This Day in Failure, 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.
1976: An arsonist sets a wardrobe closet ablaze at the Wincrest Nursing Home in Chicago, Illinois. Although the building itself sustains minor fire and water damage, 23 people die from smoke inhalation.
1962: Two members of the Flying Wallendas high wire act are killed and one is paralyzed from the waist down when the group’s seven-person pyramid collapses during a performance at the State Fair Coliseum in Detroit, Michigan.
1835: Andrew Jackson survives the first assassination attempt of a U.S. president when Richard Lawrence fires two pistols at Jackson inside the House chamber of the Capitol building. Both guns misfire and Lawrence is quickly subdued and arrested.