Relive and recapture iconic moments. Recall an anniversary of an event that forever changed the landscape of the NFL. It’s all here in This Week in NFL History. This Week in NFL History will look back at some of the most memorable events that have occurred during this week historically in professional football.
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This Week in NFL History
1906-Halfback/placekicker Elmer Kenneth (Ken) Strong (NYU: 1926-28; signed with Staten Island Stapletons in 1929; Stapletons: 1929-32, Giants: 1933-35, AFL New York Yankees: 1936-37, Giants: 1939, 1944-47) born in West Haven, Connecticut (d. 1979)
Career Highlights: An All-American at NYU, Strong was one of the NFL’s early stars, exceling in every phase of the game. He scored 17 points (two touchdowns, two extra points, and a field goal) to lead the Giants to victory in the 1934 NFL Championship Game, known in NFL lore as the Sneaker Game because the Giants wore sneakers to get better footing on the ice-covered field at the Polo Grounds. Strong was a five-time First-team All-Pro (1929-31, 1933, 1934) and a member of the NFL 1930s All-Decade Team. He is the second player in NFL history to devote an entire season to placekicking. Strong’s No. 50 was retired by the Giants in 1947. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967 and into the Giants Ring of Honor in 2010.
1960–The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts 43-16 in the third interleague game between the National Football League and Canadian Football League
1978-Offensive tackle Marvel Smith (Arizona State: 1996-99, selected 38th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2000 NFL Draft: Steelers: 2000-08) born in Oakland, California
Career Stats: Smith started in 108 of his 111 career NFL games
Smith was a Pro Bowl selection in 2004. He won two Super Bowls (XL, XLIII) with Steelers.
1983–The Minnesota Vikings defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 28-10 in an exhibition game plated at London’s Wembley Stadium, the first NFL game played in the United Kingdom
1989–The Los Angeles Rams defeated the San Francisco 49ers 16-13 in an exhibition game played at the Tokyo Dome, the second NFL game played in Japan.
1945-Defensive tackle Alan Page (Notre Dame: 1964-66, selected 15th overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1967 NFL Draft; Vikings: 1967-78, Bears: 1978-81) born in Canton, Ohio
Career Highlights: Page was best known as the anchor of the Vikings’ Purple People Eaters defensive line of the mid-1970s. He was the 1971 NFL Most Valuable Player (one of only two defensive players to win the award) and a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1971, 1973). Page played in 218 consecutive games (215 as a starter). He was a nine-time Pro Bowler (1969-77), a six-time First-team All-Pro (1969-71, 1973-75), and a three-time Second-team All-Pro (1968, 1972, 1976). The Vikings played in four Super Bowls (IV, VIII, IX, XI) during Page’s tenure, losing all four. Page was named to the 1970s NFL All-Decade Team, inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988. His No. 88 was retired by the Vikings. Page attended the University of Minnesota Law School while still playing for the Vikings and earned his law degree in 1978. Page served as an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court from 1992-2015.
1964–The NFL champion Chicago Bears defeated the College All-Stars 24-16 in front of a crowd of 65,000 at Soldier Field. The MVP of the College All-Star was Arizona State wide receiver (and future Hall of Famer) Charley Taylor.
1976-Punter Edward (Shane) Lechler (Texas A&M: 1996-99, selected 142nd overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 2000 NFL Draft; Raiders: 2000-12, Texans: 2013-present) born in East Bernard, Texas
Career Stats: 1,352 punts for 64,169 yards, career average punt 47.5, five punts blocked
Lechler is a seven-time Pro Bowl selection (2001, 2004, 2007-11), a six-time First-team All-Pro (2000, 2003, 2004, 2008-10), and a three-time Second-team All-Pro (2001, 2007, 2011). He holds the record for highest average yards per punt in NFL history. Lechler won the Golden Toe Award in 2009 and was a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team.
2010–Guard Russ Grimm, linebacker/defensive end Rickey Jackson, cornerback Dick LeBeau, running back Floyd Little, defensive tackle John Randle, wide receiver Jerry Rice, and running back Emmitt Smith inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
1961-Offensive tackle Bruce Matthews (USC: 1979-82, selected ninth overall by the Houston Oilers in the 1983 NFL Draft; Oilers/Titans: 1983-2001) born in Raleigh, North Carolina
Career Stats: Matthews started in 293 of his career 296 NFL games.
Matthews was a 14-time Pro Bowl selection (1988-2001) and a 10-time First-team All-Pro (1988-93, 1996, 1998-2000). He was named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007. Matthew is the brother of linebacker Clay Matthews and uncle of linebacker Clay Matthews III.
1967-Tight end Howard Cross (Alabama: 1985-88, selected 158th overall by the New York Giants in the 1989 NFL Draft; Giants: 1989-2001) born in Huntsville, Alabama
Career Stats: 201 receptions for 2,194 yards and 17 touchdowns
Known more for his blocking expertise than his receiving, Cross is the only player to play in both Super Bowl XXV (a win against the Buffalo Bills) and Super Bowl XXXV (a loss to the Baltimore Ravens) for the Giants.
1986-Wide receiver Pierre Garcon (Mount Union: 2005-07, selected 205th overall by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2008 NFL Draft; Colts: 2008-11, Redskins: 2012-16, 49ers: 2017-present) born in Carmel, New York
Career Stats: 564 receptions for 7,068 yards and 37 touchdowns
Garcon led the NFL in receptions in 2013 (113)
1988-Fullback Lino (Alan, also known as the Iron Horse) Ameche (Wisconsin: 1951-54, selected third overall by the Baltimore Colts in the 1955 NFL Draft; Colts: 1955-60) died at age 55 in Houston, Texas (b. 1933)
Career Stats: 964 carries for 4,045 yards and 40 touchdowns; 101 receptions for 733 yards and four touchdowns
Ameche was best known for scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the 1958 NFL Championship Game (also known as The Greatest Game Ever Played). He was the NFL Rookie of the Year in 1955 when he led the league rushing attempts (213), rushing yards (961), and rushing touchdowns (nine). Ameche was a four-time Pro Bowl selection (1955-58), a two-time First-team All-Pro (1955, 1956), and a two-time Second-team All-Pro (1958, 1959). He won two NFL Championships with the Colts (1958, 1959). Ameche is one of five players named to the NFL 1950s All-Decade Team who hasn’t been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
2004–Offensive tackle Bob Brown, defensive end Carl Eller, quarterback John Elway, and running back Barry Sanders inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
1946-Running back James (Jim) Kiick (Wyoming: 1965-67, selected 118th overall by the Miami Dolphins in the 1968 AFL Draft; Dolphins: 1968-74, World Football League Memphis Southmen: 1975, Broncos: 1976-77, Redskins: 1978) born in Lincoln Park, New Jersey
Career Stats: 1,029 carries for 3,759 yards and 29 touchdowns; 233 receptions for 2,302 yards and four touchdowns
Kiick was a two-time AFL All-Star (1968, 1969) and won two Super Bowls (VII, VIII) with Dolphins. He was an integral part of Don Shula’s ball-control offense in the early 1970s. Kiick and Hall of Fame running back Larry Csonka were known as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
1955-Quarterback Douglas Lee (Doug) Williams (Grambling State: 1974-77, selected 17th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1978 NFL Draft; Buccaneers: 1978-82, USFL Oklahoma/Arizona Outlaws 1984-85, Redskins: 1986-89) born in Zachary, Louisiana
Career Stats: 1,240 completions for 2,507 yards for 16,998 yards, 100 touchdowns, and 93 interceptions. Quarterback rating: 69.4. Career record: 42-45-1 (Buccaneers regular season: 33-33-1, Buccaneers postseason: 1-3, Redskins regular season: 5-9, Redskins postseason: 3-0)
Williams played for legendary coach Eddie Robinson at Grambling State. Despite finishing fourth in the Heisman voting during his senior year, the only NFL coach to scout was Buccaneers offensive coordinator Joe Gibbs. Williams led the Buccaneers to the NFC Championship Game in his second season but bolted to the USFL after Buccaneers owner Hugh Culverhouse refused to pay him accordingly (The Buccaneers had only won two games during their first two years in franchise history while Williams had them in the playoffs in three of his four seasons). After the USFL folded, Williams signed with the Redskins, whose head coach was Gibbs. Williams led the Redskins to victory in Super Bowl XXII and was named Super Bowl MVP. He was named one of the 80 Greatest Redskins and inducted into the Redskins Ring of Fame. Williams also named to the Buccaneers Hall of Fame. He had two tenures as head coach at his alma mater (1998-2003, 2011-13 Record 61-34, conference record 36-23). Williams is currently Redskins senior vice president of player personnel.
1957–The NFL Champion New York Giants defeated the College All-Star Team 22-12 in the College All-Star Football Classic before a crowd of 75,000 at Soldier Field. The MVP of the College All-Star Team was Stanford quarterback John Brodie. Brodie was quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers from 1957-73. A member of the Stanford golf team, Brodie also played on the PGA Tour.
1967-Cornerback/return specialist Deion (also known as Prime Time or Neon Deion) Sanders (Florida State: 1985-88, selected fifth overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 1989 NFL Draft; Falcons: 1989-93, 49ers: 1994, Cowboys: 1995-99, Redskins: 2000, Ravens: 2004-05) born in Fort Myers, Florida
Career Stats: 513 combined tackles (493 solo), one sack, 53 interceptions, 10 passes defended, 10 forced fumbles, 13 fumbles recovered, nine defensive touchdowns; 60 receptions for 784 yards and three touchdowns; 212 punt returns for 2,199 yards and six touchdowns, 155 kick returns for 3,523 yards and three touchdowns
Sanders was one of the greatest overall athletes the NFL has ever seen, playing football, baseball (he was drafted by Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals out of high school), and track at Florida State. He was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection (1991-94, 1996-99) and an eight-time First-team All-Pro (1991-94, 1996-99). Sanders was the 1994 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and won two Super Bowls (XXIX, XXX) with the 49ers and Cowboys respectively. He was inducted into the Falcons Ring of Honor and named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team. Sanders was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011. He also was a part-time MLB outfielder from 1989-2001. Sanders is currently an analyst with the NFL Network.
1969-Owner George Preston Marshall (Redskins: 1932-69) died at age 72 in Washington, D.C. (b. 1896)
Career Highlights: Marshall was the founder, owner, and president of the Redskins. The team was founded in Boston but relocated to Washington in 1937. He was responsible for incorporating college football elements in the professional game (because college football was more popular than the NFL at the time of the league’s inception) including the introduction of halftime shows, a marching band, and a fight song. Marshall, along with Chicago Bears founder/owner George Halas, championed three innovations: allowing a forward pass to be thrown from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage, moving the goal posts from the end line to the goal line (the goal lines posted would be moved back to the end lines in the 1970s). He also was in favor of standardizing the schedule so each team would play the same number of games, separating the teams into divisions with the winners meeting in a championship game, and splitting game gate receipts between the home and away teams. The Redskins won NFL Championships in 1937 and 1942 under Marshall’s ownership. He was one of 17 inaugural inductees (1963) into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
1975–The Houston Oilers defeated the New Orleans Saints 13-7 in an exhibition game, the first played at the Louisiana Superdome
1977-Defensive end Adewale Ogunleye (Indiana: 1996-99, signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2000; Dolphins: 2000-03, Bears: 2004-09, Texans: 2010) born in Brooklyn, New York
Career Stats: 389 combined tackles (295 solo), 67 sacks, one interception, 24 passes defended, 14 forced fumbles, 14 fumbles recovered
Ogunleye was an All-Pro and a Pro Bowl selection in 2003
1985-Quarterback JaMarcus Russell (LSU: 2004-06, selected first overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 2007 NFL Draft; Raiders: 2007-09) born in Mobile, Alabama
Career Stats: 354 completions for 680 yards for 4,083 yards, 18 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions. Quarterback rating: 65.2. Career record as starter: 7-18; 40 carries for 175 yards and one touchdown
Russell is considered one of the biggest busts in NFL history. He held out until the Raiders gave him a six-year, $68 million contract with $31 million guaranteed. Russell was intercepted twice and lost a fumble in his first career start against the San Diego Chargers, leading to 17 points off turnovers. His 2009 passer rating of 50.0 was the lowest by an NFL starting quarterback in the two previous decades. Russell attempted to make a comeback in both 2013 and 2016. Last season, he wrote letters to all 32 NFL teams asking for a tryout and pledging to play one year for free but no team responded. The Raiders wouldn’t allow a player to wear No. 2 for several seasons after Russell’s release.
1987–The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Dallas Cowboys 28-27 in an exhibition game at London’s Wembley Stadium, the third game played in the United Kingdom
2015-Halfback/wide receiver Francis (Frank) Gifford (USC: 1949-51, selected 11th overall by the New York Giants in the 1952 NFL Draft; Giants: 1952-60, 1962-64) died at age 84 in Greenwich, Connecticut (b. 1930)
Career Stats: 840 carries for 3,609 yards and 34 touchdowns, 367 receptions for 5,434 yards and 43 touchdowns
Gifford was the 1956 NFL Most Valuable Player. He was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection (1953-59, 1963) and a six-time First-team All-Pro (1953, 1955-59). Gifford played in five NFL Championship Games, winning only one (1956). He retired from football in 1960 after suffering a severe head injury sustained from being hit by Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Chuck Bednarik. During this retirement, Gifford began his career in broadcasting, He returned to football in 1962, earning NFL Comeback Player of the Year honors before retiring for good after the 1964 season. Gifford was named to the NFL 1950s All-Decade Team, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977, and his No. 16 retired by the Giants. His most famous broadcasting assignment was ABC’s Monday Night Football from 1971-97.
1942-Cornerback/return specialist Leslie (Speedy) Duncan (Jackson State: 1960-62; signed with the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent in 1963; Chargers: 1963-70, Redskins: 1971-74) born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Career Stats: 24 interceptions, four fumbles recovered, four defensive touchdowns; 202 punt returns for 2,201 yards and four touchdowns, 180 kick returns for 4,539 yards
Duncan was a three-time AFL Star (1965, 1966, 1967) and a Pro Bowl selection in 1971. He played in Super Bowl VII against the 17-0 Miami Dolphins as a member of the Redskins. Duncan is a member of the Chargers 40th Anniversary and Chargers 50th Anniversary Teams and the Chargers Hall of Fame.
1961-Linebacker Billy Ray Smith Jr. (Arkansas: 1980-82, selected fifth overall by the San Diego Chargers in the 1983 NFL Draft: Chargers: 1983-92) born in Fayetteville, Arkansas
Career Stats: 26.5 sacks, 15 interceptions, 14 fumbles recovered, one defensive touchdown
Smith was a second-team All-Pro in 1989 and a member of the Chargers 50th Anniversary Team. His father, Billy Ray Smith Sr., played 13 seasons in the NFL.
1976-Cornerback Samari Rolle (Florida State: 1994-97, selected 46th overall by the Tennessee Oilers in the 1998 NFL Draft; Oilers/Titans: 1998-2004, Ravens: 2005-09) born in Miami, Florida
Career Stats: 430 combined tackles (383 solo), 9.5 sacks, 31 interceptions, 81 passes defended, eight fumbles recovered, two defensive touchdowns
Rolle was a Pro Bowl selection and an All-Pro in 2000. He played in Super Bowl XXXIV, a Titans loss to the St. Louis Rams.
1984-Placekicker Matthew (Matt) Prater (Central Florida: 2002-05, signed with the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent in 2006; Falcons: 2007, Broncos: 2007-14, Lions: 2014-present) born in Mayfield Heights, Ohio
Career Stats: 216 of 260 field goal attempts (83.1 percent), 348 of 355 extra point attempts (98 percent)
Prater was a two-time Pro Bowl selection (2013, 2016) and a Second-team All-Pro in 2013. As a member of the Broncos, he set an NFL record when he kicked a 64-yard field goal against the Tennessee Titans on Dec. 8, 2013. Prater also holds the Lions franchise record for longest field goal (59 yards, against the Chicago Bears on Jan. 3, 2016).
1919–The Green Bay Packers were founded by Earl “Curly” Lambeau and George Whitney Calhoun. Lambeau received $500 from his employer, the Indian Packing Company, on the condition that the team be named after their sponsor. The Packers are the last of the small market teams popular in the NFL at the time of their founding and have played in their original city longer than any other NFL team. They are the only non-profit, community owned major league professional team in the United States. The Packers have won 13 league championships, (NFL Championships in 1929, 1930, 1931, 1936, 1939, 1944, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, and 1967 and Super Bowls I, II, XXXI, and XLV), the most in NFL history.
1967-Defensive tackle Michael (Mike) Lodish (UCLA: 1986-89, selected 265th overall by the Buffalo Bills in the 1990 NFL Draft: Bills: 1990-94, Broncos: 1995-2000) born in Detroit, Michigan
Career Stats: 150 combined tackles (123 solo), 8.5 sacks, four fumble recoveries, two defensive touchdowns
Lodish played in six Super Bowls: losing Super Bowls XXV, XXVI, XXVII, and XXVIII with the Bills and winning Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII with the Broncos.
1983-Defensive end Robert Geathers Jr. (Georgia: 2001-03, selected 117th overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2004 NFL Draft; Bengals: 2004-14) born in Georgetown, South Carolina
Career Stats: 325 combined tackles (183 solo), 34 sacks, three interceptions, 20 passes defended, seven forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries, two defensive touchdowns
Geathers comes from a football family. His father, Robert Sr., was a third-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in 1981 but an injury ended his career prematurely. His uncle, James (also known as Jumpy), played 13 years in the NFL and won two Super Bowls with the Washington Redskins (Super Bowl XXVI) and Denver Broncos (Super Bowl XXXIII). His brother, Clifton, played for seven teams in his NFL career and is currently a free agent. His other brother, Kwame, also played in the NFL.
1915-Center/linebacker Alexander (Alex) Wojciechowicz (Fordham: 1935-37, selected sixth overall by the Detroit Lions in the 1938 NFL Draft; Lions: 1938-1946, Eagles: 1946-50) born in South River, New Jersey (d. 1992)
Career Highlights: Wojciechowicz was one of the last “iron men” in the NFL, playing on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. He helped turn the perennial losing Lions into contenders before he was traded to the Eagles. As a purely defensive player in Philadelphia, Wojciechowicz helped the Eagles win NFL Championships in 1948 and 1949. He was also a two-time First-team All-Pro (1939, 1944). Wojciechowicz was inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968.
1950–The New York Giants defeated the Ottawa Rough Riders 20-6 at Ottawa’s Lansdowne Park, the first interleague game between the NFL and CFL
1967–The New Orleans Saints defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 23-14 in the first preseason win in franchise history
1977-Wide receiver Plaxico Burress (Michigan State: 1996-99, selected eighth overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2000 NFL Draft; Steelers: 2000-04, Giants: 2005-08, Jets: 2011, Steelers: 2012-13) born in Norfolk, Virginia
Career Stats: 553 receptions for 8,499 yards and 64 touchdowns
Burress is best known for catching the go-ahead touchdown for the Giants when they beat the 18-0 Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. On Nov. 28, 2008, he suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his right thigh in a New York City nightclub. Burress was eventually released by the Giants and sentenced to two years in prison and two years of supervised released. He returned to the NFL in 2011, earning Comeback Player of the Year honors. He is currently a coaching intern with the Arizona Cardinals.
1978-Defensive end Derrick Burgess (Mississippi: 1997-2000, selected 63rd overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2001 NFL Draft; Eagles: 2001-04, Raiders: 2005-08, Patriots: 2009, Eagles: 2010) born in Lake City, South Carolina
Career Stats: 262 combined tackles (215 solo), 52 sacks, eight passes defended, five fumbles recovered
Burgess led the NFL in sacks in 2005 (16). He was a two-time Pro Bowl selection (2005, 2006) and a Second-team All-Pro in 2005.
1978–New England Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley collided with Oakland Raiders defensive back Jack Tatum during a preseason game at Oakland Coliseum. Stingley’s helmet collided with Tatum’s shoulder pad, compressing his spinal cord and breaking his fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae. Although Stingley regained some movement in his right arm, he spent the rest of his life as a quadriplegic. Tatum, known as The Assassin for his hard hits, was not disciplined by the NFL because such hits were legal at the time. The incident drew national attention because Stingley was a young player at the height of his NFL career who had just renegotiated his contract with the Patriots which would have made him one of the highest paid receivers in the league. Since then, the NFL banned all blows to the head or neck of a defenseless player and players launching themselves at players to make a tackle. Stingley died in 2007 at age 55 of pneumonia and heart disease brought on by his quadriplegia. Tatum, who died in 2010, never apologized for the hit or the style he played. John Madden, Raiders head coach at the time of the incident, said the hit “was something that ate on him (Tatum) his whole life.”
1984-Tight end Delanie Walker (Central Missouri State: 2004-05, selected 175th overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2006 NFL Draft; 49ers: 2006-12, Titans: 2013-present) born in Pomona, California
Career Stats: 405 receptions for 4,814 yards and 31 touchdowns
Walker was a Pro Bowl selection in 2015 and 2016