Ron Rivera||Coach||Carolina Panthers|
|AP Assistant Coach of the Year||Wade Phillips||Defensive coordinator||Denver Broncos|
|AP Offensive Rookie of the Year||Todd Gurley||Running back||St. Louis Rams|
|AP Defensive Rookie of the Year||Marcus Peters||Cornerback||Kansas City Chiefs|
|AP Comeback Player of the Year||Eric Berry||Safety||Kansas City Chiefs|
|Pepsi Rookie of the Year||Jameis Winston||Quarterback||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year||Anquan Boldin||Wide receiver||San Francisco 49ers|
|PFWA NFL Executive of the Year||Mike Maccagnan||General Manager||New York Jets|
|Super Bowl Most Valuable Player||Von Miller||Linebacker||Denver Broncos|
The following players were named First Team All-Pro by the Associated Press:
|Placekicker||Stephen Gostkowski, New England|
|Punter||Johnny Hekker, St. Louis|
|Kick returner||Tyler Lockett, Seattle|
The following were named the top performers during the 2015 season:
Player of the Week/Month
Player of the Week/Month
Player of the Week/Month
|1|| Marcus Mariota |
| Julio Jones |
| Aqib Talib |
| Aaron Donald |
| Jarvis Landry |
| Tavon Austin |
|2|| Ben Roethlisberger |
| Larry Fitzgerald |
| Darrelle Revis |
| Sean Lee |
| Travis Benjamin |
| David Johnson |
|3|| A. J. Green |
| Aaron Rodgers |
| Preston Brown |
| Tyrann Mathieu |
| Pat McAfee |
| Darren Sproles |
|Sept.|| Tom Brady |
|Julio Jones |
| DeMarcus Ware |
| Josh Norman |
| Stephen Gostkowski |
| Tyler Lockett |
|4|| Philip Rivers |
| Drew Brees |
| T. J. Ward |
|Josh Norman |
| Justin Tucker |
| Robbie Gould |
|5|| Josh McCown |
| Eli Manning |
| Mike Adams |
| Fletcher Cox |
| Mike Nugent |
| Bobby Rainey |
|6|| DeAndre Hopkins |
| Calvin Johnson |
| Cameron Wake |
| Kawann Short |
| Chris Boswell |
| Michael Mauti |
|7|| Ryan Tannehill |
| Kirk Cousins |
| Telvin Smith |
| Michael Bennett |
|Stephen Gostkowski |
| Dwayne Harris |
|Oct.|| Andy Dalton |
| Devonta Freeman |
| Charles Woodson |
|Kawann Short |
| Brandon McManus |
| Johnny Hekker |
|8||Tom Brady |
|Drew Brees |
| Derek Wolfe |
| Kwon Alexander |
|Justin Tucker |
| Marcus Sherels |
|9||Marcus Mariota |
| Cam Newton |
| Darius Butler |
| Linval Joseph |
| Ryan Quigley |
| Josh Brown |
|10||Ben Roethlisberger |
|Kirk Cousins |
| Bacarri Rambo |
| Terence Newman |
|Stephen Gostkowski |
| Ameer Abdullah |
|11|| Brock Osweiler |
|Cam Newton |
| J. J. Watt |
| Lavonte David |
| Dustin Colquitt |
| Mason Crosby |
|12|| C. J. Anderson |
| Russell Wilson |
| Leon Hall |
| Luke Kuechly |
| Will Hill |
| Sam Martin |
|Nov.|| Antonio Brown |
| Adrian Peterson |
|J. J. Watt |
|Tyrann Mathieu |
| Adam Vinatieri |
| Graham Gano |
|13|| Brandon Marshall |
|Cam Newton |
| Tyvon Branch |
| Malcolm Jenkins |
| Antonio Brown |
| Dan Bailey |
|14|| Ryan Fitzpatrick |
|Eli Manning |
| Khalil Mack |
|Aaron Donald |
| Rashad Greene |
| Chandler Catanzaro |
|15||Antonio Brown |
|Cam Newton |
| Marcus Peters |
| Deone Bucannon |
| Carlos Dunlap |
| Benny Cunningham |
|16||Ryan Fitzpatrick |
|Julio Jones |
| Robert Mathis |
| Dwight Freeney |
| Marquette King |
| Blair Walsh |
|Dec.||Antonio Brown |
|Kirk Cousins |
| Whitney Mercilus |
|Kawann Short |
|Chris Boswell |
|Tyler Lockett |
|17|| Ronnie Hillman |
|Cam Newton |
|J. J. Watt |
| Everson Griffen |
| D. J. Alexander |
|Tyler Lockett |
|Team||2014 head coach||2014 interim head coach||Reason for leaving||2015 replacement||Story/Accomplishments|
|Atlanta Falcons||Mike Smith||Fired||Dan Quinn||Smith compiled a record of 67–50 (.573), including the postseason, in seven seasons with the Falcons. He is the only coach to lead the franchise to consecutive winning seasons and consecutive playoff berths. |
Quinn, who never held a head coaching position prior to 2015, had served as defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks. Due to league anti-tampering rules, the Falcons had to wait until after the completion of the Seahawks' playoff run, before formally hiring Quinn.
|Buffalo Bills||Doug Marrone||Resigned||Rex Ryan||Marrone compiled a record of 15–17 (.469) in two seasons with the Bills and resigned on December 31, 2014. His tenure was marked by the team's first winning season since 2004 but also by tensions with general manager Doug Whaley and players, especially Mike Williams, who requested a trade during the season. Marrone's contract had an opt-out clause which allowed him to resign his position within three days of the end of the season and still collect his full salary for the rest of the contract (he had one year remaining) if the team changed ownership which it did when the Bills were sold to the Pegula family in September. Marrone joined the Jacksonville Jaguars as offensive line coach. |
On January 12, 2015, the Bills hired Rex Ryan as their head coach. Ryan had spent the previous six seasons as head coach of the New York Jets.
|Chicago Bears||Marc Trestman||Fired||John Fox||Trestman compiled a record of 13–19 (.406) in two seasons with the Bears, and had finished the 2014 season with a 5–11 record. He and general manager Phil Emery were both dismissed on December 29, 2014. Trestman then became offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens.|
|Denver Broncos||John Fox||Mutual decision||Gary Kubiak||In four seasons with the Broncos, Fox compiled a record of 49–22 (.690) including postseason games, won his division all four seasons, and appeared in Super Bowl XLVIII, but was bounced from the playoffs in the divisional round the other three years. By mutual agreement, Fox left the team on January 12, 2015, following the most recent divisional playoff loss. |
Kubiak was hired on January 19, 2015 to become the head coach. Kubiak, formerly head coach of the Houston Texans from 2006 to 2013, spent the past season as the offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.
|New York Jets||Rex Ryan||Fired||Todd Bowles||Ryan compiled a record of 50–52 (.490), including postseason games, in six seasons as head coach of the Jets. Ryan led the Jets to two AFC Championship Game appearances in his first two seasons, losing both, but failed to earn a winning season or playoff berth in his last four. He and general manager John Idzik, Jr. were both dismissed on December 29, 2014. |
Bowles was hired on January 14, 2015, to become their head coach after serving as defensive coordinator for Arizona Cardinals since 2013; he previously served as interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2011.
|Oakland Raiders||Dennis Allen||Tony Sparano||Fired||Jack Del Rio||Allen was fired on September 29, 2014 after an 8–28 (.222) record as Raiders head coach, and an 0–4 start to the 2014 season. Allen joined the staff of the New Orleans Saints for the 2015 season. |
Jack Del Rio was hired on January 14, 2015, to become their head coach after serving as defensive coordinator for Denver Broncos since 2012; he previously served as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003 to 2011.
|San Francisco 49ers||Jim Harbaugh||Mutual decision||Jim Tomsula||Harbaugh compiled a record of 49–22–1 (.688), including postseason games, in four seasons with the 49ers, and led the team to three NFC Championship Game appearances and a berth in Super Bowl XLVII. After a mediocre 8–8 season in 2014 (the first time his team did not make the playoffs) and amid tensions between Harbaugh and the 49ers front office, Harbaugh left to become head coach at his college alma mater, the University of Michigan. |
On January 14, 2015, Jim Tomsula was promoted to head coach after serving as defensive line coach with the team since 2007; it is his second time at the helm, as he previously served as the 49ers' interim head coach for one game, after Mike Singletary's firing in 2010.
|Team||2015 head coach||Reason for leaving||Interim replacement||Story/Accomplishments|
|Miami Dolphins||Joe Philbin||Fired||Dan Campbell||Philbin compiled a record of 24–28 (.462), with no playoff appearances, in 3¼ seasons as head coach of the Dolphins. The Dolphins were expected to be contenders for a playoff position in 2015 but grossly underachieved, starting the season 1–3, which led to Philbin's firing. Campbell, the team's tight ends coach, took over for the rest of the season.|
|Tennessee Titans||Ken Whisenhunt||Mike Mularkey||Whisenhunt compiled a record of 3–20 (.130), with no playoff appearances, in 1½ seasons as head coach of the Titans. After an impressive opening day win, the Titans lost six straight, resulting in Whisenhunt's dismissal. Mularkey, the team's tight ends coach, took over as interim head coach. Mularkey's previous head coaching experience includes two seasons with the Buffalo Bills (2004–05) and one season with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2012).|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Chip Kelly||Pat Shurmur||Kelly compiled a record of 26–21 (.553) in almost three years with the Eagles. He led the team to the playoffs in 2013, but lost in the Wild Card. He was fired from both his head coach and de facto general manager positions when the team, after its ninth loss of the season, was eliminated from postseason contention with one game remaining on the schedule. Shurmur, the Eagles' offensive coordinator, filled in as head coach for the team's last game; he previously coached the Cleveland Browns from 2011 to 2012.|
|Team||Position||2014 office holder||Reason for leaving||2015 replacement||Story/Accomplishments|
|New York Jets||GM||John Idzik||Fired||Mike Maccagnan||Idzik was fired after two seasons with the New York Jets. He then joined the staff of the Jacksonville Jaguars as a consultant.|
|Chicago Bears||GM||Phil Emery||Ryan Pace||Emery was fired after three seasons in Chicago.|
|Philadelphia Eagles||EVP-FO||Tom Gamble||Howie Roseman||Roseman, who served as General Manager of the Eagles from 2010 to 2014, was promoted up to Executive Vice President of Football Operations. The General Manager position Roseman leaves behind remained unfilled, and head coach Chip Kelly fulfilled the duties of that position until his Week 16 firing.|
|Team||Position||2015 office holder||Reason for leaving||2015 replacement||Story/Accomplishments|
|Detroit Lions||GM||Martin Mayhew||Fired||Sheldon White (interim)||After starting the season 1–6, the Lions fired offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. One week later, after another loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, owner Martha Firestone Ford fired Mayhew and Lewland.|
|President||Tom Lewand||Rod Wood|
|Philadelphia Eagles||VP- Player Personnel||Ed Marynowitz||Tom Donahoe||Vice President of Player Personnel Ed Marynowitz was fired alongside Head Coach Chip Kelly on December 29, 2015. Donahoe last served as president and general manager of the Buffalo Bills from 2001 to 2005 but has largely been out of football in the ten years since his firing from that position.|
|GM (de facto)||Chip Kelly||Howie Roseman||Roseman, who carried the title of "executive vice president of football operations" while Kelly handled general manager duties in 2015, reverted to his previous general manager duties after Kelly's firing.|
The stadium in Nashville where the Tennessee Titans play their home games was renamed Nissan Stadium in an agreement with automobile manufacturer Nissan. Though financial terms remain undisclosed, the naming rights deal is expected to last for twenty years. Nissan operates two plants in Tennessee and is one of middle Tennessee's largest employers. Since 2006, the facility had been branded as "LP Field," under a naming rights agreement with Nashville-based building materials manufacturer Louisiana-Pacific. This is the third name change for the venue since its 1999 opening.
The Minnesota Vikings played at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis for the second straight season.The Vikings arranged to play there for two years after their former home, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, was closed after the 2013 season and demolished so U.S. Bank Stadium, their new stadium, could be built on the site. In August, a construction worker who was working on the new stadium died in a fall from the structure's roof.
NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans, converted from a natural grass field to an artificial turf field after week 1. Despite various attempts to improve field conditions, players from both the Texans and the visiting Kansas City Chiefs complained of poor field conditions in their week 1 game. The decision to convert was made 5 days later, and the turf field was installed in time for the Texans next home game against Tampa Bay in Week 3.
The team's lease at the Oakland Coliseum expired after the 2013 season, and the Raiders after that point became tenants of the Coliseum on a year-to-year basis.
On July 29, 2014, reports surfaced that the Oakland Raiders might consider relocating to San Antonio in 2015 after owner Mark Davis met with San Antonio civic leaders the week before at the encouragement of former Raider Cliff Branch, whom Davis was in town to visit for a local ceremony for Branch. The Raiders themselves acknowledged Davis being in San Antonio for the event for Branch before news broke about a possible relocation, but would not confirm nor deny that Davis also mentioned being there discussing moving his team east.Among the two existing NFL teams in Texas, Houston Texans' then-owner Bob McNair and Dallas Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones—the latter of which has San Antonio as part of his territorial rights and previously voiced support of an NFL team moving there when the New Orleans Saints temporarily played in San Antonio in 2005 due to damages to the Superdome following Hurricane Katrina — both favored an NFL team playing in San Antonio.
On September 3, 2014, the city of Oakland reached a tentative deal to build a new football stadium in Oakland, which would have resulted in the Coliseum being demolished; Davis did not respond to the proposal, which would have also forced the Oakland Athletics to build a new stadium of their own (which they did not agree to do), while Alameda County (then co-owners of the coliseum) indicated they would probably not have supported the plan.Davis, in the meantime, had team officials scout the Alamodome to determine if it would be suitable for the NFL.
On February 19, 2015, the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers announced plans for a privately financed $1.7 billion stadium that the two teams would build in Carson, California, if they were to move to the Los Angeles market. 125-mile (201 km) distance from Los Angeles and had Los Angeles as a secondary market. The Chargers had been looking to replace Qualcomm Stadium (which, like the O.co Coliseum opened in the late 1960s) since at least 2003, and had an annual out clause in which it could move in exchange for paying a fine to the city of San Diego for its remaining years on its lease.Such a move would have marked a return to the nation's second-largest market for both teams; the Raiders played in Los Angeles from 1982 to 1994 while the Chargers called LA home for their inaugural season in the American Football League. The Chargers were at the time the only NFL team to play in Southern California, with San Diego being a
Due to television contracts, NFL bylaws, and being in the same division if both of the longstanding division rivals moved to Los Angeles, one of the teams would have had to move to the National Football Conference and the NFC West, something that Mark Davis volunteered the Raiders to be willing to do. The Raiders' move to the National Football Conference and the NFC West would have been considered ironic because Davis's father Al Davis was a staunch opponent of the NFL during its rivalry and eventual merger with the AFL. If such a realignment had occurred, one of the existing NFC West teams would have took their spot in the AFC West. The early rumor was that the Seattle Seahawks, who played in the AFC West from 1977 to 2001, would have been the favorite to switch conferences with the Raiders. However, that team's then growing rivalry with the San Francisco 49ers (who are assured of staying in the NFC West) pointed to either the Arizona Cardinals or the St. Louis Rams (if the latter had stayed in St. Louis) moving to the AFC West to take the Raiders' spot. If the Rams stayed in St. Louis, switching them to the AFC would have allowed for a yearly home-and-home with the cross-state Kansas City Chiefs.
On October 23, 2015, Chargers spokesperson Mark Fabiani confirmed that the team planned to officially notify the NFL about its intentions to relocate to Los Angeles in January during the timetable for when teams can request to relocate.
The Rams and the St. Louis CVC (Convention & Visitors Commission) began negotiating deals to get the Rams' home stadium, the Edward Jones Dome, into the top 25 percent of stadiums in the league (i.e., top eight teams of the thirty-two NFL teams in reference to luxury boxes, amenities and overall fan experience). Under the terms of the lease agreement, the St. Louis CVC was required to make modifications to the Edward Jones Dome in 2005. However, then-owner Georgia Frontiere waived the provision in exchange for cash that served as a penalty for the city's noncompliance. The City of St. Louis, in subsequent years, made changes to the scoreboard and increased the natural lighting by replacing panels with windows, although the overall feel remained dark. The minor renovations which totaled about $70 million did not bring the stadium within the specifications required under the lease agreement. On February 1, 2013, an arbitrator (3 panel) selected to preside over the arbitration process found that the Edward Jones Dome was not in the top 25% of all NFL venues as required under the terms of the lease agreement between the Rams and the CVC. The arbitrator further found that the estimated $700 million in proposed renovations by the Rams was not unreasonable given the terms of the lease agreement. Finally, the City of St. Louis was Ordered to pay the Rams attorneys' fees which totaled a reported $2 million.
Publicly, city, county and state officials expressed no interest in providing further funding to the Edward Jones Dome in light of those entities, as well as taxpayers, continuing to owe approximately $300 million more on that facility. As such, if a resolution was not reached by the end of the 2014–15 NFL season and the City of St. Louis remained non-compliant in its obligations under the lease agreement, the Rams were free to nullify their lease and relocate.
On January 31, 2014, both the Los Angeles Times and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Rams owner Stan Kroenke had purchased 60 acres of land adjacent to the Forum in Inglewood, Los Angeles County, California. It was, by the most conservative estimates, sufficient land on which an NFL-proper stadium could be constructed. The purchase price was rumored to have been US$90–100 million. Commissioner Roger Goodell represented that Kroenke informed the league of the purchase. As an NFL owner, any purchase of land in which a potential stadium could be built must be disclosed to the league. This development further fueled rumors that the Rams intended to return its management and football operations to Southern California. The land was initially targeted for a Walmart Supercenter but Walmart could not get the necessary permits to build the center. Kroenke is married to Ann Walton Kroenke, who is a member of the Walton family and many of Kroenke's real estate deals have involved Walmart properties.On January 5, 2015, The Los Angeles Times reported that Kroenke Sports & Entertainment and Stockbridge Capital Group were partnering to develop a new NFL stadium owned by Kroenke. The project included a stadium of up to 80,000 seats and a performance venue of 6,000 seats while reconfiguring the previously approved Hollywood Park plan for up to 890,000 square feet of retail, 780,000 square feet of office space, 2,500 new residential units, a 300-room hotel and 25 acres of public parks, playgrounds, open space and pedestrian and bicycle access. In lieu of this the city of St. Louis responded on January 9, 2015, by unveiling an outdoor, open-air, riverfront stadium that could accommodate the Rams and an MLS team with the hopes that the NFL bylaws would force them to stay. On February 24, 2015, the Inglewood City Council approved the stadium and the initiative with construction on the stadium beginning in December 2015.
With the Chargers, Raiders and Rams proposing their own stadiums as part of their Los Angeles relocation contingency plans, the proposed Farmers Field project was permanently scrapped in March 2015.Farmers Field was a proposal from Anschutz Entertainment Group to lure an NFL team to Los Angeles by promising a new stadium, but AEG placed restrictions on any relocation that the rest of the league found unacceptable, and the project had lain dormant since 2012.
To mark the 50th Super Bowl, various gold-themed promotions and initiatives were held during the 2015 season, including gold-tinted logos across all NFL properties, the numbering of the 50-yard line on fields being painted in gold, sideline jackets and hats featuring gold-trimmed logos from week 7 onward, and Pro Bowl jersey designs incorporating gold numbering. Gold footballs were given to each high school that has had a player or coach appear in the Super Bowl, and "homecoming" events were held by teams at games.
Through their first two home games, the Oakland Raiders declined to participate in the use of gold paint to mark the 50-yard line. On September 22, Sports Business Daily reported that NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy stated it was because the Oakland Athletics were still playing at the O.co Coliseum (the only stadium that is still shared by both an NFL team and a Major League Baseball team, which forces the Raiders to play on its dirt infield until the baseball season concludes), but the Coliseum's General Manager Chris Wright responded by saying that the Raiders told him not to apply the gold marks for the remaining regular season games.One day later, Raiders owner Mark Davis confirmed that the gold markings would be used after the conclusion of the Athletics season, boasting that because they had appeared in five of them, "nobody respects the Super Bowl more than Raiders".
After it had been leaked months before by the Packers that both teams were allowed to wear their colored jerseys for Thursday Night Football contests,on October 30, 2015, the NFL announced "Color Rush," a series of four Thursday contests in which all eight teams will wear one-time, specially designed and monochromatic alternate uniforms. The Carolina Panthers and Tennessee Titans wore their regular alternate uniforms (with the Panthers debuting "Carolina blue" pants), while the Dallas Cowboys revived their white "Double Star" uniforms from the mid-1990s (while debuting white pants) and the St. Louis Rams wore a gold version of their 1973–99 throwbacks for the games. The other four teams involved (Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers) wore all-new uniforms for the games. The November 12 game between the Bills and Jets was particularly problematic, with the Bills' all-red uniforms (the first time the team has ever worn a red jersey on the field) and the Jets' kelly green outfits being indistinguishable to those with color blindness.
This was the second season under broadcast contracts with ESPN, CBS, Fox, and NBC. This included "cross-flexing" (switching) Sunday afternoon games between CBS and Fox before or during the season, regardless of whether the visiting team is in the AFC (which CBS normally airs) or the NFC (which is normally carried by Fox). NBC continued to air Sunday Night Football, the annual Kickoff game, and the primetime Thanksgiving game. ESPN continued carrying Monday Night Football and the Pro Bowl. Under a new eight-year deal, DirecTV continued to be the exclusive distributor of the NFL Sunday Ticket service.
On May 12, 2015, it was announced that ABC would simulcast ESPN's wildcard game, marking the first time that ABC has broadcast any NFL game in nearly 10 years.Fox also expanded its pre-game coverage by moving Fox NFL Kickoff to the main Fox network from Fox Sports 1, serving as a lead-in to Fox NFL Sunday .
After its successful inaugural season under the arrangement, the NFL extended CBS's contract for Thursday Night Football into the 2015 season; as with the previous season, CBS produced all games, and the first seven games (weeks 2-7), as well as week 13, were broadcast by the CBS network. All games, including those not aired by CBS, were broadcast by NFL Network.The package also included one Saturday game in Week 15 and one in Week 16, both exclusive to NFL Network
On March 23, 2015, league owners voted to, as an experiment, suspend the NFL's blackout rules for the 2015 season; no games were blacked out in their home markets because of insufficient ticket sales. These moves came after the Federal Communications Commission's September 2014 decision to stop enforcing blackout rules on terrestrial television stations, and the fact that, ultimately, no games were blacked out at all during the 2014 season.
The NFL also experimented with online streaming as part of the International Series game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Buffalo Bills. The game was streamed worldwide by Yahoo!, who handled hosting, promotion, and advertising sales for the stream, while CBS produced the telecast.The game only aired on television in the team's home markets (in accordance with NFL policies), as well as in the United Kingdom on BBC Two and Sky Sports, and in China. Brian Rolapp, the league's executive vice president of media, explained that the experiment was part of the NFL's efforts to attempt alternative distribution models for games, such as those that would appeal to viewers who do not subscribe to pay television. Yahoo! was reported to have paid $15 million for the rights fees, plus an additional $2 million "marketing fee," and beat out Amazon.com, Twitter, and YouTube—some of whom had made higher bids but would have planned to place the broadcast behind a paywall, which the league resisted.
The NFL entered into a social media partnership with Snapchat to present live stories with behind-the-scenes and fan perspectives from selected games.
|Rank||Date||Matchup||Network||Viewers (millions)||TV rating||Window||Significance|
|1||November 26, 4:30 ET||Carolina Panthers||33||Dallas Cowboys||14||CBS||32.5||14.3||Thanksgiving|
|2||November 1, 4:25 ET||Seattle Seahawks||13||Dallas Cowboys||12||Fox||29.4||17||Late DH|
|3||December 13, 4:25 ET||Dallas Cowboys||7||Green Bay Packers||28||28.9||16.5||Late DH|
|4||December 6, 4:25 ET||Carolina Panthers||41||New Orleans Saints||38||28.6||16.3||Late DH [a]|
|5||November 15, 4:25 ET||New England Patriots||27||New York Giants||26||CBS||28.3||16.3||Late DH [b]||Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI rematch|
|6||November 26, 8:30 ET||Chicago Bears||17||Green Bay Packers||13||NBC||27.8||13.8||SNF||Bears–Packers Rivalry|
|7||December 27, 4:25 ET||Green Bay Packers||8||Arizona Cardinals||38||Fox||27.8||15.5||Late DH [c]|
|8||November 22, 4:25 ET||Green Bay Packers||30||Minnesota Vikings||13||27.4||16.2||Late DH [d]||Packers–Vikings Rivalry|
|9||September 10, 8:30 ET||Pittsburgh Steelers||21||New England Patriots||28||NBC||27.4||16.2||Kickoff Game|
|10||September 20, 4:25 ET||Dallas Cowboys||20||Philadelphia Eagles||10||Fox||27.2||15.5||Late DH||Cowboys–Eagles Rivalry|
*Note — Late DH matchups listed in table are the matchups that were shown to the largest percentage of the market.
|Rank||Game||Date||Matchup||Network||Viewers (millions)||TV Rating|
|1||Super Bowl 50||February 7, 2016, 6:30 ET||Carolina Panthers||10||Denver Broncos||24||CBS||111.9||46.6|
|2||AFC Championship||January 24, 2016, 3:05 ET||New England Patriots||18||Denver Broncos||20||53.3||31.7|
|3||NFC Championship||January 24, 2016, 6:40 ET||Arizona Cardinals||15||Carolina Panthers||49||Fox||45.7||26.8|
|4||Divisional Round||January 17, 2016, 4:40 ET||Pittsburgh Steelers||16||Denver Broncos||23||CBS||43.0||26.2|
|5||Wild Card Round||January 10, 2016, 4:40 ET||Green Bay Packers||35||Washington Redskins||18||Fox||38.8||23.6|
|6||Divisional Round||January 17, 2016, 1:05 ET||Seattle Seahawks||24||Carolina Panthers||31||36.7||23.1|
|7||Wild Card Round||January 10, 2016, 1:05 ET||Seattle Seahawks||10||Minnesota Vikings||9||NBC||35.3||22.5|
|8||Divisional Round||January 16, 2016 8:15 ET||Green Bay Packers||20||Arizona Cardinals||26||33.7||20.3|
|9||Divisional Round||January 16, 2016, 4:35 ET||Kansas City Chiefs||20||New England Patriots||27||CBS||31.5||19.7|
|10||Wild Card Round||January 9, 2016, 8:15 ET||Pittsburgh Steelers||18||Cincinnati Bengals||16||31.2||19.2|
|11||Wild Card Round||January 9, 2016, 4:20 ET||Kansas City Chiefs||30||Houston Texans||0||ESPN/ABC||25.1||16.2|
The Denver Broncos are a professional American football franchise based in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's American Football Conference (AFC) West division. The team is headquartered in Dove Valley, Colorado and plays home games at Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado.
The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL). It has served as the final game of every NFL season since 1966, replacing the NFL Championship Game. Since 2004, the game has been played on the first Sunday in February. Winning teams are awarded with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, named after the eponymous coach who won the first two Super Bowl games. Due to the NFL restricting use of its "Super Bowl" trademark, it is frequently referred to as the "big game" or other generic terms by non-sponsoring corporations.
Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. is an American football quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League (NFL). He spent his first 20 seasons with the New England Patriots, where he was a central contributor to the franchise's dynasty from 2001 to 2019. Brady is widely considered to be the greatest quarterback of all time.
Peyton Williams Manning is an American former football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 18 seasons. Considered to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, he spent 14 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and four with the Denver Broncos. Manning is also one of the NFL's most recognizable players, earning the nickname "the Sheriff" due to his tendency to audible prior to the snap. The second son of former NFL quarterback Archie Manning and older brother of former NFL quarterback Eli Manning, he played college football at Tennessee, with whom he won the 1997 SEC Championship Game and earned MVP honors.
Elisha Nelson Manning is a former American football quarterback who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 16 seasons with the New York Giants. After playing college football at Ole Miss, he was selected first overall in the 2004 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers and traded to the Giants during the draft. He is the youngest son of former NFL quarterback Archie Manning and younger brother of former NFL quarterback Peyton Manning.
Richard Joseph Gannon is a former American football quarterback who played eighteen seasons in the National Football League (NFL). Subsequently, he was a sports commentator with CBS Sports for 16 seasons.
John Terrence Lynch Jr. is an American football executive and former strong safety who is the current general manager of the San Francisco 49ers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Stanford University, and was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round of the 1993 NFL Draft.
The 2010 NFL season was the 91st regular season of the National Football League and the 45th of the Super Bowl era.
Cameron Jerrell Newton is an American football quarterback who is a free agent. He played his first nine seasons in the National Football League (NFL) with the Carolina Panthers, who selected him first overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. Newton had college football stints at Florida and Blinn before joining Auburn, where he won the Bowl Champion Series National Championship and Heisman Trophy in 2010. Nicknamed "Super Cam", he is the NFL career leader in quarterback rushing touchdowns at 70.
The history of the Denver Broncos American football club began when the team was chartered a member of the American Football League in 1960. The Broncos have played in the city of Denver, Colorado throughout their entire history. The Broncos did not win any titles as members of the AFL. Since the 1970 AFL–NFL merger, the Broncos have won 15 division titles, and played in eight Super Bowls, following the 1977, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1997, 1998, 2013, and 2015 seasons. They won Super Bowl XXXII, Super Bowl XXXIII and Super Bowl 50. Their most famous player is former quarterback John Elway, starting quarterback in five Super Bowls and holder of many NFL records. The Broncos currently play in the National Football League's AFC West division. Their current leadership includes owner Pat Bowlen, CEO Joe Ellis, VP John Elway, and head coach Vic Fangio.
The 2008 NFL season was the 89th regular season of the National Football League, themed with the slogan "Believe in Now."
The 2009 NFL season was the 90th season in the history of the National Football League (NFL). The 50th anniversary of the original eight charter members of the American Football League was celebrated during this season.
The 2011 NFL season was the 92nd regular season of the National Football League and the 46th of the Super Bowl era. It began on Thursday, September 8, 2011, with the Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay Packers defeating the Super Bowl XLIV champion New Orleans Saints 42–34 at Lambeau Field and ended with Super Bowl XLVI, the league's championship game, on February 5, 2012, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis where the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 21–17.
The 2013 NFL season was the 94th season in the history of the National Football League (NFL) and the 48th of the Super Bowl era. The season saw the Seattle Seahawks capture the first championship in the franchise's 38 years in the league with a lopsided 43–8 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, the league's championship game. The Super Bowl was played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday, February 2, 2014. It was the first Super Bowl hosted by New Jersey and the first to be held outdoors in a cold weather environment. The Seahawks scored 12 seconds into the game and held the lead the rest of the way on the back of their Legion of Boom defense.
Bruce Pernell Irvin Jr. is an American football outside linebacker who is a free agent. He was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Irvin won Super Bowl XLVIII over the Denver Broncos, and also played in Super Bowl XLIX where he became the first player ever to be ejected from a Super Bowl. He played college football at West Virginia.
Brock Alan Osweiler is a former American football quarterback. He played college football at Arizona State University and was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Jermaine Levan Kearse is a former American football wide receiver. He played eight seasons in National Football League (NFL). He was signed by the Seattle Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2012 and later won Super Bowl XLVIII with the team, beating the Denver Broncos. Kearse played college football at Washington. Kearse also played for the New York Jets and Detroit Lions.
The 2016 NFL season was the 97th season in the history of the National Football League (NFL) and the 51st of the Super Bowl era. The season began on September 8, 2016, with the defending Super Bowl 50 champion Denver Broncos defeating the Carolina Panthers 21–20 in the NFL Kickoff Game in a rematch of the Super Bowl. The season concluded with Super Bowl LI, the league's championship game on February 5, 2017, at NRG Stadium in Houston with the New England Patriots defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34–28 in overtime.
Super Bowl 50 was an American football game to determine the champion of the National Football League (NFL) for the 2015 season. The American Football Conference (AFC) champion Denver Broncos defeated the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Carolina Panthers, 24–10. The game was played on February 7, 2016, at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area. As this was the 50th Super Bowl game, the league emphasized the "golden anniversary" with various gold-themed initiatives during the 2015 season, as well as suspending the tradition of naming each Super Bowl game with Roman numerals, so the logo could prominently feature the number 50 in more familiar Arabic numerals.
The 2017 NFL season was the 98th season in the history of the National Football League (NFL) and the 52nd of the Super Bowl era. The season began on September 7, 2017, with the Kansas City Chiefs defeating the defending Super Bowl LI champion New England Patriots 42–27 in the NFL Kickoff Game. The season concluded with Super Bowl LII, where the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Philadelphia Eagles faced the American Football Conference (AFC) champion New England Patriots. The Eagles defeated the Patriots 41–33 to win their first Super Bowl title, and fourth NFL championship, in franchise history.