Are you ready for some (more) quirky football failures? Following is part two of Failure’s three-part Quirkiest Football Failures series.
August 30, 2008: The Idaho Vandals lose their season-opening football game to the Arizona Wildcats 70-0, while also suffering the indignity of competing while wearing uniform pants that feature a prominent “I” (University of Idaho) logo with “Vandals” in script across the players’ buttocks. “We didn’t realize how noticeable it [the logo] would be until it was on our players,” says Idaho athletic director Rob Spear, citing a “miscommunication” between the school and Nike over the design of the uniforms. Weeks later, the Vandals’ cheerleading squad is pressured into redesigning its uniforms after the university receives complaints that the girls’ recently-debuted two-piece outfits are too skimpy.
August 13, 2001: A preseason game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens is cancelled 35 minutes after its scheduled start because of ruts, bumps, dips and divots in the newly-installed NexTurf field at Veterans Stadium. To make matters worse, the venue’s jam-packed press elevator breaks down, stranding 18 members of the media for 40 minutes.
January 31, 1993: The Dallas Cowboys defeat the Buffalo Bills 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII. The Bills commit a record nine turnovers en route to the team’s third consecutive Super Bowl defeat. The most memorable play occurs in the fourth quarter when Dallas defensive tackle Leon Lett picks up a Frank Reich fumble at the Dallas 35-yard line and begins rumbling toward the Buffalo end zone, poised to score his first touchdown “since [he] was 10 years old playing pee-wee football.” But Lett is unable to resist the temptation to showboat, and as he approaches the goal line he slows a bit while holding the football out to one side. This allows Bills wide receiver Don Beebe to catch up and swat the ball out of his hand at the 1-yard line. The ball rolls through the end zone for a touchback, spoiling Lett’s chance at Super Bowl glory.
August 8, 2005: Due to a bug in the highly-realistic Madden NFL ’06 video game, New York Jets offensive lineman Michael King (6’6’‘, 298 pounds) is rendered a Lilliputian seven inches tall. “You can barely see him on the field,” says Madden producer, Phil Frazier. “He’s a tiny little guy.”
January 1, 1929: Roy “Wrong Way” Riegels, center for the California Golden Bears, picks up a fumble in the 1929 Rose Bowl against the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets and runs 70 yards back towards his own end zone, eventually getting tackled at his own 1-yard-line. California’s next play results in a safety, crucial points the Yellowjackets need to eke out an 8-7 win.
October 12, 2008: Detroit Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky, making his first NFL start, accidentally runs out of the back of his own end zone during a first quarter pass play, giving the Minnesota Vikings a 2-0 lead. “When they started blowing the whistle, I was like, ‘Did we false start or were they offsides or something?’” says Orlovsky after the game. “And I looked [down], and I was just like, ‘You’re an idiot.’” The safety proves to be the margin of defeat for the Lions, who lose the game 12-10 and fall to 0-5 on the season, the eighth time in 75 years that the organization starts a season 0-5.
September 26, 1998: The Prairie View A&M University football team defeats Langston University 14-12, ending a streak of 80 consecutive losses. The nine-year streak is low-lighted by the 1990 season (when Prairie View fails to field a team), and the 1991 season (during which the Panthers score a mere 48 points, while allowing an average of 56 points per game).
November 16, 2008: Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb throws three interceptions and loses a fumble during an ugly 13-13 tie against the hapless Cincinnati Bengals (1-8-1). Then, during a postgame press conference, McNabb admits he didn’t know that a regular season NFL game could end in a tie, saying, “When the [Hail Mary] was called [on the last play of overtime], I kind of figured, ‘I guess there’s ties in the NFL.’” McNabb goes on to compound his error by indicating that he doesn’t know the postseason overtime rule, which states that playoff games cannot end in a tie: “I hate to see what happens in the Super Bowl…. You have to settle with a tie,” offers the uninformed veteran.
January 30, 1968: The Dallas Cowboys draft 6-4 wide receiver David McDaniels in the second round, due in large part to his 4.40 40-yard dash time, recorded on a track at Mississippi Valley State University. At training camp, McDaniels looks slow compared to the defensive backs and is re-timed at 4.73 seconds, at which point the team finds out that the college track is short by a yard-and-a-half. Later, the Cowboys save face by trading McDaniels to the Chicago Bears—a team that also timed him at 4.40—for a second round pick. To this day, all NFL scouts measure to make sure the course in question is exactly 40 yards.
January 4, 2004: Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck announces, “We want the ball, and we’re going to score,” immediately after the Seahawks win the overtime coin toss during a wildcard playoff game versus the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The comment is picked up by the referee’s microphone and is heard by both television viewers and the hostile crowd inside the stadium. Ultimately, a Hasselbeck pass does lead to the winning score—for the other team—as the overconfident QB throws throws an interception that Packers’ cornerback Al Harris returns for a touchdown, giving Green Bay a 33-27 win.