Canceled NFL games

The following is a list of 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 due to labor disputes between the league and the National Football League Players Association. In the first labor dispute (1974) and, to date, the most recent dispute (2011), only one preseason game each were lost while seven weeks of regular season games were canceled in 1982 and one week of regular season games was canceled in 1987.

In addition only four other games (all exhibition) were 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. The three other canceled exhibition games were the result of unsafe playing fields: a 1995 NFL preseason game between the San Diego Chargers and the Houston Oilers [1] a 2001 preseason game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Philadelphia Eagles,[2] and the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.[3]

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. Several years after 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 last unpunished cancellation of a regular season NFL game is believed to have been a November 17, 1935 contest between the Boston Redskins at Philadelphia Eagles game, which was canceled due to severe rain and snow.

Several games were removed from the schedules of the NFL teams of the early 1940s, but because the issues (namely, World War II, the loss of marquee talent to the war effort, and restrictions on resource usage) were already foreseen by the start of the 1942 season, the league was able to issue shortened schedules from the start without having to cancel already scheduled contests.

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, although at least one game was held with the Denver Broncos using a squad of rookie replacement players.[4]

1982 Players Strike

In 1982, players began a 57-day strike following the completion of Week 2 of the regular season. As a result of the impasse, games were simply canceled until a settlement was reached (ultimately, Weeks 3-9). Upon reaching that settlement, the NFL announced that Weeks 11–16 played would be played as scheduled, and the games originally scheduled for Week 3 of the season would be played following the completion of the resumed regular season (as a new week 17), with the playoffs being pushed back one week. Later, the NFL decided to use the final week 17 to hold various intra-division games from cancelled Weeks 3-9 instead of merely playing the week 3 games. This was done to increase attendance and to allow some teams to balance out home and away games, to the extent possible (either five home and four away, or four home and five away). Because the 1982 shortened season would include only nine regular season contests played by each club, the NFL announced that the three divisions in each of the two conferences would be eliminated that year, and the regular season would be followed by an expansion of the playoffs from 10 to 16 teams. So each conference had 14 teams competing for 8 playoff spots, with no division standings, just overall conference standings. Each of the first three rounds of the playoffs was pushed back one week in order to make room for the new week 17 (which was originally supposed to be the Wild Card weekend). This was possible as there was an idle week between the Conference Championship games and the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl was held as originally scheduled.

1982 games lost

Note: Some of the games originally scheduled for Weeks 3-9 below were rescheduled to a new, final Week 17.

Week Three – September 26

DayVisiting TeamHome Team
ThursdayAtlantaKansas City
SundayChicagoSan Francisco
SundayDenverNew Orleans
SundayL.A. RamsPhiladelphia
SundayMiamiGreen Bay
SundayN.Y. GiantsPittsburgh
SundayN.Y. JetsBaltimore
SundaySeattleNew England
SundayTampa BayDetroit

Week Four – October 3

DayVisiting TeamHome Team
SundayHoustonN.Y. Jets
SundayKansas CitySeattle
SundayL.A. RamsSt. Louis
SundayNew EnglandBuffalo
SundayNew OrleansL.A. Raiders
SundayN.Y. GiantsDallas
SundayPhiladelphiaGreen Bay
SundaySan DiegoAtlanta
MondaySan FranciscoTampa Bay

Week Five – October 10

DayVisiting TeamHome Team
SundayAtlantaL.A. Rams
SundayCincinnatiNew England
SundayClevelandL.A. Raiders
SundayDenverN.Y. Jets
SundayGreen BayChicago
SundayHoustonKansas City
SundayMinnesotaTampa Bay
SundaySan FranciscoNew Orleans
SundaySeattleSan Diego
SundaySt. LouisN.Y. Giants

Week Six – October 17

DayVisiting TeamHome Team
SundayChicagoSt. Louis
SundayCincinnatiN.Y. Giants
SundayKansas CitySan Diego
SundayL.A. RaidersSeattle
SundayNew EnglandMiami
SundayNew OrleansMinnesota
SundayTampa BayGreen Bay
MondayBuffaloN.Y. Jets

Week Seven – October 24

DayVisiting TeamHome Team
SundayGreen BayMinnesota
SundayL.A. RaidersDenver
SundayNew OrleansL.A. Rams
SundaySt. LouisNew England
SundaySan DiegoSeattle
SundaySan FranciscoAtlanta
SundayTampa BayChicago

Week Eight – October 31

DayVisiting TeamHome Team
SundayChicagoGreen Bay
SundayDallasN.Y. Giants
SundayL.A. RamsSan Diego
SundayMiamiL.A. Raiders
SundayNew EnglandN.Y. Jets
SundayPhiladelphiaSt. Louis
SundaySan FranciscoWashington
SundaySeattleKansas City
SundayTampa BayBaltimore

Week Nine – November 7

DayVisiting TeamHome Team
SundayBaltimoreNew England
SundayGreen BayTampa Bay
SundayKansas CityL.A. Raiders
SundayL.A. RamsNew Orleans
SundayMinnesotaSan Francisco
SundayN.Y. GiantsCleveland
SundayN.Y. JetsBuffalo
SundaySt. LouisDallas
MondaySan DiegoMiami

Week Ten – November 14

DayVisiting TeamHome Team
SundayDallasSan Francisco
SundayDenverKansas City
SundayL.A. RaidersBaltimore
SundayNew OrleansSan Diego
SundayN.Y. GiantsL.A. Rams
SundayN.Y. JetsPittsburgh
SundaySeattleSt. Louis

Games postponed to new Week 17

In order to ensure maximal attendance, and to balance out home and away games for each team, to the extent possible (either five home and four away, or four home and five away), the NFL made 12 of the 14 games in the final week of the rescheduled season (Week 17) select intra-division games that were picked from cancelled Weeks 3-9, instead of merely playing out Week 3 games, as had originally been planned. This was the maximum number mathematically possible, since four of the six divisions at that time had an odd number of teams (the two games that were not intra-division were New York Jets at Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings). The New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles Monday Night game originally scheduled for Week 7 was moved to Sunday, while the Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings game originally scheduled for Week 3 on Sunday was moved to Monday.

OrgDayVisiting TeamHome Team
3SundaySt. LouisWashington
3SundayL.A. RaidersSan Diego
6SundayL.A. RamsSan Francisco
7SundayN.Y. JetsKansas City
7SundayN.Y. GiantsPhiladelphia
8SundayAtlantaNew Orleans
10SundayBuffaloNew England
10SundayChicagoTampa Bay
10SundayGreen BayDetroit

1987 Players Strike

In 1987, the players went on strike 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.

1987 games lost

Week Three – September 27

DayVisiting TeamHome Team
SundayAtlantaNew Orleans
SundayCincinnatiL.A. Rams
SundayGreen BayTampa Bay
SundayIndianapolisSt. Louis
Sunday MinnesotaKansas City
SundayL.A. RaidersHouston
SundayNew EnglandWashington
SundayN.Y. GiantsMiami
SundayN.Y. JetsPittsburgh
SundayPhiladelphiaSan Francisco
SundaySeattleSan Diego

1995 preseason game in Houston

An August 19, 1995 preseason game between the San Diego Chargers and the Houston Oilers was the first game in NFL history to be canceled because of turf problems. An NFL official canceled the preseason game before kickoff after determining the Astrodome's artificial turf endangered the players. [5]

2001 preseason game in Philadelphia

An August 13, 2001 preseason game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Philadelphia Eagles was canceled because of an unplayable playing surface at Veterans Stadium. This was scheduled to be the first football game played at the stadium after a new artificial surface, NexTurf, was installed. Because the multi-purpose stadium was shared by both the Eagles and the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team, this surface (and the previous artificial turf installations before it) included cutouts that covered up the dirt infield around the bases. After examining the turf, Ravens coach Brian Billick refused to let the Ravens take the field for warm-ups when he discovered a trench around the area where third base was covered up by one of the cutouts. City crews unsuccessfully tried to fix the problem, forcing the game to be canceled. Later, players from both teams reported that they sank into the turf in locations near the infield cutouts. Team president Joe Banner was irate after the game, calling the stadium's conditions "absolutely unacceptable" and "an embarrassment to the city of Philadelphia."[6] City officials, however, promised that the stadium would be suitable for play when the regular season started. The Eagles would later move into Lincoln Financial Field in 2003, and the Phillies would move into its own separate ballpark, Citizens Bank Park, in 2004.

September 11, 2001 attacks

In the wake of the September 11 attacks, the NFL postponed the games for Week 2 of the 2001 season (originally scheduled for September 16 – 17) until the end of the regular season. All playoff games following the 2001 regular season, including Super Bowl XXXVI, and the 2002 Pro Bowl were re-scheduled one week later.

This was in contrast during the wake of the John F. Kennedy assassination in 1963 when the NFL went ahead and played its full slate of games that week, a decision that then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle would later regret,[7] though he also stated that Pierre Salinger, Kennedy's secretary, had urged him to allow the games to be played.[8] Meanwhile, the American Football League canceled week 12 of its 1963 season and later rescheduled those games.

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.[9] 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 the game.[10][11]

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.[12][13] 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.

2016 Hall of Fame Game

The 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game was canceled at the last minute due to poor playing conditions on the newly installed FieldTurf that had been placed at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in the off-season. Mike Silver of reported that on the morning of game day, the logos on the field had been painted using "improper" paint which was not drying fast enough. The field was heated in an attempt to dry it, but this caused the turf's rubber to melt. These issues led to unfavorable play conditions; the affected areas were described as being slick and "like cement". Stadium officials attempted to address this by applying a solvent, reportedly paint thinner, to the turf. After noticing a label warning that skin contact with this substance could result in burns, a Green Bay Packers employee alerted others to the discovery. When officially cancelling the game, both the league and the Players Association cited safety concerns.[14][15]

Effects due to severe weather and natural disasters

In the modern era, severe weather or natural disasters have affected some games, but none have been canceled outright – they were either switched to a different location, or to a different date in the schedule.

The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damaged Candlestick Park, forcing the San Francisco 49ers to play their next home game against New England Patriots at Stanford University's Stanford Stadium.[16]

In 1992, Hurricane Andrew forced the September 6 opening-day game between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins at Joe Robbie Stadium to be rescheduled to October 18, when both teams originally had a bye week.[17]

In the wake of the October 25, 2003 Cedar Fire, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to assist in the disaster relief process. Because of the soot and particulate matter in the air from the fire two days earlier, the NFL was forced to move the Monday Night Football game on October 27 between the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona.[18]

In 2004, the Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins opening-day game, scheduled for Sunday, September 12 at 1 PM ET, was rescheduled to Saturday, September 11 at 1 PM ET due to Hurricane Ivan.[19]

In 2004, the Pittsburgh Steelers at Miami Dolphins game was moved back on Sunday, September 26, from 1 PM ET to 8:30 PM ET due to Hurricane Jeanne.[20]

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 damaged the Louisiana Superdome. The NFL decided that the New Orleans Saints' first regularly scheduled home game against the New York Giants be played in Giants Stadium in New Jersey, with the Saints the home team in name only.[21] For the rest of the season, the Saints home games were split between the Alamodome in San Antonio and Louisiana State University's Tiger Stadium.

In 2005, the NFL moved up the Kansas City Chiefs at Miami Dolphins game from Sunday, October 23 at 1 PM ET to Friday, October 21 at 7 PM ET due to the upcoming Hurricane Wilma.[22]

In 2010, a severe storm in Minnesota deposited over 17 inches (43 cm) of snow on the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which caused the roof to collapse about 24 hours later, early in the morning of December 12. The Minnesota Vikings had been scheduled to host the New York Giants that afternoon. Prior to the collapse, the game had already been postponed to Monday night, December 13, due to the concerns of stadium officials. The game was relocated to Ford Field in Detroit, still played Monday night.[23] The Vikings' December 20 game against Chicago was moved to TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus.[24] The collapse affected no further NFL games, as the rest of the Vikings' 2010 season consisted of road games, and the team had already been eliminated from playoff contention.

On December 26, 2010, a Sunday Night Football game between the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia was postponed to Tuesday, December 28, due to a severe snowstorm. It was the first Tuesday NFL game in 64 years.[25]

In 2014, a severe snowstorm that hit the Buffalo area forced a New York Jets-Buffalo Bills game, originally scheduled for November 23, to be moved to Detroit's Ford Field on November 24.[26]

Effects of shared stadiums and sports complexes

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 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. This was a frequent occurrence when there were several shared stadiums across the country, but since 2012 only one such venue remains: Coliseum in Oakland, home of the NFL Raiders and the MLB Athletics; both teams are in the process of exploring a new stadium.

Although NFL/MLB-shared stadiums are now rare instead of the norm, there are several current NFL stadiums that share the same parking lots and other ancillary facilities with an adjacent MLB ballpark, thus also preventing both teams from playing simultaneously. (This also occurs when two NFL franchises in different cities share a common geographic area, namely the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers, where the cities do not want the teams playing home games on the same day, due to Bay Area traffic concerns.)

On October 12, 1964, the St. Louis Cardinals were forced to move their scheduled home game vs. the Baltimore Colts to Memorial Stadium, since St. Louis' Busch Stadium I was being used for the World Series by the baseball team also called the St. Louis Cardinals. Even though game five of the World Series was played that day at Yankee Stadium, the football Cardinals could not use the stadium until the baseball team, the stadium's owner, had completed its season.

The Atlanta Falcons were forced to move their October 5, 1969 home game vs. the Colts from Atlanta Stadium to Grant Field at Georgia Tech due to the Atlanta Braves hosting the New York Mets in game two of the National League Championship Series. The same day, the Minnesota Vikings moved their home game vs. the Green Bay Packers from Metropolitan Stadium to Memorial Stadium at the University of Minnesota due to an American League Championship Series game between the Minnesota Twins and Baltimore Orioles.

The 1973 New York Jets faced the same situation as the 1964 Cardinals. The New York Mets unexpectedly reached the World Series, and under the terms of the Jets' lease at Shea Stadium in place at the time, there could be no football games at the stadium in Queens until the Mets' season was complete. Thus, the Jets were forced to move their October 21 game vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers from Shea to Three Rivers Stadium, even though the final game of the Series at Shea was played October 18 (games six and seven were played at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, home of the Oakland Athletics).

In 1987, the Sunday, October 18 World Series Game 2 between St. Louis Cardinals andMinnesota Twins led to the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to switch home dates for their two games that season.

In 1987, the next week, the Sunday, October 25 World Series Game 7 between the St. Louis Cardinals and Minnesota Twins led the NFL to reschedule the Denver Broncos at Minnesota Vikings) game to the following Monday night, October 26.

In 1989, the Sunday, October 8 New Orleans Saints at San Francisco 49ers game was postponed until Monday, November 6, due to MLB's National League Championship Series Chicago Cubs at San Francisco Giants games October 7, 8, and 9. Instead, the San Francisco 49ers played at New Orleans that Sunday.

In 1997, the Sunday, October 26 Cleveland Indians at Florida Marlins World Series game caused the NFL to reschedule the Chicago Bears at Miami Dolphins game for the following Monday night, October 27.[27]

In 2001, a potential Oakland Athletics baseball playoff game forced the Oakland Raiders to play their contest against the Dallas Cowboys two weeks in advance to avoid a possible conflict, when both clubs originally had their bye week (as it turned out, the Athletics ended up getting eliminated a few days before the originally scheduled date of the Cowboys-Raiders game).[28]

In 2009, the New York GiantsPhiladelphia Eagles game at Lincoln Financial Field was moved from 4:15 pm to 1:00 pm to accommodate the Philadelphia Phillies hosting Game 4 of the 2009 World Series at adjacent Citizens Bank Park.[29]

A 2013 baseball playoff game forced the Oakland Raiders to postpone their originally scheduled Sunday afternoon game against the San Diego Chargers from 4:25 pm Eastern/1:25 pm Pacific to a far late-night start time of 11:35 Eastern/8:35 Pacific.[30]


  4. Ford, Mark L. (2000). "25 Significant "Meaningless" NFL Games" (PDF). The Coffin Corner. 22 (5). Pro Football Researchers Association. Retrieved January 19, 2010.
  6. "N.F.L.: ROUNDUP; Eagles' Turf Unsafe For Ravens' Game". The New York Times. August 14, 2001. Retrieved April 14, 2009.
  7. Mayer, Larry (November 22, 2013). "With nation mourning JFK, NFL games were played". Chicago Bears. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  8. Mayer, Larry (November 22, 2013). "1963 season: Bears tie Steelers 17–17". Chicago Bears. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  9. 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.
  10. La Canfora, Jason (July 22, 2011). Players need more time to resolve issues with proposed deal. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
  11. Hammond, Joel (July 22, 2011). NFL collective bargaining deal still awaits players' approval. Crain's Cleveland Business. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
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  13. Roth, Andy (2011-06-07). Report: NFL plans for short season if necessary. WGR. Retrieved 2011-06-08.
  14. Demovsky, Rob (August 7, 2016). "Poor field conditions force cancellation of Hall of Fame game". Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  15. "Hall of Fame Game fiasco: How the wrong paint, melted rubber, and caustic paint thinner nixed Packers-Colts". Acme Packing Company (SBNation). Vox Media. Retrieved 10 August 2016.
  16. "NFL History: 1981–1990". Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  17. "Dolphins and Patriots Reschedule Opener". Los Angeles Times. 1992-08-29. Retrieved 2013-09-15.
  18. "Fires move Monday night game to Tempe". 2003-10-26. Archived from the original on 2006-10-14. Retrieved 2006-12-17. External link in |publisher= (help)
  21. "Saints home opener at New York" (PDF). New Orleans Times-Picayune. 2005-09-03. Retrieved 2007-01-12. External link in |publisher= (help)
  23. Giants-Vikings moved to Ford Field,, December 12, 2010, accessed December 12, 2010.
  24. Monday's Vikings-Bears game will be played at U's stadium; Dome won't be ready Archived December 18, 2010, at the Wayback Machine., Star Tribune, December 14, 2010, Accessed December 14, 2010.
  25. "Fierce storm sacks Vikings-Eagles game". ESPN. 2010-12-27. Retrieved 2012-12-15.
  26. "Jets-Bills game moved to Detroit on Monday night". November 20, 2014. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  28. "Cowboys-Raiders game moved to Oct. 21". Associated Press. USA Today. September 19, 2001. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  29. "NFL changes times as Series looms". Associated Press. October 13, 2009. Retrieved October 18, 2013.
  30. Gutierrez, Paul (September 30, 2013). "Raiders to have late kickoff Sunday". ESPN. Retrieved October 18, 2013.

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