Quirkiest Football Failures I

Part one of a three-part series.

Heidi 1968
A scene from Heidi (1968), with Jennifer Edwards as Heidi.

Are you ready for some quirky football failures? With NFL training camps underway and the college football season just around the corner, it’s high time for Failure to present its Quirkiest Football Failures.

November 17, 1968: In what is now known as “the Heidi game,” NBC cuts away from the last 1:05 of a New York Jets-Oakland Raiders game to begin showing the movie Heidi on schedule. The Raiders score two touchdowns in the last 42 seconds to win 43-32, angering countless football fans who missed out on the miraculous finish. The NFL later amends its television policies, requiring games to be broadcast in their entirety in the markets of the teams involved.

October 9, 2003: Jacksonville Jaguars punter Chris Hanson gashes his right leg with an ax while chopping wood in the team’s locker room. The wood and the ax had been placed in the room at the behest of head coach Jack Del Rio, who was using the mantra “keep chopping wood” to inspire his players after a 0-3 start. Hanson’s injury requires emergency surgery and ends his season. It’s not the only time Hanson suffered a freak injury. In June of 2002, Hanson, his wife, and former Jaguars placekicker Jaret Holmes were severely burned at Hanson’s house when a fondue pot overturned.

February 9, 2009: On this first day of the NFL calendar year, Detroit newspaper reporter Mike O’Hara observes that Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams is on the cover of the Detroit Lions’ 2009 official calendar. The Lions traded Williams to Dallas four months earlier, and the underachieving wideout had been on the trading block for close to two years.

August 26, 2008: The Kansas City Chiefs release veteran placekicker Jay Feely just a day after signing him to a one-year contract.

April 27, 1982: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers accidentally select Sean Farrell (Penn State) with their first round pick in the NFL draft after the team’s representative turns in the wrong card. To select their intended target, Booker Reese, a defensive end out of Bethune-Cookman, the Bucs acquire an early second-round pick from the Chicago Bears in exchange for their first-round pick in 1983. Ironically, Tampa Bay’s “mistake” selection goes on to have a solid, albeit unspectacular NFL career, while Reese turns out to be a bust.

February 1, 2004: Justin Timberlake snatches off part of Janet Jackson’s black leather bustier at the conclusion of their duet performance during the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show, revealing a breast clad only in a “nipple shield” to 90 million television viewers. Timberlake blames a “wardrobe malfunction,” but the Federal Communications Commission opens an investigation into whether the show violated decency laws.

August 12, 2006: T-Rac, the mascot for the Tennessee Titans, hits New Orleans Saints fourth-string quarterback Adrian McPherson with a golf cart as McPherson walks onto the field for the second half of an exhibition contest between the two teams. McPherson leaves the field with a “bruise” and does not play in the game. Later, McPherson files a lawsuit against the Titans seeking $5 million in compensatory damages and $15 million in punitive damages.

December 19, 1999: Orlando Brown, a 6-7, 350-pound offensive lineman for the Cleveland Browns suffers damage to his right eye when hit in the face with a penalty flag (weighted with popcorn kernels) thrown by referee Jeff Triplette. Brown’s vision in the eye eventually improves from legally blind to 20/25, and he is able to resume his NFL career after missing three seasons. The injury prompts the league to require all flags to be weighted with sand.

December 21, 2008: During a press conference following a game between the Detroit Lions and New Orleans Saints (won by the Saints, 42-7), Detroit News sports columnist Rob Parker asks Lions head coach Rod Marinelli if he wishes his daughter had married a better defensive coordinator, referring to the fact that Marinelli’s defensive coordinator, Joe Barry, is also his son-in-law. Parker is widely criticized for his query and resigns from his position at the newspaper two weeks later. Meanwhile, both Marinelli and his son-in-law are fired following the conclusion of the Lions’ 0-16 campaign, the first 16-game winless season in NFL history.

November 23, 1997: After scoring on a one-yard run late in the first half of a game against the New York Giants, Washington Redskins quarterback Gus Frerotte celebrates by head-butting a padded wall adjacent to the end zone. Frerotte suffers a sprained neck and is removed from the game.

Part two of Quirkiest Football Failures
Part three of Quirkiest Football Failures