|Shocking moments in NFL history|
Page 2 staff
Last week, we presented the most shocking moments in baseball history, so now Page 2 turns its attention to the 10 most shocking moments in the history of the NFL.
After taking a look at our list below, check out our readers' top 10 and then vote in the poll to crown the most stunning NFL moment of them all.
"It's like the president died," said one Bills fan after the legendary Buffalo running back was charged with murdering his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, in the driveway of her house the night of June 12.
He had won the Heisman Trophy, set the NFL's single-season rushing record, and was a Hall of Famer, despite playing most of his pro career with the hapless Bills. He'd been a "Monday Night Football" regular, a popular Hertz pitchman, and a B-movie star. Simpson was, undeniably, incredibly well-liked.
The charges weren't the beginning of the bizarre story, and the criminal trial, which ended with Simpson's acquittal, wasn't the end. After he was officially charged, Simpson didn't surrender and was declared a fugitive, leading to a bizarre, live, televised low-speed pursuit -- in the infamous white Bronco -- that hypnotized the U.S. viewing public.
When Simpson finally surrendered, he was arrested and held without bail. He went on to hire his "dream team" of pricey lawyers, and on Oct. 3, 1995, after the lengthy, circuslike "trial of the century," Simpson was acquitted. Later, in a civil suit filed by the families of Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, Simpson was found to have "willingly and wrongfully" caused the deaths. He was ordered to pay $33.5 million in damages.
Paul Hornung, the Green Bay Packers running back who had scored an NFL record 176 points in 1960 and been named MVP in 1961, and Alex Karras, the Detroit Lions All-Pro defensive tackle, were suspended by Pete Rozelle for betting on NFL games and associating with gamblers. Hornung, said Rozelle, had bet up to $500 on NFL games, and Karras, he said, had placed at least a half dozen $50-$100 bets.
Both players sat out for a full season, before being reinstated. Five other Detroit players were fined for betting on the 1962 championship game. Hornung apologized. "I made a terrible mistake," he said. "I am truly sorry." Still, he was later inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
3. Detroit Lions receiver Chuck Hughes dies of heart attack during game (Oct. 24, 1971)
4. Colts steal away (March 29, 1984)
5. "Heidi" (Nov. 17, 1968)
Three days before the AFL's Jets faced the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in Miami, Namath uttered what might be the most repeated quote in football history. He said, simply, "We're going to win Sunday. I guarantee it." Quite a statement, considering the Jets were 17-point underdogs. But, as the world now knows, Namath and the Jets lived up to his word in style, dominating the Earl Morrall-led Colts from the opening kickoff. Even the insertion of the injured Johnny Unitas into the QB slot couldn't lift Baltimore, and the Colts went down to a 16-7 defeat in front of 75,389 fans at the Orange Bowl. Namath, the game's MVP, was 17-for-28 for 206 yards.
7. The Immaculate Reception (Dec. 23, 1972)
8. Patriots win Super Bowl XXXVI as time expires (Feb. 3, 2002)
Even in the topsy-turvy world of the NFL, those odds seemed low. But New England won the AFC East division title with an 11-5 record, led by soph QB Tom Brady. They won the AFC Championship over Pittsburgh, but still came into the Superdome as two-TD underdogs to the mighty Rams. You know the rest of the story -- with the score tied at 17-17, Brady drove the Pats 53 yards to set up a 48-yard field goal attempt by Adam Vinatieri, who nailed it just before the clock ticked to 0:00.
9. Vikings' Korey Stringer dies from heatstroke (Aug. 1, 2001)
10. The Replacement Football League (Oct. 4, 1987)
Mercifully, the strike ended after 24 days; one of the replacement games was stricken from the record, though the other three counted in the final standings.
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