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
1934-Attorney and businessman Gary Davidson born in Orange County, California
Career Highlights: Davidson was the founder of the 1970s incarnation of the World Football League (WFL). The WFL may have been formed with the intention of competing with the NFL but it turned out to be more of a development league. Although the league only lasted for a little more than a year (1974-75), they succeeded in raising the then-stagnant salaries of the NFL. The WFL also succeeded in luring players from the NFL including Hall of Famers Larry Csonka, Ken Stabler, and Paul Warfield. The WFL effectively ended the Miami Dolphins’ dominance of the AFC (by signing Csonka, Warfield, and Jim Kiick) in the early 1970s, opening the door for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders to win four Super Bowls in the second half of the decade. Davidson was also the founder of the 1960s incarnation of the American Basketball Association (ABA) and the World Hockey League (WHL).
1965-Cornerback Cris Dishman (Purdue: 1984-87, selected 125th overall by the Houston Oilers in the 1988 NFL Draft; Oilers: 1988-96, Redskins: 1997-98, Chiefs: 1999, Vikings: 2000) born in Louisville, Kentucky
Career Stats: 739 combined tackles (668 solo), 1.5 sacks, 43 interceptions, 15 forced fumbles, 16 fumbles recovered, six defensive touchdowns
Dishman was a two-time Pro Bowl selection (1991, 1997) and an All-Pro in 1991.
1968-Linebacker William Thomas (Texas A&M: 1987-90, selected 104th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1991 NFL Draft; Eagles: 1991-99, Raiders: 2000-01) born in Amarillo, Texas
Career Stats: 886 combined tackles (728 solo), 37 sacks, 27 interceptions, six passes defended, 10 forced fumbles, 12 fumbles recovered, two defensive touchdowns
Thomas was a two-time Pro Bowl selection (1995, 1996) and retired as a member of the 20/20 Club (at least 20 sacks and 20 interceptions over the course of a career).
1970-Quarterback Elvis Grbac (Michigan: 1989-92, selected 219th overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1993 NFL Draft; 49ers: 1993-96, Chiefs: 1997-2000, Ravens: 2001) born in Cleveland, Ohio
Career Stats: 1,446 completions in 2,445 attempts for 16,774 yards, 99 touchdowns, and 81 interceptions. Career QB rating: 79.6. Career record as starter: 44-34 (49ers regular season: 6-3, 49ers postseason: 3-2, Chiefs regular season: 26-21, Chiefs postseason: 0-1, Ravens regular season: 8-6, Ravens postseason: 1-1); 163 carries for 388 yards and seven touchdowns
Grbac was a Pro Bowl selection in 2000. He won Super Bowl XXIX as a member of the 49ers.
1978-Running back Michael Bennett (Wisconsin: 1998-2001, selected 27th overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2002 NFL Draft; Vikings: 2001-05, Chiefs: 2006-07, Buccaneers: 2007-08, Chargers: 2008-09, Raiders: 2010) born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Career Stats: 842 carries for 3,703 carries and 13 touchdowns; 159 receptions for 1,294 yards and six touchdowns
Bennett had a 40-yard dash time of 4.13, the second fastest in history behind Bo Jackson’s 4.12. He was a Pro Bowl selection in 2002 when he had an 85-yard touchdown run. Bennett was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison in 2012 after pleading guilty to wire fraud. He plead guilty in March 2017 to felonies that included burglary, identity theft, and attempted theft after taking out a $225,000 loan against the home of the parents of his then-girlfriend. Bennett was sentenced to five years in state prison.
1914-Owner Wellington Mara (Giants: 1959-2005) born in Rochester, New York (d. 2005)
Career Highlights: Mara’s father, Timothy, was the founder of the New York Giants. Wellington was a Giants ball boy when the team was founded in 1925. Wellington’s career in the Giants front office began as team treasurer, secretary, and assistant to his father soon after his graduation from Fordham University. After fighting in World War II, Wellington returned as team vice president with his older brother Jack serving as team president. Wellington and Jack became co-owners when their father died in 1959. Wellington later became team president when Jack died in 1965. After Jack Mara’s death, his share of the team was passed to Wellington’s nephew, Tim J. Mara. The Giants were handicapped by a strained relationship between Wellington and Tim J. Mara for years, to the point where a partition had to be built in the owners’ box to separate them. The Maras handled most of the day-to-day operations of the team until the public outcry over The Miracle at the Meadowlands forced them to hire general manager George Young in 1979. The Giants won six NFL titles, including Super Bowls XXI and XXV, under his direction. Wellington Mara was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997. Wellington’s son, John, is the current co-owner, team president, and CEO.
1959–Dallas businessman Lamar Hunt announced his intention to form a second professional football league at a meeting held in Chicago. Besides Hunt, the meeting was attended by Kenneth “Bud” Adams (representing Houston), Bill Boyer and Max Winter (representing Minneapolis), Barron Hilton (representing Los Angeles), Bob Howsam (representing Denver), Ralph Wilson (representing Buffalo), and Harry Wismer (representing New York City).
1960-Offensive lineman Broderick Thompson (Kansas: 1981-82, signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 1983; USFL Portland Breakers: 1984-85, Cowboys: 1985, Chargers: 1987-92, Eagles: 1993-94, Broncos: 1995-96) born in Birmingham, Alabama (d. 2002)
Career Stats: Thompson started 135 of his 152 career NFL games.
He died Feb. 4, 2002 at age 41 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident.
1966-Offensive lineman Frederick (Duke) Slater (Iowa: 1918-21; Milwaukee Badgers: 1922, Rock Island Independents: 1922-26, Cardinals: 1926-31) died at age 67 in Chicago, Illinois (b. 1898)
Career Highlights: Slater was one of the NFL’s first African American linemen and one of the best of his era. When African American players were forced out of the NFL in 1927, the lone player who wasn’t subject to the ban was Slater. He was the lineman who paved the way for Ernie Nevers to score six rushing touchdowns in a game against the Chicago Bears in 1929. Like many players of his era, Slater also played on defense and special teams. A two-time All-American at Iowa, Slater was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1951. Slater’s name is under consideration for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, the generation who saw him play are mostly dead and getting him inducted has been difficult for that reason.
1973-Wide receiver Wayne Chrebet (Hofstra: 1991-94, signed with the New York Jets as an undrafted free agent in 1995; Jets: 1995-2005) born in Garfield, New Jersey
Career Stats: 580 receptions for 7,365 yards and 41 touchdowns
Chrebet’s 580 receptions are ranked second in Jets history and his 7,365 yards are fifth in franchise history.
1975-Defensive end Gregory (Greg) Ellis (North Carolina: 1994-97, selected eighth overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1998 NFL Draft; Cowboys: 1998-2008, Raiders: 2009) born in Wendell, North Carolina
Career Stats: 529 combined tackles (397 solo), 84 sacks, four interceptions, 38 passes defended, 22 forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries, two defensive touchdowns
Ellis was a Pro Bowler and the Comeback Player of the Year in 2007.
1975-Linebacker Michael (Mike) Vrabel (Ohio State: 1993-96, selected 91st overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1997 NFL Draft; Steelers: 1997-2000, Patriots: 2001-08, Chiefs: 2009-10) born in Akron, Ohio
Career Stats: 740 combined tackles (511 solo), 57 sacks, 11 interceptions, 40 passes defended, 19 forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries, one defensive touchdown
Vrabel was a Pro Bowl selection and a First-team All-Pro in 2007. He won three Super Bowls (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX) with Patriots. After he retired, Vrabel returned to Ohio State to begin his coaching career as a linebackers coach (2011) and a defensive line coach (2012-13). He returned to the NFL as a linebackers coach with the Houston Texans (2014-16). Vrabel is currently the Texans’ defensive coordinator.
1980-Safety Roy Williams (Oklahoma: 1999-2001, selected eighth overall by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2002 NFL Draft; Cowboys: 2002-08, Bengals: 2009-10) born in Redwood City, California
Career Stats: 593 combined tackles (471 solo), 7.5 sacks, 20 interceptions, 59 passes defended, 10 forced fumbles, 11 fumbles recovered, three defensive touchdowns
Williams was a five-time Pro Bowler (2003-07) and a First-team All-Pro in 2003.
1990-Linebacker Kristian (Kiko) Alonso (Oregon: 2008-12, selected 46th overall by the Buffalo Bills in the 2013 NFL Draft; Bills: 2013-14, Eagles: 2015, Dolphins: 2016-present) born in Newton, Massachusetts
Career Stats: 316 combined tackles (186 solo), two sacks, seven interceptions, 10 passes defended, two forced fumbles, six fumbles recovered, one defensive touchdown
1945-Offensive lineman Eugene (Gene, also known as Uptown Gene) Upshaw (Texas A&M-Kingsville: 1964-66, selected 17th overall by the Oakland Raiders in the 1967 AFL Draft; Raiders: 1967-81) born in Truckee, California (d. 2008)
Career Stats: Upshaw started 207 of his 217 career AFL/NFL games.
Upshaw was the anchor of the Raiders’ offensive line of the late 1960s and 1970s. He was a six-time Pro Bowler (1972-77), a 1968 AFL All-Star, a three-time First-team All-Pro (1970, 1974, 1977), a four-time Second-team All-Pro (1972, 1973, 1975, 1976), and a three-time First-team AFL All-Pro (1967-69), Upshaw won three league championships in his career: the 1967 AFL Championship and Super Bowls XI and XV. He is the only player in NFL history to play in three Super Bowls in three different decades with the same team (Super Bowl II-1967, Super Bowl XI-1977, and Super Bowl XV-1981). Upshaw was named to the NFL 1970s All-Decade and the NFL 75th Anniversary Teams. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987. Upshaw served as executive director as the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) from 1983 until his death in 2008. He oversaw the 1987 strike, several antitrust lawsuits, and the 1993 adoption of the collective bargaining agreement.
1960–The Chicago Bears beat the New York Giants 16-7 in an exhibition game played at Toronto’s Varsity Stadium, the first NFL exhibition game played in Canada
1960-Linebacker Riki Ellison (USC: 1978-81, selected 117th overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1983 NFL Draft; 49ers: 1983-89, Raiders: 1990-92) born in Christchurch, New Zealand
Career Highlights: Ellison won three Super Bowls (XIX, XXIII, XXIV) with the 49ers. He is the father of NFL tight end Rhett Ellison.
1961-Head coach Gary Kubiak (Texans: 2006-13, Broncos: 2015-16) born in Houston, Texas
Career Record: 87-77 (Texans regular season: 61-64, Texans postseason: 2-2, Broncos regular season: 21-11, Broncos postseason: 3-0)
Kubiak was the second head coach of the Texans, guiding them to their first winning record in franchise history. He led the Broncos to victory in Super Bowl 50. Before his coaching career, Kubiak was a Broncos quarterback where he was a backup for John Elway (who would hire him to coach the Broncos). He lost three Super Bowls (XXI, XXII, XXIV) and won two (XXXII, XXXIII) as a player. Kubiak is currently a senior personnel advisor with the Broncos.
1962-Quarterback Walter (Bubby) Brister (Northeast Louisiana: 1982-85, selected 67th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1986 NFL Draft; Steelers: 1986-92, Eagles: 1993-94, Jets: 1995, Broncos: 1997-99, Vikings: 2000) born in Alexandria, Louisiana
Career Stats: 1,207 completions in 2,212 attempts for 14,445 yards, 81 touchdowns, and 78 interceptions. QB Rating: 72.3. Record as starter: 42-39 (Steelers regular season: 28-29, Steelers postseason: 1-1, Jets regular season: 1-3, Broncos regular season: 4-0, Broncos postseason: 3-0, Vikings postseason: 1-0); 191 carries for 546 yards and eight touchdowns
Brister won two Super Bowls (XXXII, XXXIII) with the Broncos. In 1989, he set a Steelers record for most pass completions without an interception (178). Brister also threw an 89-yard touchdown pass that was the longest by a Steelers in the history of Three Rivers Stadium. With the Broncos, he had a 38-yard touchdown run that was the longest by a quarterback in Broncos history at that time.
1969-Wide receiver Yancey Thigpen (Winston-Salem State: 1987-90, selected 90th overall by the San Diego Chargers in the 1991 NFL Draft; Chargers: 1991, Steelers: 1992-97, Oilers/Titans: 1998-2000) born in Tarboro, North Carolina
Career Stats: 313 receptions for 5,081 yards and 30 touchdowns
Thigpen was a two-time Pro Bowler (1995, 1997) and a two-time All-Pro (1995, 1997). He played in two Super Bowls (Super Bowl XXX with Steelers, Super Bowl XXIV with Titans), both losses.
1975-Defensive end Bertrand Berry (Notre Dame: 1993-96, selected 86th overall by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1997 NFL Draft; Colts: 1997-99, CFL Edmonton Eskimos: 2000, Broncos: 2001-03, Cardinals: 2004-09) born in Humble, Texas
Career Stats: 232 combined tackles (181 solo), 65 sacks, 17 passes defended, 14 fumbles recovered
Berry was a Pro Bowl selection and an All-Pro in 2004. He helped the Cardinals reach Super Bowl XLIII.
1961-Running back Christian (also known as The Nigerian Nightmare) Okoye (Azusa Pacific: 1984-86, selected 35th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 1987 NFL Draft; Chiefs: 1987-92) born in Enugu, Nigeria
Career Stats: 1,246 carries for 4,897 yards and 40 touchdowns
Okoye led the NFL in rushing attempts (370) and rushing yards (1,480) in 1989. He was a two-time Pro Bowler (1989, 1991), a First-team All-Pro in 1989, and a Second-team All-Pro in 1991. Okoye retired from the NFL in the prime of his career as a result of multiple injuries.
1965–American Football League awards franchise to Miami with Joe Robbie and actor Danny Thomas as owners
1969-Tight end Ben Coates (Livingstone: 1987-90, selected 124th overall by the New England Patriots in the 1991 NFL Draft; Patriots: 1991-99, Ravens: 2000) born in Greenwood, South Carolina
Career Stats: 499 receptions for 5,555 yards and 50 touchdowns
Coates was a five-time Pro Bowl selection (1994-98), a two-time First-team All-Pro (1994, 1995), and a Second-team All-Pro in 1998. He played in two Super Bowls: losing Super Bowl XXXI with Patriots and winning Super Bowl XXXV with Ravens. At the time of his retirement, Coates was fourth in NFL history in receptions by a tight end.
1970-Defensive end Eric Swann (Wake Technical Community College: 1990, selected sixth overall by the Phoenix Cardinals in the 1991 NFL Draft; Cardinals: 1991-2000, Panthers: 2000) born in Pinehurst, North Carolina
Career Stats: 463 combined tackles (386 solo), 46.5 sacks, two interceptions, six forced fumbles, eight fumbles recovered, one defensive touchdown
Swann was a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro in 1995 and 1996.
1974-Placekicker Ryan Longwell (California: 1993-96, signed with the San Francisco 49ers as an undrafted free agent in 1997; Packers: 1997-2005, Vikings: 2006-11, Seahawks: 2012) born in Seattle, Washington
Career Stats: 361 field goals made in 434 attempts (83.2 percent); 604 extra points made in 613 attempts (98.5 percent)
1966-Offensive tackle Zefross Moss (Alabama State: 1984-87, signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent in 1988; Cowboys: 1988, Colts: 1989-94, Lions: 1995-96, Patriots: 1997-99) born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Career Stats: Moss started in 137 of his 154 career NFL games
1968-Wide receiver Edward (Ed) McCaffrey (Stanford: 1987-90, selected 83rd overall by the New York Giants in the 1991 NFL Draft; Giants: 1991-93, 49ers: 1994, Broncos: 1995-2003) born in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania
Career Stats: 565 receptions for 7,422 yards and 55 touchdowns
McCaffrey was a Pro Bowl selection and a Second-team All-Pro in 1998. He won three Super Bowls in his career: Super Bowl XXIX with the 49ers and Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII with the Broncos. In 2000, McCaffrey and teammate Rod Smith became only the second wide receiver tandem in NFL history to record 100 receptions each in the same season. He was named to the Broncos 50th Anniversary Team.
1969–The defending Super Bowl champion New York Jets beat the New York Giants 37-14 in an exhibition game at the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut, resulting in the firing of Giants head coach Allie Sherman. It was the first game between the Jets and Giants, who have played annually in the preseason every year since.
1972-Tight end Ernest (Ernie) Conwell (Washington: 1992-95, selected by the St. Louis Rams with the 59th overall pick in the NFL Draft; Rams: 1996-2002, Saints: 2003-06) born in Renton, Washington
Career Stats: 203 receptions for 2,188 yards and 15 touchdowns
Conwell was an All-Pro in 2001. He won Super Bowl XXXIV with the Rams.
1979-Wide receiver Antwaan Randle El (Indiana: 1998-2001, selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 62nd overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft; Steelers: 2002-05, Redskins: 2006-09, Steelers: 2010) born in Riverdale, Illinois
Career Stats: 370 receptions for 4,467 yards and 15 touchdowns, 79 carries for 438 yards; 311 punt returns for 2,557 yards and five touchdowns, 79 kick returns for 1,759 yards and one touchdown
Randle El won Super Bowl XL with the Steelers
1941-Running back Matthew (Matt) Snell (Ohio State: 1961-63, selected third overall by the New York Jets in the 1964 AFL Draft, selected 49th overall by the New York Giants in the 1964 NFL Draft; Jets: 1964-72) born in Garfield, Georgia
Career Stats: 1,057 yards for 4,285 yards and 24 yards; 193 receptions for 1,375 yards and seven touchdowns
Snell was a three-time AFL All-Star (1964, 1966, 1969). He was instrumental in the Jets’ ball control game plan that helped them win Super Bowl III.
1951-Running back Gregory (Greg) Pruitt (Oklahoma: 1970-72, selected 30th overall by the Cleveland Browns in the 1973 NFL Draft; Browns: 1973-81, Raiders: 1982-84) born in Houston, Texas
Career Stats: 1,196 carries for 5,672 yards and 27 touchdowns; 328 receptions for 3,069 yards and 18 touchdowns
Pruitt was a five-time Pro Bowler (1973, 1974, 1976, 1977, 1983) and a Second-team All-Pro in 1977. He won Super Bowl XVIII with the Raiders.
1968-Return specialist Brian Mitchell (Louisiana-Lafayette: 1986-89, selected 130th overall by the Washington Redskins in the 1990 NFL Draft; Redskins: 1990-99, Eagles: 2000-02, Giants: 2003) born in Fort Polk, Pennsylvania
Career Stats: 463 punt returns for 4,999 yards and nine touchdowns, 607 kick returns for 14,014 yards and four touchdowns; 388 carries for 1,967 yards and 12 touchdowns, 255 receptions for 2,336 yards and four touchdowns
Mitchell is a three-time First-team All-Pro (1991, 1994, 1995), a Pro Bowl selection in 1995, and helped Redskins win Super Bowl XXVI. He is the NFL’s all-time leader in combined yardage by a player who isn’t a wide receiver. Mitchell is also second on the NFL’s all-time list for all-purpose yards (23,330) and second in special teams touchdowns (13).
1980-Tight end Jeremy Shockey (Miami [FL]: 1999-2001, selected 14th overall by the New York Giants in the 2002 NFL Draft; Giants: 2002-07, Saints: 2008-10, Panthers: 2011) born in Ada, Oklahoma
Career Stats: 547 receptions for 6,143 yards and 37 touchdowns
Shockey was a four-time Pro Bowler (2002, 2003, 2005, 2006) and a First-team All-Pro in 2002. He won two Super Bowls: Super Bowl XLII with the Giants and Super Bowl XLIV with the Saints.
1986–Quarterback Jim Kelly signs with the Buffalo Bills. Kelly was drafted by the Bills out of the University of Miami but he elected to play in the United States Football League’s Houston Gamblers. The Bills made the postseason in eight of Kelly’s 11 seasons including six division championships and four consecutive Super Bowl appearances (XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII).
1987–Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell announced his retirement
1958-Offensive tackle Michael (Anthony) Muñoz (USC: 1976-79, selected third overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1980 NFL Draft; Bengals: 1980-92, Buccaneers: 1993) born in Ontario, California
Career Stats: Muñoz started in 184 of his 185 career NFL games
Muñoz, who also pitched on USC’s 1978 national championship baseball team, was considered one of the best offensive linemen of his generation. He was an 11-time Pro Bowler (1981-91), a nine-time First-team All-Pro (1981-83, 1985-90), and a two-time Second-team All-Pro (1984, 1991). Muñoz played in both of the Bengals’ Super Bowl appearances (XVI, XXIII), both narrow losses to Bill Walsh’s San Francisco 49ers. He was named to the NFL 1980s All-Decade and NFL 75th Anniversary Teams and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
1960-Placekicker Morten Andersen (Michigan State: 1978-81, selected 86th overall by the New Orleans Saints in the 1982 NFL Draft; Saints: 1982-94, Falcons: 1995-2000, Giants: 2001, Chiefs: 2002-03, Vikings: 2004, Falcons: 2005) born in Copenhagen, Denmark
Career Stats: 565 field goals made in 709 attempts (79.7 percent), 849 extra points made in 859 attempts (98.8 percent)
Andersen was a seven-time Pro Bowler (1985-88, 1990, 1992, 1995) and a six-time First-team All-Pro (1985-88, 1992, 1995). He was a member of the NFL 1980s and 1990s All Decade Teams and a 2017 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
1981-Wide receiver/return specialist Nathaniel (Nate) Burleson (Nevada: 2000-02, selected 71st overall by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2003 NFL Draft; Vikings: 2003-05, Seahawks: 2006-09, Lions: 2010-13) born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Career Stats: 457 receptions for 5,630 yards and 39 touchdowns; 156 punt returns for 1,523 yards and three touchdowns, 57 kick returns for 1,286 yards and one touchdown
Burleson is currently one of the hosts of the NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football”.
1987-Safety Patrick Chung (Oregon: 2004-08, selected 34th overall by the New England Patriots in the 2009 NFL Draft; Patriots: 2009-12, Eagles: 2013, Patriots: 2014-present) born in Kingston, Jamaica
Career Stats: 561 combined tackles (357 solo), four sacks, nine interceptions, 41 passes defended, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, one defensive touchdown
Chung is a two-time Super Bowl champion (XLIX, LI) with the Patriots.
1988-Quarterback Kirk Cousins (Michigan State: 2007-11, selected 102nd overall by the Washington Redskins in the 2012 NFL Draft; Redskins: 2012-present) born in Holland, Michigan
Career Stats: 1,025 completions in 1,556 attempts for 12,113 yards, 72 touchdowns, and 42 interceptions; QB Rating: 93.6. Career record: 19-23-1 (postseason: 0-2); 74 carries for 200 yards and nine touchdowns
Cousins was a Pro Bowl selection in 2016.