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The American Bowl was a series of National Football League pre-season exhibition games that were held at sites outside the United Statesmarker between 1986 and 2005.


The league started the American Bowl series in 1986 primarily to promote American football in other countries. After successful games in Londonmarker's Wembley Stadiummarker, the series was expanded to Japan. Since 1990, games have also been played in Montrealmarker and Berlinmarker to promote the new WLAF (later NFL Europe) which started in 1991. The 1997 game was played in Dublinmarker, Ireland. These games usually played at times of local convenience; in the case of games in Japan, it was common for games to start at 5:00 AM local time.

The largest crowd in NFL history was recorded at the American Bowl game at Mexico Citymarker August 15, 1994, when 112,376 people attended the game between the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers.

The American Bowl was a fifth pre-season game, played the same weekend as the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, and did not take away a game from the participating teams' pre-season schedules.

At least one American Bowl game was played annually from 1986-2003. As many as four were played per year in the early 1990s. There were three games in 1998, two in 2000 and since then not more than one per year. There was no American Bowl game played in 2004, and in its last few years all American Bowl games were played in either Mexicomarker or Japanmarker.

The two teams that play in an American Bowl game are selected by the league. This game is always the fifth pre-season game for the teams involved instead of the normal four.

Not considered American Bowl games were several earlier pre-season contests played outside the United Statesmarker. Between 1950 and 1983, there were 13 American football games involving NFL or AFL teams played on foreign soil. Six games between 1950-1961 pitted NFL teams against CFL teams with the NFL team winning all six games. One game was played between the AFL and the CFL (AFL's Buffalo Bills and CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, with Hamilton winning 38-21). All these games were held in Canadamarker. There was also a game in 1960 that pitted the Chicago Bears against the New York Giants played in Canada; this was in return for a 1958 CFL matchup that was played in Philadelphia.[3]

The next five games were of the same format as the American Bowl (without the name) and featured four games between NFL teams and one game between an AFL team and an NFL team (Boston vs. Detroit, 8/25/69). The first two of these games were played in Montrealmarker (1969), then in Tokyomarker (1976), Mexico City (1978), and London (1983) before the term American Bowl was coined.

There have been three international pre-season games during the American Bowl era that did not receive the American Bowl name: two 1988 matches in Montreal and Gothenburgmarker, Swedenmarker and a 1993 match in Toronto. These games were not part of the American Bowl series because they were not arranged by the NFL but, rather, the scheduled home team elected to play there.

The last American Bowl was held in 2005. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell cited the league's new international strategy in the abandonment of international pre-season games as well as the closure of NFL Europe, instead focusing on playing regular season games in foreign countries.

The pre-season game that was scheduled to take place in August 2009 between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks at Beijing National Stadiummarker in Beijing, Chinamarker has been named the China Bowl instead of the American Bowl; that game, too, was eventually canceled before being played.

Post-American Bowl

The first regular season NFL game played outside the United States was held on October 2, 2005 at Estadio Aztecamarker in Mexico City before an NFL regular-season record of 103,467 fans. The Arizona Cardinals defeated the San Francisco 49ers, 31-14. The New York Giants and Miami Dolphins played a regular season game at Wembley Stadiummarker in Londonmarker on October 28, 2007 (with the Giants winning 13-10), the first ever NFL regular season game to be played outside of North America; similarly, the San Diego Chargers and New Orleans Saints followed suit in October 2008. These games are not recorded as American Bowls (as they are played during the regular season and not the pre-season); instead, the name for this series is the International Series. In addition to these games, the Buffalo Bills began playing games (some pre-season. some regular season) in Toronto, Ontariomarker; the Miami Dolphins beat the Bills 16-3 in the first such game, on December 7, 2008.

Game history

Date Winning Team Score Losing Team Score Stadium City
August 3, 1986 Chicago Bears 17 Dallas Cowboys 6 Wembley Stadiummarker Londonmarker
August 9, 1987 Los Angeles Rams 28 Denver Broncos 27 Wembley Stadiummarker Londonmarker
July 31, 1988 Miami Dolphins 27 San Francisco 49ers 21 Wembley Stadiummarker Londonmarker
August 5, 1989 Los Angeles Rams 16 San Francisco 49ers 13 Tokyo Domemarker Tokyomarker
August 6, 1989 Philadelphia Eagles 17 Cleveland Browns 13 Wembley Stadiummarker Londonmarker
August 4, 1990 Denver Broncos 10 Seattle Seahawks 7 Tokyo Domemarker Tokyomarker
August 5, 1990 New Orleans Saints 17 Los Angeles Raiders 10 Wembley Stadiummarker Londonmarker
August 9, 1990 Pittsburgh Steelers 30 New England Patriots 14 Olympic Stadiummarker Montrealmarker
August 11, 1990 Los Angeles Rams 19 Kansas City Chiefs 3 Olympiastadionmarker West Berlin
July 28, 1991 Buffalo Bills 17 Philadelphia Eagles 13 Wembley Stadiummarker Londonmarker
August 3, 1991 San Francisco 49ers 21 Chicago Bears 7 Olympiastadionmarker Berlinmarker
August 3, 1991 Miami Dolphins 19 Los Angeles Raiders 17 Tokyo Domemarker Tokyomarker
August 1, 1992 Houston Oilers 34 Dallas Cowboys 23 Tokyo Domemarker Tokyomarker
August 15, 1992 Miami Dolphins 31 Denver Broncos 27 Olympiastadionmarker Berlinmarker
August 16, 1992 San Francisco 49ers 17 Washington Redskins 15 Wembley Stadiummarker Londonmarker
July 31, 1993 New Orleans Saints 28 Philadelphia Eagles 16 Tokyo Domemarker Tokyomarker
August 1, 1993 San Francisco 49ers 21 Pittsburgh Steelers 14 Estadi Olímpicmarker Barcelonamarker
August 7, 1993 Minnesota Vikings 20 Buffalo Bills 6 Olympiastadionmarker Berlinmarker
August 8, 1993 Dallas Cowboys 13 Detroit Lions 13 Wembley Stadiummarker Londonmarker
July 31, 1994 Los Angeles Raiders 25 Denver Broncos 22 Estadi Olímpicmarker Barcelonamarker
August 6, 1994 Minnesota Vikings 17 Kansas City Chiefs 9 Tokyo Domemarker Tokyomarker
August 13, 1994 New York Giants 28 San Diego Chargers 20 Olympiastadionmarker Berlinmarker
August 15, 1994 Houston Oilers 6 Dallas Cowboys 0 Estadio Aztecamarker Mexico Citymarker
August 5, 1995 Denver Broncos 24 San Francisco 49ers 10 Tokyo Domemarker Tokyomarker
August 12, 1995 Buffalo Bills 9 Dallas Cowboys 7 SkyDomemarker Torontomarker
July 27, 1996 San Diego Chargers 20 Pittsburgh Steelers 10 Tokyo Domemarker Tokyomarker
August 5, 1996 Kansas City Chiefs 32 Dallas Cowboys 6 Estadio Universitariomarker Monterreymarker
July 27, 1997 Pittsburgh Steelers 30 Chicago Bears 17 Croke Parkmarker Dublinmarker
August 4, 1997 Miami Dolphins 38 Denver Broncos 19 Estadio Aztecamarker Mexico Citymarker
August 16, 1997 Green Bay Packers 35 Buffalo Bills 3 SkyDomemarker Torontomarker
August 1, 1998 Green Bay Packers 27 Kansas City Chiefs 24 Tokyo Domemarker Tokyomarker
August 15, 1998 San Francisco 49ers 24 Seattle Seahawks 21 BC Place Stadiummarker Vancouvermarker
August 17, 1998 New England Patriots 21 Dallas Cowboys 3 Estadio Aztecamarker Mexico Citymarker
August 7, 1999 Denver Broncos 20 San Diego Chargers 17 Stadium Australiamarker Sydneymarker
August 5, 2000 Atlanta Falcons 20 Dallas Cowboys 9 Tokyo Domemarker Tokyomarker
August 19, 2000 Indianapolis Colts 24 Pittsburgh Steelers 23 Estadio Aztecamarker Mexico Citymarker
August 27, 2001 Dallas Cowboys 21 Oakland Raiders 6 Estadio Aztecamarker Mexico Citymarker
August 3, 2002 Washington Redskins 38 San Francisco 49ers 7 Osaka Domemarker Osaka
August 2, 2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30 New York Jets 14 Tokyo Domemarker Tokyomarker
August 6, 2005 Atlanta Falcons 27 Indianapolis Colts 21 Tokyo Domemarker Tokyomarker


This list is incomplete
Rank Team W L PCT
1 Denver Broncos 3 4 .428
2 Atlanta Falcons 2 0 1.000
3 Buffalo Bills 2 2 .500
4 Dallas Cowboys 2 7 .222
5 Chicago Bears 1 2 .333
6 Cleveland Browns 0 1 .000


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