When Did the NFL Bye Week Start?

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The NFL began incorporating the "bye week" into the schedule during the 1990 season. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue made the move in an effort to generate television revenue from networks airing the games, also expanding the playoff field from 10 competitors to 12.

The four-year deal introduced one "bye week" into the schedule of each of the then-28 NFL teams for the first three seasons. When the final year of the pact, including two open dates for each club, was met with harsh criticism by players, coaches and fans, the league reverted back to the single bye week format for the 1994 season. Bye weeks on the 2014 NFL schedule begin with Week 4 and conclude in Week 12, with anywhere from two to six teams off on a given week.