ESPN.com

ESPN.com's Page 2 writers provide their memories of the 100 moments ...

71Dan Jansen finally wins Olympic gold
Boy, did I want Dan Jansen to win. As only the Olympics can do, we cared about a sport none of us had ever tried, about an athlete who popped onto our TV screens only once every two or four years. We knew his story, his tragic falls and slips and failures. Boy, didn't we all want him to win?

After he slipped again in the 500 meters -- his best event -- we knew it was over. He wasn't even a favorite to medal in the 1,000. Maybe he could squeeze out a bronze? How? His frame of mind had to be Jello by now.

Yet he did win, setting a world record. to get the gold. And you know how I felt? Let's put it this way: when we root for a team, we're being a little bit selfish; we want our team to win because we'll feel good if they do. But when I rooted for Dan Jansen, I was rooting for him to feel good.

I think he did.
--David Schoenfield

72Decker tripped up in '84 Olympics
In Hollywood, just around the corner from the L.A. Coliseum, Mary Decker, of course, would have gotten up from her spill, run down the pack of runners and then sprinted past Zola Budd in the final 15 meters to win her long-coveted gold medal. But this wasn't Hollywood.

I remember watching the race -- perhaps the most anticipated women's race in Olympic history; certainly the most anticipated distance race -- and for some reason I expected Decker to lose. After all, it was set up too easily for her: after missing the '76 Olympics with injury and the '80 Olympics due to boycott, this was her year to win gold, especially with her toughest competition from the Eastern Bloc countries out with their own boycott. But I had a feeling it wouldn't be quite so easy.

There was a wild card -- Zola Budd, the teenage, barefoot phenom from South Africa, a character created seemingly by, well -- Hollywood. Was she really as fast as they said? Would she really run without shoes? The political intrigue of her being allowed to run for Great Britain only heightened the drama. For some reason, I expected this barefoot wunderkind to pull off the upset.

Maybe that would have been a better ending. Because the way the race ended -- the memory of Decker getting clipped by Budd's foot, falling to the grass alongside the track, screaming in pain with tears running down her cheeks -- isn't an ending at all. After all, we don't even know who won the race, and isn't that how it's supposed to end?
--David Schoenfield

73Michael Johnson wins Olympic 200 in astonishing world record
It was the shoes. Of course it was the shoes. It's not that Michael Johnson's wildly telegenic golden Nike spikes were the reason that he crushed the world record in the 200 at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

It's that he was bold enough to wear them. Golden spikes, like the kind you'd expect one of the Greek gods to be sporting (if Greek gods were the type to do Nike endorsements ... ) This is the mythic Olympic equivalent of Babe Ruth calling his shot, of Joe Namath making a guarantee in Super Bowl III.

You can't put on the golden spikes and then not go out and do something spectacular. Win a gold medal? Sorry: not good enough. There better be some serious record-breaking going on. And that's exactly what he went out and did, which made it all the more spectacular.

It's one thing to break a world record at the Olympics; it's another level of athletic achievement altogether to wear your intentions on your feet, then come through.
--Dan Shanoff

74Van de Velde collapses at 1998 British Open
Schadenfreude. It's a wonderful big German word that has no direct English translation, and if you don't know it and use it regularly, you should. It means, roughly, taking pleasure in the misfortune of others. We all experience this feeling. And it's great to have one word to sum it up.

Here's the kicker: schadenfreude's pure. The pleasure doesn't come from a zero-sum game in which the other fellow's loss is your gain -- it's just a good feeling at seeing someone else fail. Often, it's someone we know: a friend, a colleague, or most deliciously, a rival. Often, it's someone famous, playing on a big stage.

I experienced schadenfreude at seeing Jean Van de Velde's epic failure. I wasn't rooting against the fellow. I would have liked to see him win, because he was a huge underdog. But still. Such a massive screw up.

Mixed in with that schadenfreude is a touch of jealousy, though. The fact of the matter is I (and you, too) am unlikely to ever even get a chance to muck things up in such a grand fashion. Part of that's just luck and talent. Only so many get such opportunities in any age. But part of it's a sign of our times: people are so much more cautious these days than they used to be. Safety is a huge concern. The remnants of political correctness damper even what we say. And then there's the dominant culture of fear. We don't fail big because we don't try big, not nearly as much as we used to.

In the years since Van de Velde has been a true mensch (another word you should add to your lexicon) about the whole deal. He expresses no shame. He doesn't run from discussing it. It was what it was, and his life goes on. Van de Velde has, in his own way, achieved greatness through failure.
--Jeff Merron

75LT shatters Theismann's leg with gruesome tackle
Football costs bodies. Even Joe Theismann, who seemed almost indestructible, could be crushed. The memory, of course, is of the great QB being taken down by LT, the great LB. But that's not quite how it happened: without Harry Carson and Gary Reasons, two other Giants linebackers, Theismann's twisted blow might never have been a career-ender.

The other memory is of what I've read, but not seen or heard: that the bloody bone was sticking out, completely exposed. And that MNF announcer Frank Gifford said, "I have a feeling Lawrence Taylor heard the snap of the bone."

That's a terrific little piece of speculation. Chilling and gruesome but family-friendly. I get goosebumps. Horrifying, yet still so much a part of the game.
--Jeff Merron

76Winslow helped off the field after epic effort
Is it possible to give 110 percent? If any athlete has ever actually done this, it was Kellen Winslow in the Orange Bowl in perhaps the greatest NFL game ever played.

The game itself was legendary; I remember watching it in my basement as 12-year-old. When the Chargers went up 24-0, I ran out into my backyard and kicked around a football; when I came back it was 24-17, the Dolphins were back in it and the game was headed to epic status.

Humans can run only so fast and jump only so far, but we are capable of pushing ourselves to extreme limits. Winslow's effort -- fighting through fatigue, cramps, exhaustion and other assorted aches and pains -- supports this, driving himself beyond the point when your brain and body flash those signals that it's time to stop. This can be dangerous -- Winslow dropped 13 pounds that game. And the Chargers, after winning the game in overtime, paid the price in a different way: they had nothing left for the AFC Championship Game the next week and lost 27-7 to Cincinnati.
--David Schoenfield

77Louganis gashes head, comes back to win gold
I find it impossible to separate that 1988 moment in Seoul -- Greg Louganis hitting his head, then coming back to win gold in the springboard and another gold in the platform -- from the 1994-1995 post-career montage of him coming out as a homosexual and then going public with the news he had AIDS.

There was (and still is) so much speculation about how -- and how easily -- the HIV virus can be spread, and it's impossible to think back to the sutured Louganis in the Seoul pool without thinking of the possibility that.

But that's not what it was really all about for me. What it was about was watching a minor sport turned into a major one because of one brilliant athlete. It doesn't happen that often, but when it does, it serves as a great reminder of how extraordinarily difficult most sports are, even those played out far from the media glare.
--Jeff Merron

78Canadian figure skating pair robbed of gold medal
Excuse me, I'm getting all verklumpt.

After a week of controversy, worldwide headlines, litigation, news conferences, outrage and debate, the great pairs figure skating drama concluded in a powerful, emotional ceremony when Canadian skaters Jamie Salé and David Pelletier received the most coveted and revered of all Olympic awards: the little blue Roots beret.

Ha! Just kidding. Everyone knows that not even International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge can get his hands on those berets. The line was two hours long at the Roots store in Parks City this weekend and even longer at the Salt Lake stores. Waiting in line is expected to gain full-medal status in 2006, with the Russian women favored for the gold.

No, Sale and Pelletier received their long desired gold medals, granted to them when the International Skating Union admitted that the judge from France, or maybe Cook County, was guilty of misconduct. The ISU president, the impossibly named Ottavio Cinquanta, awarded the medals to Sale and Pelletier in a special ceremony at the end of original ice dance competition Sunday just before NBC signed off for the night.

Rogge said the IOC did not consult with NBC in scheduling the ceremony for prime time, and I don't doubt him. They didn't have to. They knew without asking what they were supposed to do. NBC paid billions for broadcast rights and wasn't about to let this precious moment be held on a weekday morning opposite the Price is Right.
--Jim Caple (Feb. 17, 2002)

79Michael Jordan's flu game
The indelible image of Michael Jordan's magnificent "flu" game in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals -- which many argue was his finest ever -- wasn't any particular basket in his 38-point outburst, not even his game-winner to crush the soul of the Jazz.

The lasting image is his ultimate portrait of exhaustion, of the old cliche "leaving it all on the floor" suddenly captured by the greatest player in NBA history -- the new standard for any player who thinks they've tried their hardest.

Slumped over, his 6-6 "Perfect Athlete" frame looking as beaten as that old guy at the Y after a three-hour Sunday-morning run, arms literally wrapped around teammate Scottie Pippen, who nearly had to carry Jordan off the court.

Most players can't score 38 on their best night; that Jordan scored 38 on one of his worst is the ultimate testament to his all-time greatness.
--Dan Shanoff

80Emmitt Smith breaks Payton's career rushing record
Single-game records are unexpected flashes of brilliance. Single-season records often might be the lonely highlight of otherwise unspectacular careers. But setting an all-time career record is truly momentous.

The irony is that breaking an all-time career record takes so long that the player doing the record-setting is usually at the tail-end of that brilliant career; the record becomes a celebration of lifetime achievement.

Such was the case with Emmitt Smith, whose pursuit of Walter Payton's career NFL rushing yards total was built on 12 spectacular years, then into 2002, where every game brought him -- and fans -- one step closer to this huge milestone. He ended with 973 yards that season, but none more important than career yard 16,727, which broke Payton's record.
--Dan Shanoff








The ESPN Take: 81-90

The ESPN Take: 91-100

71: Dan Jansen finally wins a gold medal

72: Decker's gold medal dreams tripped up at '84 Olympics

73: Johnson blazes to record, gold medal in 200 meters

74: Van de Velde triple-bogeys on the 18th hole

75: Theismann's career ends with gruesome injury

76: Winslow helped off field after Chargers' OT win

77: Louganis gashes head on board, wins gold

78: Canadian figure skating pair robbed of gold

79: Jordan battles flu, makes Jazz sick

80: Emmitt Smith breaks Payton's rushing record