Joe Montana drove the 49ers to victory at the end of the 1988-'89 season.
Joe Montana drove the 49ers to victory at the end of the 1988-'89 season.

The 1984 NFL season was one of records -- broken records. Walter Payton smashed Jim Brown's career rushing record, Eric Dickerson set a single-season rushing mark, Dan Marino threw for 48 touchdowns and more than 5,000 yards and Art Monk caught 106 passes. Super Bowl XIX was a clash between San Francisco and Miami, with the 49ers prevailing, 38-16.

Super Bowl XX was one of the worst mismatches of all time as the over-achieving New England Patriots were embarrassed by one of the great teams in history, the 1985-86 Chicago Bears. The game was the most watched show/event in television annals, surpassing the final edition of M*A*S*H.

The New York Giants defeated the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXI, 39-20, and the Washington Redskins scalped the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII by a 42-10 count. The 1988-89 season was capped by one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever, as Joe Montana drove the San Francisco 49ers to victory in the closing moments over the Cincinnati Bengals, 20-16.

Off the field, Pete Rozelle announced his retirement, Jerry Jones bought the Dallas Cowboys and Art Shell was hired as the first black head coach in pro football since 1921.

San Francisco became the second team to win four Super Bowls (after Pittsburgh) when the 49ers blasted Denver, 55-10, in Super Bowl XXIV. The following season began a heartbreaking run for the Buffalo Bills, as they lost Super Bowl XXV to the New York Giants, 20-19. It was the first Super Bowl to be decided by one point.

The Redskins win it all!

For the third time in ten years the Washington Redskins copped the big prize, stampeding Buffalo, 37-24, in Super Bowl XXVI. The 1992-93 season saw Dallas humiliate Buffalo, 52-17, in the big game. The hapless Bills lost their fourth consecutive Super Bowl the following season as the Cowboys shot them down again, 30-13.

San Francisco took the spark out of the San Diego Chargers, 49-26, in Super Bowl XXIX as two California teams traveled to Miami to decide the champion. Dallas won once more in 1995-96 (third crown in the four years) as they whipped the Steelers, 27-17. Records fell during the regular season as Dan Marino set four all-time marks, Jerry Rice added two more and Emmitt Smith became the first player to score 25 touchdowns in a single season.

The Pack is back (again)!

The Green Bay Packers captured their first NFL title in more than a quarter of a century when they sacked the New England Patriots, 35-21, in Super Bowl XXXI. They were favored to repeat in 1997-98 but the Denver Broncos finally won a well-deserved crown in a 31-24 thriller. The Broncos proved it was no fluke the following season as they creamed the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII, 34-19.

The entire sports world was deeply saddened when the great Walter Payton died of liver cancer in 1999. He was the all-time NFL rushing leader until Emmitt Smith broke his record in 2002.

It was the clash of the Titans and the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV, but Tennessee came up one yard short and St. Louis won their first crown, 23-16. The 2000-2001 season culminated in Super Bowl XXXV, with the Baltimore Ravens crushing the New York Giants, 34-7.

One of the greatest Super Bowls in history pitted underdog New England against the mighty Rams. It looked as though it would be the first overtime Super Bowl, but the Patriots gambled, drove the field in the final seconds, and Adam Vinatieri booted through a 48-yarder for a 20-17 New England win. Super Bowl XXXVII saw the favorite fall once again as Tampa Bay's tenacious defense was too much for Oakland, 48-21.


Much of the information in this five-part article was provided by The Official National Football League Record & Fact Book.

Read the previous installments of Turning Pro!
Walter Payton captured the all-time NFL rushing record in 1984 and held it...
Walter Payton captured the all-time NFL rushing record in 1984 and held it...
...until Emmitt Smith rushed into the record books in 2002.
...until Emmitt Smith rushed into the record books in 2002.

Bruce Amspacher has been a professional writer since the 1950s and a professional numismatist since the 1960s. He won the OIPA sportswriting award in 1958 and again in 1959, then spent eight years in college studying American Literature. This background somehow led him to become a professional numismatist in 1968. Since then he has published hundreds of articles on rare coins in dozens of publications as well as publishing his own newsletter, the “Bruce Amspacher Investment Report,” for more than a decade. His areas of expertise include Liberty Seated dollars, Morgan and Peace dollars, United States gold coins, sports trivia, Western history, modern literature and the poetry of Emily Dickinson. In 1986 he was a co-founder of the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS).