The 1990 NFL season saw a few changes that shaped the league into what it is today. The NFL began to implement bye weeks for the first time since 1966, which meant teams would play a 16-game schedule in 17 weeks. Also, the playoff format was expanded from 10 teams to 12 by adding an additional wild card spot from each conference. The interesting thing about that is the league recently expanded the playoffs from 12 to 14.
The 1990 season was also the first full season for Paul Tagliabue as the NFL commissioner. He took over for Pete Rozelle midway through the 1989 season. And speaking of Rozelle, the NFL announced the Super Bowl MVP award would be renamed to the Pete Rozelle trophy. The season ended with the New York Giants defeating the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV at Tampa Stadium. It would be the first Super Bowl for the Bills, who would go on to lose the next three Super Bowls also.
It was also a time where there only three divisions in each conference and not four. And for whatever reason, the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints were playing in the NFC West while the Phoenix Cardinals (now Arizona Cardinals) were playing in the NFC East. Here's a look at the top players of the 1990 season.
QB Joe Montana - MVP winner
Joe Montana led the San Francisco 49ers to a 14-2 record, throwing for 3,944 yards, and 26 touchdowns. That was his last full season with the 49ers as he was injured all of the 1991 and most of the 1992 season. He finished his career with the Kansas City Chiefs and is now enjoying time with his family.prevnext
RB Emmitt Smith - Offensive Rookie of the Year
Emmitt Smith was drafted No. 17 overall by the Dallas Cowboys in 1990 and made an immediate impact, rushing for 973 yards and 11 touchdowns. He went on to rush for 18,355 yards and 164 touchdowns in his career, which was good enough to put him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Smith has made TV appearances on various shows over the years including Dancing with the Stars. In 2019, Smith's son, Emmitt Smith IV, signed to play college football at Stanford.prevnext
QB Warren Moon - Offensive Player of the Year
Warren Moon could be considered one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history to never play in the Super Bowl. In 1990, Moon threw for 4,690 yards and 23 touchdowns for the Houston Oilers. He would go on to play 11 more years in the NFL and finish with 49,325 passing yards. Moon makes appearances on media outlets such as TMZ and CBS Sports radio as he shares his thoughts on NFL and college football.prevnext
DE Bruce Smith - Defensive Player of the Year
Bruce Smith was a big reason why the Bills reached the Super Bowl in 1990, recording 19 sacks with 101 tackles. He won Defensive Player of the Year again in 1996 and finished his career with 200 sacks, an NFL record. Smith makes public appearances from time-to-time. In 2015, he was featured in the ESPN 30 for 30 film Four Falls of Buffalo.prevnext
S Mark Carrier - Defensive Rookie of the Year
In his rookie season with the Chicago Bears, Mark Carrier recorded 122 tackles and 10 interceptions. He was named to the Pro Bowl for that season, 1991 and 1993, and was recently named as one of the 100 greatest Bears o All-Time. Carrier retired from the NFL after the 2000 season and began coaching in 2004. He spent time coaching at Arizona State, the Baltimore Ravens, New York Jets and Cincinnati Bengals. He currently works for the Sports USA Radio Network as an analyst for college football and NFL games.prevnext
RB Ottis Anderson - Super Bowl MVP
Ottis Anderson rushed for 102 yards on 21 carries to help the Giants won Super Bowl XXV. He played in the NFL from 1979-1992 and rushed for 10,273 yards and 76 touchdowns. Anderson is active on Twitter and has built a career in entrepreneurship and motivational speaking.prevnext
WR Jerry Rice - Receiving Yards Leader
Jerry Rice was in the prime of his career when he caught 100 passes for 1,502 yards and 13 touchdowns for the 49ers in 1990. Some have argued Rice is the best player in NFL history, catching 1,549 passes for 22,895 yards and 197 touchdowns. He's one of the great ambassadors for the NFL, making constant appearances on different shows. He's also very active on social media, especially on Twitter.prev