1989 NFL Season
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1989 NFL Season

1989 National Football League season
Regular season
DurationSeptember 10 - December 25, 1989
Start dateDecember 31, 1989
AFC ChampionsDenver Broncos
NFC ChampionsSan Francisco 49ers
Super Bowl XXIV
DateJanuary 28, 1990
SiteLouisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
ChampionsSan Francisco 49ers
Pro Bowl
DateFebruary 2, 1990
SiteAloha Stadium

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

Player movement


  • March 27: The Kansas City Chiefs sign Defensive Tackle Dan Saleaumua as a free agent.
  • March 28: The Washington Redskins sign Tight End Ken Whisenhunt as a free agent. Whisenhunt would become an NFL head coach, leading the Arizona Cardinals to an appearance in Super Bowl XLIII.
  • March 31: The San Francisco 49ers sign Wide Receiver Mike Sherrard as a free agent.[1]
  • April 13: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sign Kicker John Carney as a free agent.[2]
  • June 13: The 49ers sign quarterback Steve Bono as a free agent.[3]


  • May 30, 1989: The Arizona Cardinals traded David Treadwell to the Denver Broncos.[4]
  • June 5, 1989: The Dallas Cowboys traded Steve DeOssie to the New York Giants.[5]
  • August 7: The Dallas Cowboys trade quarterback Scott Secules to the Miami Dolphins. [6]
  • August 18: The Chicago Bears trade quarterback Jim McMahon to the San Diego Chargers
  • August 30: The San Diego Chargers trade punter Ralf Mojsiejenko to Washington
  • September 4: The New York Jets trade center Guy Bingham to the Atlanta Falcons.[7]
  • September 6: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers trade defensive end Ron Holmes to the Denver Broncos


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

  • After a foul that occurs inside the last two minutes of the first half and inside the last five minutes of the second half or overtime, the game clock will start at the snap, instead of when the ball is spotted and the Referee signals it is ready to be played.
  • New rules were enacted, including loss of timeouts or five-yard penalties, to handle the problem of crowd noise when it becomes too loud for the offensive team to hear its signals.
  • If a receiver and a defender eventually establish joint control of a pass, the ball will be awarded to whoever was the first player to establish control of the ball.
  • While not a rule "change" per se, the "hurry up offense" was recognized as fully legal, and penalties for delay of game would be called against teams whose defenders faked injuries in order to slow down the tempo, unless those teams called for timeouts.

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.

Date Winning Team Score Losing Team Score Stadium City
August 6, 1989 Los Angeles Rams 16 San Francisco 49ers 13 Tokyo Dome Japan Tokyo
August 6, 1989 Philadelphia Eagles 17 Cleveland Browns 13 Wembley Stadium United Kingdom 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 Tom Benson Hall of Fame 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


  • Indianapolis finished ahead of Miami in the AFC East based on better conference record (7-5 vs. Dolphins' 6-8).
  • Houston finished ahead of Pittsburgh in the AFC Central based on head-to-head sweep (2-0).
  • Philadelphia was first NFC Wild Card ahead of L.A. Rams based on better record against common opponents (7-3 to Rams' 5-4).
  • Minnesota finished ahead of Green Bay in the NFC Central based on better division record (6-2 vs. Packers' 5-3).


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
5 LA Rams 19*
Dec. 31 - Veterans Stadium Jan. 14 - Candlestick Park
2 NY Giants 13
5 LA Rams 21 5 LA Rams 3
Jan. 6 - Candlestick Park
4 Philadelphia 7 1 San Francisco 30
NFC Championship
3 Minnesota 13
Jan. 28 - Louisiana Superdome
1 San Francisco 41
Divisional playoffs
Wild Card playoffs N1 San Francisco 55
Jan. 6 - Cleveland Stadium
A1 Denver 10
Super Bowl XXIV
3 Buffalo 30
Dec. 31 - Astrodome Jan. 14 - Mile High Stadium
2 Cleveland 34
5 Pittsburgh 26* 2 Cleveland 21
Jan. 7 - Mile High Stadium
4 Houston 23 1 Denver 37
AFC Championship
5 Pittsburgh 23
1 Denver 24

* Indicates overtime victory

Statistical leaders


Points scored San Francisco 49ers (442)
Total yards gained San Francisco 49ers (6,268)
Yards rushing Cincinnati Bengals (2,483)
Yards passing Washington Redskins (4,349)
Fewest points allowed Denver Broncos (226)
Fewest total yards allowed Minnesota Vikings (4,184)
Fewest rushing yards allowed New Orleans Saints (1,326)
Fewest passing yards allowed Minnesota Vikings (2,501)


Coaching changes



Uniform changes

  • The Dallas Cowboys removed the elliptical blue circles with the player's number from the hip area of the pants
  • The Green Bay Packers removed the helmet monogram from their jersey sleeves
  • The Kansas City Chiefs began wearing their white pants with their white jerseys, discontinuing their red pants. It was the first time the Chiefs wore white pants with their white jerseys since 1967. The red pants returned in 2000.
  • The Miami Dolphins introduced aqua pants to be worn with their white jerseys. They were not worn again in 1989 after a 39-7 loss at Houston in week four, but returned full-time in 1990.
  • The Phoenix Cardinals added the flag of Arizona on top of the sleeve stripes of their white jerseys


  1. ^ "1989 NFL Transactions: Signings - March". nfl.com. Retrieved 2020.
  2. ^ "1989 NFL Transactions: Signings - April". nfl.com. Retrieved 2020.
  3. ^ "1989 NFL Transactions: Signings - June". nfl.com. Retrieved 2020.
  4. ^ "1989 NFL Transactions: Trades - May". nfl.com. Retrieved 2020.
  5. ^ "1989 NFL Transactions: Trades - June". nfl.com. Retrieved 2020.
  6. ^ "1989 NFL Transactions: Signings - August". nfl.com. Retrieved 2020.
  7. ^ "1989 NFL Transactions: Signings - September". nfl.com. Retrieved 2020.
  8. ^ Viking Update Staff (June 20, 2001). "History: Walker Trade". Scout.com. Archived from the original on January 10, 2008. Retrieved 2008.
  9. ^ "Matuszak's Death Caused By Accidental Overdose". The New York Times. June 28, 1989.
  10. ^ https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1989-04-27-sp-1873-story.html
  11. ^ "Former Patriots Player Killed In Robbery - Chicago Tribune". Articles.chicagotribune.com. October 27, 1989. Retrieved 2014.
  12. ^ ""Former Dolphin Wayne Moore, 44, Dies." Miami Herald, Aug. 20, 1989". August 20, 1989.
  13. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1989/11/26/sports/pro-football-no-drug-found-in-falcon.html
  14. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1989/12/19/sports/sports-news-briefs-car-crash-kills-falcon-tight-end.html

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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