Today is the anniversary of NFL’s switch to 16-game schedule

The 16-game regular season in the NFL has been the norm so long that it’s hard to remember when teams played fewer games.

But there was that time, as the Pro Football Hall of Fame shows in this chart to commemorate today’s 36th anniversary of the owners voting to expand the regular season.

The Seahawks played two seasons under the 14-game schedule that was used from 1961-1977. They went 2-12 in their inaugural season in 1976 and 5-9 in 1977.

The Nordstrom family was the majority owner of the team, which played its home game in the Kingdome. Jack Patera was the coach. Jim Zorn was the quarterback. Steve Largent was the leading receiver. Sherman Smith was the leading rusher. Dave Brown (’76) and Terry Beeson (’77) were the leading tacklers.

That ’76 season was short on victories, but long on long-anticipated excitement.

“We only won two games that first year,” recalls Zorn, who is now a member of the team’s Ring of Honor along with Largent and Brown. “But you would have thought we almost went to the playoffs. That’s how enthusiastic not only we were, but the fans were. Everybody was excited.”

And what a difference that one season made to the expansion Seahawks. As Smith puts it, “As a team, we definitely felt more like a team in ’77. There was just more familiarity, with what the coaches wanted from us and with what the guy next to you would do on any given play. That first year, it was just getting ready to go and coming to training camp with more than 100 guys. So in ’77, it was a totally different feeling.”


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