The following is a list of regular season games that have been canceled by the National Football League since 1933. While canceling games was extremely common prior to this date, since that year, the NFL has only seen four instances in which games have been canceled and not been rescheduled. In the first case (1974) and, to date, the most recent (2011), only one preseason game was canceled, while seven weeks of regular season games were lost in 1982 and one week of regular season games was lost in 1987. In all four seasons, the cancellations were the results of labor disputes between the league and the National Football League Players Association.
In addition to this game, one other game (albeit an exhibition) was canceled for reasons other than a labor dispute: the China Bowl, which was originally scheduled to take place in 2007, was postponed to 2009 and eventually canceled due to an economic recession.
- 1 1920s and 1930s
- 2 1974 Players Strike
- 3 1982 Players Strike
- 4 1987 Players Strike
- 5 2011 Owners Lockout
- 6 Other instances of postponement
- 7 1982 games lost
- 8 1987 games lost
- 9 References
- 10 External links
1920s and 1930s
Canceling games was far more common in the 1920s and early 1930s, in the founding years of the league. When a team did not want to play a game, they could cancel without any punishment or penalty. When league schedules were standardized in 1933, cancellations were effectively banned, and teams would have to forfeit the game or postpone if a cancellation was due to issues outside the team's control. There have been no forfeits in the league's history; a 1921 game between the Rochester Jeffersons and the Washington Senators is occasionally listed as a forfeit, but because of the lax cancellation rules of the time, is listed in modern records as a cancellation. The November 17, 1935 Boston Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles game was canceled due to rain and snow.
1974 Players Strike
The 1974 College All-Star Game, an exhibition game that pitted the most recent Super Bowl champion (Miami Dolphins) against a team composed entirely of rookies, was canceled as a result of a players' strike. The strike was resolved before any further games were canceled; the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, along with the rest of the 1974 NFL season, went on as scheduled.
1982 Players Strike
In 1982, players began a 57-day strike following the completion of the second week of the regular season. As a result of the impasse, games were simply canceled until a settlement was reached. Upon reaching that settlement, the NFL announced that the games originally scheduled for the third week of the season would be played following the completion of the resumed regular season, which saw weeks 11-16 played as scheduled. This meant the 1982 shortened season would include only nine regular season contests played by each club. This was followed by an expansion of the playoffs from 10 to 16 teams.
The games that were played as 'Week Nine' that season, in the first weekend of January in 1983, was a hodgepodge of games from canceled weeks. In the grid below, those selected games to be played in this new 9th week are highlighted in bold and italic. To accommodate television, the Monday Night Football game in that 'relocated' week was decided upon with the Cowboys-Vikings in the Metrodome.
1987 Players Strike
In 1987, the players walked off the job for a second time in-season, again following the second week of the campaign. However, unlike 1982, the owners took the bold step of using replacement players. After missing just one week of action, the NFL resumed with replacement players for Week 4. By the time Week 6 had rolled around, enough players had crossed the picket lines and forced an agreement. The canceled games of Week 3 simply weren't made up, and the league counted the three weeks of game results featuring the replacement players as regular season games toward each team's final standings. By Week 7, the teams had all players back in action, with all teams completing a 15-game schedule. Also unlike 1982, there was no change to the playoff format that season.
2011 Owners Lockout
On July 22, 2011, the NFL announced that that year's Pro Football Hall of Fame Game (originally set for August 7 of that year between Chicago and St. Louis) had been canceled, due to an ongoing lockout that had been in place since March of that year. The league approved a new collective bargaining agreement on July 21, but at the same time announced the cancellation of the game, citing the fact that the players would not have enough time in training camp to prepare before game.
The NFL also had contingency plans to cancel and/or postpone regular season games (up to eight) if a labor agreement could not be reached by the start of the regular season. The league did not have to implement the plans, since the players association agreed to terms with the NFL on July 25, ending the lockout.
Other instances of postponement
Games have been postponed in the modern era of the league have been rare instances in which severe weather hampered the ability for a team to host a home game. But in all of those cases, those games either saw a switch in the location of the games or the moving of the game to a different date in the schedule. There have also been rare occasions in which games had to be pushed back one night because of a last-minute scheduling conflict in the facility of those games. Most notably this has happened when an NFL team has shared a home stadium with a team from Major League Baseball and the baseball team has needed the building for a post-season game.
One other notable instance saw the NFL postpone the games for Week 2 of the 2001 season until the end of the regular season. This was because of the September 11th Terrorist Attacks on New York City and Washington, DC. The American Football League also canceled week 12 of its 1963 season due to the John F. Kennedy assassination (all games were later rescheduled); the NFL did not follow suit and played its full slate of games that week.
In December 2010, a Sunday Night Football game between the Vikings and Eagles in Philadelphia was postponed to a Tuesday due to a snow emergency. It was the first Tuesday NFL game in 64 years.
1982 games lost
Week Three - September 26
Week Four - October 3
Week Five - October 10
Week Six - October 17
Week Seven - October 24
Week Eight - October 31
Week Nine - November 7
Week Ten - November 14
1987 games lost
Week Three - September 27
- Pro Football Hall of Fame’s statement regarding cancellation of NFL/Hall of Fame Game. Pro Football Hall of Fame news release. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
- La Canfora, Jason (July 22, 2011). Players need more time to resolve issues with proposed deal. NFL.com. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
- Hammond, Joel (July 22, 2011). NFL collective bargaining deal still awaits players' approval. Crain's Cleveland Business. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
- Schefter, Adam (2011-04-21). "NFL schedule could buy three weeks". ESPN. http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=6404790. Retrieved 2011-04-21.
- Roth, Andy (2011-06-07). Report: NFL plans for short season if necessary. WGR. Retrieved 2011-06-08.
- "1982 NFL Strike Stuff". crief.posterous.com. http://crief.posterous.com/1982-nfl-strike-schedule-stuff.