Since the merge of NFL and AFL on June 8, 1966, there are many unforgettable moments that are forever transcribed in the memories of football fanatics.
Who can forget Franco Harris and “The Immaculate Reception” in the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoffs, Joe Namath’s “Guarantee” in Super Bowl III and Dwight Clark with “The Catch” from Joe Montana in the 1982 NFC Championship Game? Undoubtedly, these moments show how great the game is and the players that made these events memorable.
On the contrary though, there are lots of moments in the NFL history that made fans cringe of dismay and frustration. There are lots of moments where you had to scratch your head in utter disbelief and horror or be terribly depressed due to sad circumstances. Below are some of the worst memorable moments in NFL.
Chuck Hughes Died on the Field
Chuck Hughes is the only player that faced his demise while on the field playing. October 24, 1971 is a sad date for the family, friends, colleagues and fans of Hughes.
Hughes was a 4th round pick in 1967 out of Texas Western College (now UTEP) where he still holds several school records, including most receptions in a game (17), most all-purpose yards in a single game (401), highest yards per reception in a single game, 34.9, which is also an NCAA record and most all-purpose yards per game for a season (204).
In 1971, The Lions were hosting the Chicago Bears at old Tiger Stadium in Detroit. Hughes was jogging back to the huddle in the final minutes of the game when he suddenly collapsed at the Bears 15 yard line. Some spectators were thinking that he was just faking an injury to stop the clock with his team down 28-23. Everyone realized what’s going on when legendary Bears linebacker Dick Butkus started to frantically calling for help.
Unknown to many, Hughes was suffering from advanced arteriosclerosis, and his coronary arteries were 75% blocked. The news of his death at the stadium was cascaded to his team.
He was buried in San Antonio and his player number 85 was retired by the Lions. The team’s Most Improved Player award is named in his honor and he was inducted in to the UTEP Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006.
Joe Theismann Broke his Leg
This incident has been named as “The Hit That No One Who Saw It Can Ever Forget” by The Washington Post and has been voted as the NFL’s “Most Shocking Moment in History”
This gruesome injury took place on November 18, 1985 in RFK Stadium, Washington D.C. Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor was charging like a bull and it is quiet unfortunate that Joe Theismann’s career was over after “two pops”.
While Taylor was taking down Theismann, his knee went straight into Theismann’s lower right leg which resulted in the fracture of both the fibula and the tibia. Theismann’s leg from the middle of his lower leg down was flat on the ground, while the rest of his leg was at a 45 degree angle. Taylor began to scream wildly and asked for help when he saw Theismann’s injury up close. The injury was completely captured on film.
During an interview with the New York Times in 2005, Theismann described the injury, saying “The pain was unbelievable, it snapped like a breadstick. It sounded like two muzzled gunshots off my left shoulder. Pow, pow! It was at that point, I also found out what a magnificent machine the human body is. Almost immediately, from the knee down, all the feeling was gone in my right leg. The endorphins had kicked in, and I was not in pain.”
The injury caused Theismann’s career to end at a young age of 36. His bone was not able to properly grow while healing causing his right leg to be shorter than his left.
Get to know more about Joe Theismann here.
NFL Referee Lockout
Many would never forget the NFL 2012 season because of replacement officials that were hired to officiate the game. This clearly showed how the league vulgarly displayed its power and unwillingness to spend money. It was obvious during the preseason that the replacement officials were not prepared yet the league has pushed through with them into the regular season.
September 24, 2012. Monday Night Football. National Spotlight.
With 8 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter, the Seattle Seahawks were trailing the Green Bay Packers 12-7 at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks had a 4th and 10 from the Packers 24.Russell Wilson, a Seattle quarterback, tossed a Hail Mary to the back of the end zone, searching for Golden Tate. What occurred next was the most repulsive show of officiating incompetence NFL fans had ever observed.
There were two different rulings made by two different officials who were both standing right on top of the play. The back judge signaled time out, seeking replay assistance while the side judge ruled touchdown. Therefore, the play on the field was authoritatively concluded a touchdown, with Tate and Packers guarded back M.D. Jennings keeping up simultaneous possession. Both overlooked the conspicuous push off by Tate that was clear offensive pass interference.
During the review, Referee Wayne Elliott made a conclusion that the replay was not enough to have the call overturned, let the incorrect call stand and allowed the Seahawks to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden did not hide his repulse during the broadcast, saying, “Golden Tate gets away with one of the most blatant offensive pass interference calls I’ve ever seen. M.D. Jennings intercepts the pass. And Tate’s walking out of here as the player of the game. Unbelievable.”
Warren Moon, a former Houston Oilers quarterback and current Seattle Seahawks broadcaster made his own speculation, saying, “This could be the game that gets a deal done. Something like this, on the league’s biggest stage, on Monday night, it’s just not good for the game. You could argue the officials had a hand in the outcome, that they cost Green Bay the game or would have cost the Seahawks.”
Turns out Moon’s words were prophetic, as the league came to an agreement with the NFL Referees Association on September 26.
If you are interested in the NCAA tournament announcers, click here.