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Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Updated: July 31, 1:23 PM ET
Readers: Shocking football moments

From the Page 2 mailbag

Earlier this week, Page 2 listed its choices for the 10 most shocking moments in football history, but as usual, we wanted your take.

We received more than 620 e-mails, and here is how Page 2 readers ranked the NFL's biggest shockers. Be sure to vote in the poll at right to crown the most shocking moment of them all.

1. LT breaks Joe Theismann's leg (88 letters)
Joe Theismann
Joe Theismann's leg injury is burned into the minds of millions of fans.
The first moment that came to my mind was Lawrence Taylor breaking Joe Theismann's leg. It was on "Monday Night Football" and they kept replaying it and replaying it. The sight was ungodly, and while there are other moments that might shock a person, this one shocked the nation in prime time.
Kevin Winter
Everett, Wash.


Undoubtedly, the night Joe Theismann had his lower leg snapped like a stale chopstick by LT in 1985. Not necessarily because it was as grotesque a sight as anyone has seen on live TV, but because it happened in front of about 70 bah-jillion people during "Monday Night Football." Moreover, if you didn't see it, you could damn well bet at least five people told you about it the next day. I saw it, and still can't shake that image of LT rolling down on Joe's leg, the sudden snap, LT jumping up holding his helmet with both hands looking horrified at poor Joe on the ground and frantically waving in the trainers to come fix what he'd broken.
Derrick Ingram
Lexington, Ky.


Joe T's leg snap ... Can we see it seven more times please, ABC?
Colvin
Annapolis, Md.


2. O.J. charged with double murder (80 letters)
The O.J. fiasco is the most shocking moment in all of sports. For a world-renowned star to be implicated in such a hidious crime was a shock, not only to the sporting world but to the entire society. The months that followed, through the arrest and trial, proved to be a sideshow. It is a real black mark upon sports, and absolutely the most shocking.
Arty Gullotti
Ft. Wayne, Ind.


O.J. Simpson
O.J. Simpson's jury ruled to acquit after the glove didn't fit.
I'll never forget that photo of him standing handcuffed, looking like a little kid in a heap of trouble, just a couple of days before "the chase." Nobody wanted to believe it.
Brian Morrissey
Chicago


Forget O.J. being accused -- the most shocking event was his being acquitted.
Kory Oberpriller
Austin, Texas


Before 9/11, I had never seen any event get so much news coverage. There was a nationwide consensus of shock as we watched the white Bronco go down the 405. There were even people cheering him on from the freeway overpasses. It shows how sports (and the glamour of professional athletes) can blind a person, and make him cheer a man who had been suspected of killing two people in cold blood while he is being chased by the authorities. Since this incident, it seems athletes' private lives have become as much a tabloid issue as sports page content. Shocking.
David Guerreva
Torrance, Calif.


Nothing in the NFL was ever so poetic as to watch O.J. glide across the field ... what a shock, to uncover the core of the man who hid for so long behind the mask of celebrity. When he was first arrested, I remember seeing people holding signs that read, "Innocent or guilty, we still love you." The trial was run under the same principle, making his athletic prowess larger than life -- or death. This is so wrong, and so shocking.
Barry Parker
Riverside, Calif.


3. Modell moves Browns to Baltimore (71 letters)
Art "Satan" Modell stole one of football's most storied franchises from sports' most die-hard fans. Irsay and the Colts? Please! Their fans' efforts to reclaim the team resulted in a bunch of thugs wearing purple uniforms borrowed from rent-a-cops.
Bill M.
Woodland Park, Colo.


Art Modell
Art Modell's decision to move his team to Baltimore will always irk Cleveland fans.
Art Modell's move of the Browns was far worse than Bob Irsay's move of the Colts. At least with Irsay's move there was some warning ... He had been threatening to move for some time, which helped kill off Baltimore's attendance. With Modell there was no warning whatsoever.

Without asking, Modell was offered a new stadium a few years earlier but turned it down. Modell then requested help in renovating Cleveland Stadium. He and the city of Cleveland proceeded to negotiate over those revovations -- Modell was unquestionably going to receive these renovations. Modell unilaterally broke off and refused to discuss the deal further until after the 1995 season.

It was during this "moratorium" that Modell approached Baltimore and negotiated the move. He then claimed he "had no choice" but to move because Cleveland wasn't going to give him a new stadium. No warning. Not a word. Nothing. Not even a hint that the future of the Browns in Cleveland was in doubt.

With neither warning nor justification, they departed in the still of the night. Modell stole the team we Browns' fans paid for with 40 years of sold-out stadiums ... and he has the unmitigated gall to blame us for it! I don't know if there is a circle in Hell loathesome enough for this brainless waste of a human life (or the despicable excuse for a team president he calls his stepson) to rot in for all eternity.
Jeff Cox
Indianapolis


The day Art Modell announced he was moving our beloved Browns to Baltimore was the darkest, most shocking day in football history. "The Drive," "the Fumble," and all the heartache of not making a Super Bowl paled in light of this greedy, despicable, outrageous deed. Even with the rebirth of the Browns, the hatred for this vile man, and the shock of that dark day, has not dissapated in northeast Ohio.
Jerry Albert
Cortland, Ohio


4. Bills battle back from a 35-3 deficit (62 letters)
I was at the Buffalo Bills comeback game when Frank Reich rallied them from a 35-3 deficit against Houston. It was like watching a movie. A mess of fans left at halftime, only to be climbing the fences trying to get back in when the comback started. Truly an amazing game.
Bo
Niagara Falls, N.Y.


I also must vote for the Buffalo Bills' come-from-behind victory against the Oilers. Reich stepped in to lead the improbable second-half-comback in the sleet and snow of Orchard Park, including Don Beebe's tightrope walking touchdown down the sideline to spark the comeback. The Bills' determination to win that game never faltered, including blocking the field goal in the dying moments that could have won the game for the Oilers. Reich will forever be one of the greatest comeback quarterbacks in NFL history.
Jim B.
Oakville, Conn.


5. Barry Sanders announces retirement (60 letters)
Barry Sanders
Barry Sanders' retirement -- and his decision to stay retired -- shocked NFL fans.
Barry Sanders retiring sans money. Everyone was waiting for the comeback, but it never materialized. Barry and the Lions stood their respective ground and the NFL ultimately suffered for it. Being a Packers fan, I frequently got to watch the greatest running back tear up the field against my team, and now I don't regret it. I only regret not seeing the best prove it in the record books.
Bill
Milwaukee


A guy with so much talent, so much class, and in the absolute prime of his career suddenly decides to hang 'em up, leaving the NFL without perhaps its most exciting player of all-time. Walter might have the record (for now anyway), Emmitt might have the rings, but the fans all know that no one could touch Mr. Sanders' awesome elusiveness and feel for the game ...
Greg Wondra
Mayville, Wis.


One of the most shocking moments in recent history would have to be the retirement of Barry Sanders. I've never seen a single report suggesting he was hurt ... only disgruntled. Makes me wonder how many other professional athletes would stand so firmly on principle.
Ron Bodesheimer
Hudson, Wis.


6. Patriots win Super Bowl as time expires (56 letters)
There's no doubt that the Patriots winning the Super Bowl was the most shocking moment in NFL history. They shouldn't even have been there. I'm not a big Raiders fan, but they got screwed. I mean, it was like The Sports Guy was the official on that replay. I wouldn't be surprised if the Patriots owner came out a few years from now and said that the game was fixed. How do you explain the fact that Marshall Faulk, the best player in the NFL, only carried the ball about eight times?? That's like having Joe Montana sit out in a playoff game so you can give the backup a chance to play. It's just something that's not supposed to happen.

I realize Kurt Warner is one of the best in the game now, but you think they'd get the idea to give the ball to Faulk after a few incomplete passes. And he had plenty of them. After that being said, I will always believe that the Patriots winning the Super Bowl is the most shocking moment in all of sports history, not just NFL history.
Kyle Petty
Blue Ridge, Ga


"The Patriots are Super Bowl Champions, The Patriots are Super Bowl Champions!!!" said Gil Santos, voice of the New England Patriots. As the Pats stormed Adam Vinatieri, cut to one of the Rams players kneeling on the sidelines, only one word came from his mouth, "Damn." St. Louis fans left New Orleans in stunned disbelief. Call me sick, but looking at those shocked and stunned faces made me a very happy man.
Matt Tierney
Boston


7. Titans beat Bills with Music City Miracle (53 letters)
Three words: Music City Miracle! Seventeen seconds left on the clock ... down by one ... the Tennessee Titans take a Buffalo kickoff 75 yards down the left sideline for the win and a place among the NFL's most shocking moments, forever. Ask any Bills fan -- they'll tell you 'shock' is a gross understatement.
Jon Born
Atlanta


I was watching the game in Caesars' Palace, Bills fans were already taking off their shirts and gloating, "At last, justice has prevailed!" They were practically on line to cash their winning tickets while Titan fans were busy accepting the loss. Not so. The length the officials reviewed that lateral just added to the tension. So tough to tell if it was forward or not, even after they ran the replay 100 different times from every angle except a blimp shot. Definitely a shocker.
David Kimmel
Irvine, Calif.


8. Irsay hands the Colts over to Indianapolis (31 letters)
To my friends in Cleveland:
At least Art Modell had the guts to state publicly that he was going to move the Browns. I gotta admit that Cleveland's PR machine was much better run than Baltimore's in 1984. Does no one else remember Baltimore Colts owner Robert Irsay's tirade at BWI Airport when he blathered, "If I were going to move the (expletive) team, I'd have said so"? ... At the time, he was coming back from yet another round of shopping the Colts.

Irsay set the standard for destroying a professional sports franchise not through being strapped for cash, but through complete incompetence and meddling. And no Baltimorean will forget where he was when he heard that the coward Irsay took the Colts to Indianapolis under the cover of darkness (I was in my car driving to college). But the final slap was the reaction of the rest of the country, one Cleveland never got in 1995 ... "Baltimore deserved it." Like hell.
Paul Turner
Glen Burnie, Md.


Judas Irsay steals the Colts from Baltimore.
Eric Roe
Saint Paul, Minn.


Franco Harris
Franco Harris came out of nowhere to make the "Immaculate Reception."
9. The Immaculate Reception (28 letters)
Probably the most "unbelievable" play that has ever happened, in any sport. For it to have a biblical nickname ... it's got to be miraculous. Franco never has to pay for a drink in Pittsburgh.
Dave T
Newark, N.J.


10. Giants' "Miracle in the Meadowlands" vs. Eagles (22 letters)
Giants up by five. All Joe Pisarcik has to do is kneel down ... sit on the ball and the game is over. Nope. Ball is fumbled. Eagles run it back. Ballgame. Easily the second most magical highlight of being a Philly sports fan (just behind the '80 Phils and just ahead of Randall Cunningham's one-handed pushup TD throw). Ahhh. Thanks for making me think of a good Eagles moment for a change.
Marc Sedam
Chapel Hill


Also receiving votes
  • Steelers/Lions Thanksgiving Day coin flip fiasco
  • "Heidi" interrupts Raiders rally to victory
  • Howard Cosell announces John Lennon's death during Monday Night Football
  • Scott Norwood's wide-right miss secures a 20-19 victory for the Giants over Bills