1987 NFL season

1987 National Football League season
Regular season
Duration September 13, 1987 – December 28, 1987
A player's strike shortened the regular season to 15 games.
Start date January 3, 1988
AFC Champions Denver Broncos
NFC Champions Washington Redskins
Super Bowl XXII
Date January 31, 1988
Site Jack Murphy Stadium, San Diego, California
Champions Washington Redskins
Pro Bowl
Date February 7, 1988
Site Aloha Stadium
The San Diego Chargers hosting a pre-season game at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium in 1987.

The 1987 NFL season was the 68th regular season of the National Football League. This season feature games predominantly played by replacement players as the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) players were on strike from weeks four to six. The season ended with Super Bowl XXII, with the Washington Redskins defeating the Denver Broncos 42–10 at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego. The Broncos suffered their second consecutive Super Bowl defeat.

The NFLPA Strike

A 24-day players' strike was called after Week 2. The games that were scheduled for the third week of the season were cancelled, reducing the 16-game season to 15, but the games for Weeks 4–6 were played with replacement players, after which the union voted to end the strike. Approximately 15% of the NFLPA's players chose to cross picket lines to play during the strike; prominent players who did so included New York Jets defensive end Mark Gastineau, Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Randy White, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, New England Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Steve Largent.[1] The replacement players were mostly those left out of work by the recent folding of the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes and the 1985 dissolution of the United States Football League, as well as others who had been preseason cuts, had long left professional football or were other assorted oddities (such as cinematographer Todd Schlopy, who, despite never playing professional football before or after the strike, served as placekicker for his hometown Buffalo Bills for three games). The replacement players, called to play on short notice and having little chance to jell as teammates, were widely treated with scorn by the press and general public, including name-calling, public shaming and accusations of being scabs. The games played by these replacement players were regarded with even less legitimacy (attendance plummeted to under 10,000 fans at many of the games in smaller markets, including a low of 4,074 for the lone replacement game played in Philadelphia), but nonetheless were counted as regular NFL games.[2] Final television revenues were down by about 20%, a smaller drop than the networks had expected.[3] The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants went 0–3 in replacement games, ultimately costing them a chance to make the playoffs and to repeat their championship.

Stadium changes/ relocation

The Miami Dolphins opened their new stadium Joe Robbie Stadium. This was also the last year in which the St. Louis Cardinals would play in St. Louis; the team relocated to Tempe, Arizona the following season. St. Louis would go seven seasons without the NFL before the Rams began their 20-year stay in the Gateway City.

Media changes

Starting November 8, 1987, ESPN debuted ESPN Sunday Night Football, in which the cable network broadcast NFL Sunday-night games, primarily during the second half of the season, through 1997. ESPN went on to acquire the Sunday Night package for the entire season in 1998 and held it through 2005, after which time ESPN took over Monday Night Football and the Sunday Night package went to NBC.

Major rule changes

Final standings

W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT = Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against

AFC East
(3) Indianapolis Colts 960.600300238
New England Patriots 870.533320293
Miami Dolphins 870.533362335
Buffalo Bills 780.467270305
New York Jets 690.400334360
AFC Central
(2) Cleveland Browns 1050.667390239
(4) Houston Oilers 960.600345349
Pittsburgh Steelers 870.533285299
Cincinnati Bengals 4110.267285370
AFC West
(1) Denver Broncos 1041.700379288
(5) Seattle Seahawks 960.600371314
San Diego Chargers 870.533253317
Los Angeles Raiders 5100.333301289
Kansas City Chiefs 4110.267273388
NFC East
(3) Washington Redskins 1140.733379285
Dallas Cowboys 780.467340348
St. Louis Cardinals 780.467362368
Philadelphia Eagles 780.467337380
New York Giants 690.400280312
NFC Central
(2) Chicago Bears 1140.733356282
(5) Minnesota Vikings 870.533336335
Green Bay Packers 591.367255300
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4110.267286360
Detroit Lions 4110.267269384
NFC West
(1) San Francisco 49ers 1320.867459253
(4) New Orleans Saints 1230.800422283
Los Angeles Rams 690.400317361
Atlanta Falcons 3120.200205436



Divisional Playoffs
    Jan. 9 – Candlestick Park        
NFC Wild Card Game NFC Championship
 5  Minnesota  36
Jan. 3 – Louisiana Superdome     Jan. 17 – RFK Stadium
 1  San Francisco  24  
 5  Minnesota  44  5  Minnesota  10
Jan. 10 – Soldier Field
 4  New Orleans  10      3  Washington  17   Super Bowl XXII
 3  Washington  21
    Jan. 31 – Jack Murphy Stadium
 2  Chicago  17  
 N3  Washington  42
Jan. 9 – Cleveland Stadium
AFC Wild Card Game AFC Championship    A1  Denver  10
 3  Indianapolis  21
Jan. 3 – Astrodome     Jan. 17 – Mile High Stadium
 2  Cleveland  38  
 5  Seattle  20  2  Cleveland  33
Jan. 10 – Mile High Stadium
 4  Houston  23*      1  Denver  38  
 4  Houston  10
 1  Denver  34  
* Indicates overtime victory


As awarded by the Associated Press
Most Valuable PlayerJohn Elway, Quarterback, Denver
Coach of the YearJim Mora, New Orleans
Offensive Player of the YearJerry Rice, Wide receiver, San Francisco
Defensive Player of the YearReggie White, Defensive end, Philadelphia
Offensive Rookie of the YearTroy Stradford, Running back, Miami
Defensive Rookie of the YearShane Conlan, Linebacker, Buffalo
NFL Comeback Player of the YearCharles White, Running back, LA Rams



  1. http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=6642330
  2. NFL crossed the line on Replacement Sunday, By Clare Farnsworth, Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter
  3. "N.F.L. TV Ratings Drop". New York Times. October 6, 1987. Retrieved September 15, 2009.
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