|Duration||September 6 – December 28, 1998|
|Start date||January 2, 1999|
|AFC Champions||Denver Broncos|
|NFC Champions||Atlanta Falcons|
|Super Bowl XXXIII|
|Date||January 31, 1999|
|Site||Pro Player Stadium, Miami|
|Date||February 7, 1999|
The 1998 NFL season was the 79th regular season of the National Football League.
The season culminated with Super Bowl XXXIII, with the Denver Broncos defeating the Atlanta Falcons 34–19 at Pro Player Stadium in Miami. The Broncos had won their first thirteen games, the best start since the undefeated 1972 Dolphins, and were tipped by some to have a realistic chance at winning all nineteen games. The Minnesota Vikings became the first team since the 1968 Baltimore Colts to win all but one of their regular season games and not win the Super Bowl. After no team had won 14 regular season games since the 1992 49ers, three teams went 14–2 or better for the only time in a 16-game season.
Football Outsiders argued that "1998 was the last hurrah for the great quarterbacks who came into the league in the 1980s. The top four QBs [statistically] were all over 35: Vinny Testaverde, Randall Cunningham, Steve Young, and John Elway. Troy Aikman, age 32, was fifth. Dan Marino was 11th in his last good year."
The 1998 NFL Draft was held from April 17 to 18, 1998 at New York City's Theater at Madison Square Garden. With the first pick, the Indianapolis Colts selected quarterback Peyton Manning from the University of Tennessee.
Dale Hamer and Gary Lane returned to head linesman and side judge, respectively. Tony Corrente and Ron Winter were promoted to referee.
Mike Pereira left the field after two seasons as a side judge to become an assistant supervisor of officials. He succeeded Jerry Seeman as Vice President of Officiating in 2001. Pereira's replacement, Terry McAulay, assumed Pereira's old position and uniform number (77). McAulay was promoted to referee in 2001 and was crew chief for three Super Bowls (XXXIX, XLIII and XLVIII).
The 1998 Hall of Fame Class included Paul Krause, Tommy McDonald, Anthony Muñoz, an offensive lineman for the Cincinnati Bengals, Mike Singletary, a member of the Chicago Bears Super Bowl XX championship team, and Dwight Stephenson, a Pro Bowl offensive lineman with the Miami Dolphins.
Highlights of the 1998 season included:
Main article: 1998–99 NFL playoffs
|Jan 3 – Alltel Stadium||Jan 10 – Giants Stadium|
|3||Jacksonville||25||Jan 17 – Mile High Stadium|
|Jan 2 – Pro Player Stadium||2||NY Jets||10|
|Jan 9 – Mile High Stadium|
|4||Miami||24||Jan 31 – Pro Player Stadium|
|Wild Card playoffs|
|Jan 3 – 3Com Park||A1||Denver||34|
|Jan 9 – Georgia Dome|
|5||Green Bay||27||Super Bowl XXXIII|
|4||San Francisco||30||Jan 17 – Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome|
|Jan 2 – Texas Stadium||2||Atlanta||30*|
|Jan 10 – Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome|
* Indicates overtime victory
|Points scored||Minnesota Vikings (556)|
|Total yards gained||San Francisco 49ers (6,800)|
|Yards rushing||San Francisco 49ers (2,544)|
|Yards passing||Minnesota Vikings (4,328)|
|Fewest points allowed||Miami Dolphins (265)|
|Fewest total yards allowed||San Diego Chargers (4,208)|
|Fewest rushing yards allowed||San Diego Chargers (1,140)|
|Fewest passing yards allowed||Philadelphia Eagles (2,720)|
|Scoring||Gary Anderson, Minnesota (164 points)|
|Touchdowns||Terrell Davis, Denver (23 TDs)|
|Most field goals made||Al Del Greco, Tennessee (36 FGs)|
|Rushing||Terrell Davis, Denver (2,008 yards)|
|Passing||Randall Cunningham, Minnesota, (106.0 rating)|
|Passing touchdowns||Steve Young, San Francisco (36 TDs)|
|Pass receiving||O.J. McDuffie, Miami (90 catches)|
|Pass receiving yards||Antonio Freeman, Green Bay (1,424)|
|Receiving touchdowns||Randy Moss, Minnesota (17 touchdowns)|
|Punt returns||Deion Sanders, Dallas (15.6 average yards)|
|Kickoff returns||Terry Fair, Detroit (28.0 average yards)|
|Interceptions||Ty Law, New England (8)|
|Punting||Craig Hentrich, Tennessee (47.2 average yards)|
|Sacks||Michael Sinclair, Seattle (16.5)|
|Most Valuable Player||Terrell Davis, running back, Denver|
|Coach of the Year||Dan Reeves, Atlanta|
|Offensive Player of the Year||Terrell Davis, running back, Denver|
|Defensive Player of the Year||Reggie White, defensive end, Green Bay|
|Offensive Rookie of the Year||Randy Moss, wide receiver, Minnesota|
|Defensive Rookie of the Year||Charles Woodson, cornerback, Oakland|
|NFL Comeback Player of the Year||Doug Flutie, quarterback, Buffalo|
|NFL Man of the Year||Dan Marino, quarterback, Miami|
|Super Bowl Most Valuable Player||John Elway, quarterback, Denver|
This was the first season that CBS held the rights to televise AFC games, taking over from NBC. Meanwhile, this was the first time that ESPN broadcast all of the Sunday night games throughout the season (this was also the first season in which ESPN's coverage used the Monday Night Football themes, before reverting to using an original theme in 2001). ABC and Fox renewed their rights for Monday Night Football and the NFC package, respectively. All of these networks signed eight-year television contracts through the 2005 season.
This was also the first season where the late games kicked off at 4:05pm ET & 4:15pm ET (replacing the original 4:00pm ET start time), to give networks more time to finish the early games before the start of the late games. The 4:15 start time would last until 2011.
MNF broadcasts were also pushed back from its 9:00pm ET start time to 8:00pm ET. The actual kickoffs were at 8:20pm, preceded by a new pregame show hosted by Chris Berman. Frank Gifford was then reassigned as a special contributor to the pregame show, while Boomer Esiason replaced Gifford in the booth.
Longtime CBS Sports announcer Jim Nantz was named as the host of the revived The NFL Today pregame show, with Marcus Allen, Brent Jones, and George Seifert as analysts. For its new lead broadcast team, CBS hired Greg Gumbel and Phil Simms from NBC. Randy Cross also came from NBC, and was paired with longtime CBS Sports announcer Verne Lundquist to form the network's new #2 crew.
Fox hired Cris Collinsworth from NBC to replace Ronnie Lott as one of the Fox NFL Sunday analysts.
ESPN hired Paul Maguire from NBC to join Mike Patrick and Joe Theismann in a three-man booth.