The 1980s National Football League was an era of cookie-cutter stadiums, concrete hard Astroturf fields, dome stadiums especially for teams who played in cold weather cities, like Minneapolis. And it was basically the birth of the passing age in the NFL. The illegal contact rule and the new blocking rules of 1978 and new offensive-minded head coaches like Bill Walsh, Tom Flores, Joe Gibbs, Dan Reeves, Don Coryell, Joe Walton, Sam Wyche really opened up offensive football and the league has only continued to move in that direction ever since.
It was an era where the dominate Steel Curtain Pittsburgh Steelers were no more and where the Los Angeles Raiders who probably should’ve taken over for the Steelers as the new dominant team in the NFL, didn’t quite live up to that. Even though all in all they had a pretty good decade winning two Super Bowls, but 1986 or so were no longer a championship contender in the NFL. And became a franchise just trying to make the AFC Playoffs every year. And what happened was the San Francisco 49ers took that mantle instead from the Steelers. And became great team on offense and defense throughout the decade.
But what is great about football, it is not what I call arenaball, what is called arena football. As much as Roger Goodell might want to change that and turn the NFL into a total offensive league, there is still two sides of the game, offense and defense. And there were still great defensive teams and players in the 1980s. Like with Chicago Bears 46 defense led by Buddy Ryan, who took that to Philadelphia as the Eagles new head coach. And in New York with their elephant two-deep defense that the Giants played led by head coach Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick.
The 1980s was an era for the NFL where the great teams of the 1970s like the Steelers, Raiders and Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings took a step back and needed to regroup and come back in the 1990s as championship contenders again. And where new teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Redskins, New York Giants, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns stepped up and either became champions or at least championship contenders. And a decade where the NFL just became more popular and more balanced. Where offenses and defenses were now treated equally under the rules.
VHS Sports: NFL- The 80s Era of Excellence