I’m honored that my APBA Football brother and dear friend, Mark Zarb, will be posting his 1978 NFL replay on my blog. This will be his fifth full-season NFL replay. His previous efforts can be reviewed on the left-hand sidebar under the “Mark Zarb Vault” widget. His posts will consist of the scoring summary and stat-line for each game”.
Mark will be using cards that he created for use with the modern boards. His preparation for a replay is “legendary” and his “post-game” presentation will be upgraded but still provide the same historical information that his readers have become so accustomed to. If you have never followed one of his replays, all I can say is you are really missing out. In my opinion, he is the finest replayer in the world.
During the 1978 season, the league expanded the regular season from a 14-game schedule to 16. Furthermore, the playoff format was expanded from 8 teams to 10 teams by adding another wild card from each conference. The wild card teams played each other, with the winner advancing to the playoff round of eight teams.
The season ended with Super Bowl XIII when the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys at the Orange Bowl in Miami.
The average salary for a player in 1978 was under $62,600, up 13.2 percent over the previous year. Fran Tarkenton was the highest-paid quarterback at $360,000 and running back O.J. Simpson was the highest paid player, at just under $733,400.
The league passed major rule changes to encourage offensive scoring. In 1977 – the last year of the so-called “Dead Ball Era” – teams scored an average of 17.2 points per game, the lowest total since 1942.
- To open up the passing game, defenders are permitted to make contact with receivers only to a point of five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. This applies only to the time before the ball is thrown, at which point any contact is pass interference. Previously, contact was allowed anywhere on the field. This is usually referred to as the “Mel Blount Rule”
- The offensive team may only make one forward pass during a play from scrimmage, but only if the ball does not cross the line and return behind the line prior to the pass.
- Double touching of a forward pass is legal, but batting a pass towards the opponent’s end zone is illegal. Previously, a second offensive player could not legally catch a deflected pass unless a defensive player had touched it. This is usually referred to as the “Mel Renfro Rule”.
- The pass blocking rules were extended to permit extended arms and open hands.
- The penalty for intentional grounding is reduced from a loss of down and 15 yards to a loss of down and 10 yards from the previous spot (or at the spot of the foul if the spot is 10 yards or more behind the line of scrimmage). If the passer commits the foul in his own end zone, the defense scores a safety.
- Hurdling is no longer a foul.