|2008 National Football League season|
|File:National Football League 2008.svg.png|
The NFL's newly revamped shield.
|Duration||September 4 to December 28, 2008|
|Start date||January 3, 2009|
|AFC Champions||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|NFC Champions||Arizona Cardinals|
|Super Bowl XLIII|
|Date||February 1, 2009|
|Site||Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida|
|Date||February 8, 2009|
|National Football League seasons
The 2008 NFL Season is the 89th season of the National Football League, the major professional American football league in the United States, themed with the slogan "Believe in Now." Super Bowl XLIII, the league's championship game, is scheduled to be played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on February 1 2009.
The regular season began on September 4 with the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants defeating the Washington Redskins 16-7 in the NFL Kickoff game at Giants Stadium. The season concluded with the 2009 Pro Bowl on February 8, 2009 in Aiea, Hawaii, a suburb of Honolulu.
Based on the NFL's scheduling formula, the intraconference and interconference matchups for 2008 are:
|Division||AFC opponent||NFC opponent|
|AFC East||AFC West||NFC West|
|AFC North||AFC South||NFC East|
|AFC South||AFC North||NFC North|
|AFC West||AFC East||NFC South|
|NFC East||AFC North||NFC West|
|NFC North||AFC South||NFC South|
|NFC South||AFC West||NFC North|
|NFC West||AFC East||NFC East|
In preseason games, the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game was played August 3 between the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins, which aired on NBC Sunday Night Football. Washington won the game, 30–16. On April 3, the league revealed the other preseason games which includes the first game of the Toronto Series, which was played August 14 between the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers at Toronto's Rogers Centre. The Bills won that game, 24–21.
The annual NFL Kickoff Game to start the season took place on September 4 and featured the Super Bowl XLII champion New York Giants winning 16-7 against their division rivals, the Washington Redskins, at Giants Stadium. The game's kickoff was ninety minutes earlier than previous years, at 7 p.m. EDT, because of a time conflict with the 2008 Republican National Convention.
Other featured games during the opening week include the NBC Sunday Night Football game between the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts, scheduled for 8:15 p.m. EDT, (the first regular season game at Lucas Oil Stadium and a rematch of Super Bowl XLI), and two Monday Night Football contests, both division rivalries, as part of the now annual doubleheader: Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers at 6:00 p.m. CDT, and the Denver Broncos at the Oakland Raiders at 7:15 p.m. PDT.
Meanwhile, the traditional Thanksgiving Day games will be held on November 27, with the Detroit Lions hosting the Tennessee Titans at 12:30 PM EST on CBS, the Dallas Cowboys' home game following suit on FOX at 3:15 PM CST against the Seattle Seahawks. A third game on NFL Network, featuring the Arizona Cardinals and the Philadelphia Eagles will follow at 8:15 PM EST. It will be the first home game for the Eagles on Thanksgiving Day since 1940, and their first Thanksgiving game at any location since the infamous Bounty Bowl Game in 1989.
The Thursday and Saturday night games will also see a change. Instead of starting on Thanksgiving as in previous years, this year's Thursday night games will begin three weeks prior, on November 6, and run through week 16. Seven Thursday night games and only one Saturday night game will take place, due to federal antitrust legislation that prohibits NFL games on Saturdays during college football season.
Despite NFL tradition to play games on Christmas if the holiday lands on a day of the week when the NFL normally plays, and the fact that Christmas lands on a Thursday in 2008, the NFL opted not to hold a Christmas game this season, instead scheduling all of its week 17 matchups for Sunday.
The 2008 season also is the third season of the use of the "flexible scheduling" for Sunday games starting with Week 11.
This will be the second consecutive season that the league will play at least one regular season game outside the United States as part of its International Series. The contest between the San Diego Chargers and the New Orleans Saints will be played at Wembley Stadium in London on October 26. The Chargers will play at Buffalo the week earlier on October 19 so they can immediately travel to London afterward in order to get used to the time difference.
The league has also approved the Bills' request to play at least one regular season home game at Toronto's Rogers Centre over each of the next five seasons. Team owner Ralph Wilson petitioned the league to play at least one game in Canada to strengthen his club's fan base in Ontario.  The game in Toronto will be on December 7, after the end of the 2008 CFL season, against the Miami Dolphins. CBS will telecast both games regionally; the Toronto game will be carried across Canada on Rogers Sportsnet and City TV.
The NFL's Pro Bowl all-star game at the end of the season will be played at Aloha Stadium in the Honolulu suburb of Aiea, Hawaii for the 30th consecutive season. The league had the option under their current contract to hold the game elsewhere, including the possibility of moving it to the host site of the Super Bowl.
Final regular season standings
|Qualified for playoffs|
Playoff seeds are marked in parentheses
W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PCT = Winning Percentage, PF= Points For, PA = Points Against
|New York Jets||9||7||0||.563||405||356||Details|
|(2) Pittsburgh [a]||12||4||0||.750||347||223||Details|
|(1) Tennessee [e]||13||3||0||.813||375||234||Details|
|(4) San Diego||8||8||0||.500||439||347||Details|
|Kansas City [d]||2||14||0||.125||291||440||Details|
|(1) New York Giants||12||4||0||.750||427||294||Details|
|(2) Carolina [c]||12||4||0||.750||414||329||Details|
- a Miami finished in first place in the AFC East over New England based on a better conference record (8-4 to New England's 7-5).
- b San Diego finished in first place in the AFC West over Denver based on a better division record (51-5 to Denver's 3-3).
- c Baltimore clinched the AFC #6 seed over New England based on a better conference record (8-4 to New England's 7-5).
The following rule changes were passed at the league's annual owners meeting in Palm Beach, Florida during the week of March 31:
- One defensive player will be allowed to wear a radio similar to the one worn by the quarterback to communicate with the coaching staff on the field.
- The "force-out" rule on catches made near the sidelines has been eliminated. A receiver now must come down with the ball and both feet in bounds for a pass to be ruled complete; previously, passes would be ruled complete if the receiver was pushed by a defender while in the air and the official judged that he would have come down in bounds had he not been pushed. However, if a receiver is wrapped up in mid-air by a defender and carried out of bounds before both feet touch the ground, the official can still rule the play a completion.
- The 5-yard incidental grabbing of the face mask penalty has been eliminated; incidental contact will not result in a penalty, though intentional grabbing of the face mask will remain a 15-yard personal foul.
- Teams that win the opening coin toss now have the option to defer the decision until the start of the second half, the same as in college football.
- Field goal attempts that bounce off the goal post are now reviewable under instant replay. This change followed a decision during the previous season during a Browns-Ravens game when Phil Dawson's game-tying field goal hit an upright, then the crossbar and the back of the goal post.
- Legal forward hand offs that touch the ground and attempted snaps when the ball hits the ground before the quarterback touches it are now considered fumbles; previously, forward hand offs were treated as incomplete passes, while a snap that hit the ground before the quarterback touched it was a 5-yard illegal procedure penalty.
Television in the United States
Template:More This is the third season under the league's current television contracts with its American broadcast partners. CBS Sports and FOX Sports will televise Sunday afternoon AFC and NFC games, respectively. For primetime games, NBC will broadcast Sunday Night Football and ESPN will air Monday Night Football. The NFL Network's Run to the Playoffs will also broadcast selected seven Thursday and one Saturday late season night games, although there are reportedly negotiations to move those games to ESPN Classic.
This is also the last NFL season to be broadcast over the air in analog television in the United States; the digital television transition occurs on February 17, 2009, just eight days after the Pro Bowl. Border stations in Canada and Mexico will continue to broadcast in analog; cable stations are unaffected and will be distributed in the format of the cable provider's choice.
ESPN has reduced the on-air roles of sideline reporters Michele Tafoya and Suzy Kolber during the Monday Night Football telecast. Also, Emmitt Smith will be replaced on Sunday NFL Countdown by Cris Carter, who comes over from HBO. Meanwhile, NBC's Football Night in America will reunite Dan Patrick with Keith Olbermann on television for the first time since 1997 when they co-hosted SportsCenter. The in-house NFL Network saw Bryant Gumbel resign as their play-by-play announcer after two seasons on the network's Run to the Playoffs package that critics described as "lackluster." Taking his place will be New York Giants radio announcer Bob Papa.
Additionally, NFL Films-produced Inside the NFL has changed premium cable homes from Time Warner's HBO after three decades to CBS' Showtime. Also changed: James Brown (from the parent network's The NFL Today) as host and Phil Simms as one of the analysts. Cris Collinsworth is staying, but Dan Marino has been dropped as a studio analyst, and the aforementioned Cris Carter moved to ESPN. Taking their place is Warren Sapp.
On radio, Westwood One has separated from its longtime corporate sister, CBS Radio. This could possibly affect the network's NFL on Westwood One coverage, which it has carried since the two networks merged in the late 1990s. The Westwood One coverage currently uses the NFL on CBS branding on its broadcasts. Also, the Sports USA Radio Network, another syndicator, has been sold along with parent company Jones Radio Networks to the Triton Media Group.
The following teams will have new head coaches in 2008:
|Team||2008 Coach||Former Coach(es)||Reason for leaving||Story/Accomplishments|
|Atlanta Falcons||Mike Smith, Jacksonville Jaguars defensive coordinator||Bobby Petrino||Petrino resigned after 13 games to take the same job at the University of Arkansas.||In his first and only season, Petrino went 3-10 before resigning. Under interim head coach Thomas, the Falcons went 1–2 over the remainder of the season.|
|Baltimore Ravens||John Harbaugh, Philadelphia Eagles defensive backs coach ||Brian Billick||Fired||Coached Ravens to a victory in Super Bowl XXXV. Billick was 80-64 with the Ravens in the regular season and 5-3 in the postseason, but went 5-11 in 2007, the worst record the Ravens had in his nine-year tenure.|
|Miami Dolphins||Tony Sparano, Dallas Cowboys assistant head coach/offensive line coach||Cam Cameron||Fired||In his first and only season, the Cameron-led Dolphins finished with a league worst 1–15 record.|
|Washington Redskins||Jim Zorn, Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach||Joe Gibbs||Retired||Finished 16 overall seasons as Redskins head coach. During his first tenure, 1981–92, the club won three Super Bowls (XVII, XXII, and XXVI) and four NFC Championships (1982, 1983, 1987 and 1991). After being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996, he rejoined the team in 2004.|
This will be the first season that the league will use a new, updated logo. Unveiled on August 31 2007 in USA Today, the new design features eight white stars, representing each of the league's eight divisions, instead of 23 on the old logo. The football has been redesigned and rotated to the same angle as the one on the top of the Vince Lombardi Trophy given to the Super Bowl champion. Darker shades of red and blue, specifically navy blue, are also used, along with font lettering to that of the league's current typeface for other logos. The new logo officially made its debut during the 2008 NFL Draft on April 26.
In addition to the Bills playing one home game in Toronto's Rogers Centre, this will be the first season that the Indianapolis Colts will play their home games at Lucas Oil Stadium. Meanwhile, 2008 will be the final year that the Dallas Cowboys will play at Texas Stadium; they are scheduled to move into their new stadium in Arlington, Texas in 2009. This is also the next-to-last year both the New York Giants and New York Jets will be playing at Giants Stadium. Starting in 2010 both teams will be playing in "The Meadowlands Stadium."
St. Louis Rams and Georgia Frontiere
On January 18, 2008, Georgia Frontiere, owner of the St. Louis Rams died due to complications with breast cancer. The Rams announced that during the 2008 season they will wear a commemorative patch in her honor, with her signature on their left shoulder.
Kansas City Chiefs and Lamar Hunt
On January 31, 2008, Clark Hunt, chairman of the board for the Kansas City Chiefs announced that henceforth the team's Lamar Hunt/American Football League tribute patch that was introduced in the 2007 season will be a permanent part of the Chiefs' uniform. joining the Chicago Bears (with George Halas) and the Cleveland Browns (with Al Lerner) with such a patch.
"Retirement"/Unretirement of Brett Favre
The 2008 season will mark the first time since September 20, 1992 that someone other than Brett Favre will start at quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, as Aaron Rodgers will become the new offensive "Leader of The Pack." At first, this was given Favre's announcement on March 4 that he would retire from the league after seventeen seasons. He owns many NFL records, including most wins as a quarterback, most touchdown passes thrown, and most consecutive starts at quarterback. He started every Packers game, regular season and postseason, for nearly sixteen full seasons (September 27, 1992–January 20, 2008). The Packers were scheduled to retire Favre's #4 jersey in a ceremony during the first week of the season. However in July, he publicly indicated that he wanted to play again as the starting quarterback. The Packers did not give it to him, nor were they willing to release him, and was reinstated on August 3 by Commissioner Goodell. Three days later, Favre was traded to the New York Jets for a draft pick.
The stretch of highway outside Ralph Wilson Stadium along U.S. Route 20A in Orchard Park, New York has been named the Timothy J. Russert Highway. Russert, who was NBC News's chief Washington bureau correspondent and the host of Meet the Press, was a noted Buffalo Bills fan. He died of a heart attack in June 2008.
The 2008 season will mark just the third time in the salary cap era (and first since 2001) that no NFL team made major changes to their uniforms or logo. Since 1993, half of the league's teams (Arizona, Atlanta, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Denver, Minnesota, New England, New York Giants, New York Jets, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and Tennessee) have completely redesigned their uniforms (The Patriots doing it three times, though none since 2000.) while another five (Detroit, Green Bay, Miami, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh) making minor, though noticeable, changes. The Titans are swapping home and alternate designations on their light blue and navy blue jerseys though.
The Detroit Lions, in celebration of their 75th season in Motown as well as by popular demand by the fans, abandoned their black third jerseys in favor of their '50s style throwback uniforms. They will wear these uniforms against Jacksonville (November 9th) and Tennessee (Thanksgiving Day – November 27th). In addition, the Pittsburgh Steelers will make their throwbacks from the previous season their alternate uniform, wearing them against the Ravens on September 29th and the Giants on October 26th.
Gene Upshaw Tribute
The league also honored the memory of NFLPA leader Gene Upshaw, who died suddenly at age 63 on August 20th, just three days after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. For the entire season, all 32 teams wore a patch on the left chest of the jerseys with the initials "GU" and his number 63, his jersey number with the Oakland Raiders. All NFL teams also honored Upshaw with a video tribute and a replica of the uniform patch painted onto the field. Originally, the patch on the field and the video tribute were only going to be done in Oakland at the Raiders-Broncos game (Upshaw played his entire 15 year Hall of Fame career with the Silver and Black.) and at Giants Stadium, where the Giants and Redskins opened the NFL season on September 4th.
The following teams and players set all-time NFL records during the regular season:
|Record||Player/Team||Date/Opponent||Previous Record Holder|
|Most Consecutive Regular Season Games Won||New England Patriots, 2006-08 (20; current)||September 7, vs. Kansas City Chiefs||New England, 2003-04 (18)|
- NFL Considering Early Start for Opener. Associated Press. 26 March 2008.
- NFL.com: Future Super Bowl sites. Retrieved on 2007-12-25.
- 2006 NFL Record and Fact Book, pp. 16. ISBN .
- Colts vs. Redskins in '08 HOF Game. Pro Football Hall of Fame. 10 February 2008.
- [http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter?game_id=29848&displayPage=tab_gamecenter&season=2008&week=PRE0 NFL.com Gamecenter: Hall of Fame Week 2008 - Colts vs. Redskins
- Preseason national TV lineup to feature every '07 playoff team. NFL.com. 3 April 2008.
- Kickoff Weekend primetime schedule includes Monday doubleheader. NFL.com. 31 March 2008.
- "Chargers to play Saints in London", The San Diego Union-Tribune, 2008-01-27. Retrieved on 2008-01-27.
- "New Orleans Saints to host the San Diego Chargers as the NFL returns to Wembley", Daily Mail, 2008-01-27. Retrieved on 2008-01-27.
- "Bills have deal in place for Toronto games", The Buffalo News, 2008-01-30. Retrieved on 2008-02-02. Archived from the original on 2008-02-11.
- Chris, Mortensen. "Bills likely to get OK to play game in Toronto", ESPN.com, 2008-01-08. Retrieved on 2008-02-02.
- "Pro Bowl: More moving talk", StarBulletin.com, 2007-10-14. Retrieved on 2007-12-17.
- "NFL's Pro Bowl will stay in Honolulu", SI.com, 2007-12-28. Retrieved on 2007-12-29.
- "Proposal to reseed playoff teams withdrawn by owners", 2008-04-02. Retrieved on 2008-04-02.
- Boers and Bernstein 3:00 PM 7/24/08. WSCR (2008-07-24). Retrieved on 2008-07-25.
- Pergament, Alan. Sports on the Air. The Buffalo News. 28 June 2008.
- Hiestand, Michael. "MNF' reduces roles for field reporters Kolber, Tafoya", USA Today, 2008-02-10. Retrieved on 2008-02-14.
- Gumbel decides to leave NFL Network. NFL.com. 13 April 2008.
- Falcons hire Jaguars' Smith as head coach
- "Petrino leaves Falcons", SI.com, 2007-12-11. Retrieved on 2008-01-07.
- "Thomas named Falcons interim coach", Atlanta Journal Constitution, 2007-12-12. Retrieved on 2008-01-07. Archived from the original on 2012-07-24.
- "Ravens Hire Haubaugh As New Head Coach", NFL.com, 2008-01-18. Retrieved on 2008-01-18.
- "Billick fired", Baltimore Sun, 2008-01-01. Retrieved on 2008-01-07.
- "Dolphins hire Sparano away from Cowboys", Foxsports.com, 2008-01-16. Retrieved on 2008-01-16.
- "Dolphins Fire Cameron After 1-15 Season", Washington Post, 2008-01-04. Retrieved on 2008-01-07.
- "Redskins hire Jim Zorn as head coach", SI.com, 2008-02-09. Retrieved on 2008-02-09.
- "Joe Gibbs Resigns as Redskins Head Coach", Washington Post, 2008-01-08. Retrieved on 2008-01-08.
- McCarthy, Michael. "NFL to revamp shield with redesigned logo", USA Today. Retrieved on 2007-12-24.
- Lucas Oil: Lucas Oil Stadium. LucasOil.com. Retrieved on 2008-01-07.
- Cowboys Build For The Future By Honoring The Past. DallasCowboys.com (2006-12-12). Retrieved on 2008-01-07.
- Former Rams owner Frontiere dies.. MSNBC. Retrieved on 2008-01-20.
- Lamar Hunt patch becomes a permanent part of the Chiefs' uniform KCChiefs.com, 28 January 2008,
- NFL players to wear uniform patch this season in honor of Upshaw - ESPN.com
- NFL honors Upshaw at all 16 games - Yahoo! Sports
- 2007 NFL Record and Fact Book,. NFL (2007). ISBN .
Early Era (1920-1969)
|1920 • 1921 • 1922 • 1923 • 1924 • 1925 • 1926 • 1927 • 1928 • 1929|
1930 • 1931 • 1932 • 1933 • 1934 • 1935 • 1936 • 1937 • 1938 • 1939
|Modern Era (1970-present)|
|1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979|
1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989