A Handful of my favorite moments in NFL History as League approaches 100 years10 min read
These moments are in no planned order. They are all big moments to me, except for the first one, which I do rank first because I was there and it had such an impact on me. I’m only going to list a handful of moments because I’m including a good bit of explanations, facts, setup and summary recaps of some games on each one. I’m not listing the Bucs Super Bowl run, and win, that’s too obvious, we all know about that special time in Bucs History.
1979 NFC Title Game, Rams vs Buccaneers, Tampa Stadium
I was 14 years old, and my Best Friend Buddy Phillips called and said his dad who co-owned a Ford Dealership in Lake Wales, had some sweet tickets to the game on the 50-yard line that he got from Ford, did I want to go? I about swallowed my tongue trying to scream “YES”, I wanted to go. From that moment on until game day, I was on cloud 9. My friends and I were all very big into playing football and watching the NFL, and College ball. All school was to me back then was getting together at lunch/common free times and making up teams to play after school, and talking crap about the others favorite NFL team.(we also played touch ball before the morning bell and before the recall bell after lunch with one of those miniature footballs they threw out at the high school games). Even when I started playing high school JV football, my neighbors and my brother and I would play in the street after I got home from practice until the street light came on.
They were some of the greatest days of my life, and it all revolved around Football. In my early years as a fan (before the Bucs existed) I was a freaking maniac fan of the Minnesota Vikings. At 8-9 years old I knew every starter on both sides of the ball by name and number, and what college they played at before the NFL. Of course, the Bucs lost the game, and it upset me quite a bit. That day, though without me even knowing it, a seed was planted that matured into me dropping the purple and yellow, and coming over to the creamsicle of the Home team Bucs. So for me, that game was a major moment in my life. It helped shape the writer I am today and my allegiance to the Bucs. I had been to games in Tampa before that day, but they were to see the Vikings play the Bucs. Also, too many after that day, as a Big time Bucs fan as I am to this very day, It changed me, as big-time events in life sometimes do. The crazy thing about it is, the Vikings still hunt for their first Lombardi trophy after making it to 4 Super Bowls, and the Bucs already are seeking their second ring, in as many games, Go Figure, Go Bucs!!
Quotes from First Bucs Skipper John Mckay, memorable for sure
McKay was never wanton of something quippy to say, he was always locked, and loaded. Ready to offer his personal take on things. If you lived here back then you appreciated his lighter-hearted take on things in the face of what seemed like terminal, unending losses. Following are some of the many quotes McKay has said that I thought were the cream of the crop. The first is my favorite. All quotes per ESPN.com/Classic
Asked by a reporter after another bad Bucs loss, What he thought about the Bucs execution? John replied, “I’m all for it!”
“Hold when you’re at home and don’t hold when you’re on the road.” — on his blocking strategy
“If you have everyone back from a team that lost 10 games, experience isn’t too important.” — on the significance of experience
“We were in four playoff games. Even though most of the people here in their 20s probably wouldn’t believe it or know anything about it, the Bucs were on top of the world once. I’m glad I could hang around long enough to see it happen again.” – speaking later in life about the Bucs Super Bowl run of the modern-day Bucs, and the excitement surrounding it.
“Kickers are like horse manure. They’re all over the place.”
“He’s not twins.” — on the weaknesses of linebacker Hugh Green
“When I was duck hunting with Bear Bryant, he shot at one but it kept flying. ‘John,’ he said, ‘there flies a dead duck.’ That’s confidence.”
“We didn’t tackle well today, but we made up for it by not blocking.”
“They fired two guys in the front office before I even got here. We didn’t have a place to practice. There just hadn’t been a lot done. Except they had picked out the uniform, of course.” — on the Bucs organization
“The (orange) uniforms were already picked out by the time I got here. I didn’t give it too much thought until I saw our buses and I said, `My God, we’re dressed just like that bus.’ “ — on the Bucs uniforms
“Everyone is unhappy at times, even my wife. Only she doesn’t get interviewed about it.” –on Buccaneers players who were complaining to the press
“Emotion is highly overrated in football. My wife Corky is emotional as hell, but she can’t play football worth a damn.”
“You draw Xs and Os on a blackboard and that’s not so difficult. I can even do it with my left hand.” — on the difficulty of football
“God’s busy. They’ll have to make do with me.” — when asked if his team prayed for victory
And Finally, from 2 former players, quotes on John McKay.
Doug Williams, TB 1978-82: “That song, ‘I Did It My Way,’ that’s John McKay. He didn’t care what the people thought. He didn’t do things, to win the acceptance of other people. He knew exactly what he was doing.”
Ex-USC and Bucs LB David Lewis, TB 1977-81: “There was nothing phony about the man. … Nobody drafted a black quarterback in the first round in those days. But with Coach McKay, the best players played. He told you what was on his mind, in an honest and straightforward manner. He took the brunt of criticism in the early days, but he had the last laugh. We came a lot further, a lot faster than any team in NFL history.”
Super Bowl III
January 12, 1969, The Jets had just skimped by the Oakland Raiders 27-23 in the AFL Championship. The Colts had just come off an open hand Bitch slap of the Cleveland Browns 34-0. It’s surprising that the Colts weren’t more than 18 point favorites, but that was the line. It was the popular opinion at the time, that the NFL was much stronger than the AFL. Put all that info together, and you can see why people thought Joe Namath was smoking Crack (no such thing, then I know, but it just sounds great) when he predicted the Jets to win the game while hanging out at the Miami Touchdown Club three days before the big game.
We all know the outcome. Without Namath even scoring a single point, the Jets won the game 16-7, and for the first time, a player winning the MVP honors scored not the first point in the game. This was such a can’t miss moment in the early years, It had to be included.
The Immaculate Reception
Another of the Well known top moments. December 23, 1972, Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. The Divisional playoff game with DA RAIDAS. with 30 seconds left in the game. Terry Bradshaw throws a pass to John Fuqua. The ball either hits the helmet of Raiders safety Jack Tatum or the hands of Fuqua. As the ball began to fall to the turf. Franco Harris appeared to scoop the ball up before it hit the ground, running it into the end zone for the win. This set off a run of Super Bowl wins and made the Steelers a team to hate.
Personally, I believe the ball hit the ground, I also believe something isn’t quite right at Area 51. Don’t know if either one will ever be disproven. Harris knows, but he ain’t giving it up, and he isn’t wrong. About the reception, not Area 51.
Miracle at the Met
I watched this game as a kid, It was one of the most exciting games I’ve ever watched. Tommy Kramer was the Vikings QB, I don’t feel like he ever got much credit for being at times, a Damn good QB. He did struggle with a drinking problem. I swear it seemed like when he was practicing his problem, he could throw the laces off the ball. When he was on the wagon, he stunk. He was one of the best at big comebacks. I remember an article on him in a football magazine I had back then. The title of it was, “Two Minute Tommy Gun”. I digress, It was the 4th quarter of the game at Metropolitan Stadium. Week 15 of the 1980 NFL season. The Browns made the lead 23-9, putting the game out of reach, so they thought.
Kramer lead the Vikings to a passing touchdown to RB, Ted Brown, but the point after failed, leaving the Vikings still down by two scores, at 23-15 with 5:01 remaining in the game. After receiving the kickoff, the Browns began running out the clock. soon though it was 2nd and 8 yards to go at the 2:18 mark on the clock. Cleveland decided to risk it, and QB Brian Sipe of the Browns was intercepted by one of the greatest Defensive Backs of his era, The Vikings Bobby Bryant. The Vikings Tommy Kramer then went 4-5 for 47 yards and an Ahmad Rashad touchdown. Just 37 seconds had elapsed. With 1:35 on the clock the Vikings failed to recover the onside kick. The Browns again started to run down the clock, but an untimely penalty ended up causing the Browns to punt to the Vikings with only 23 seconds on the clock. The punt was a touchback, and the Vikings got the ball with 14 seconds left, and no time outs on their own 20, 80 yards to go.
Here’s where it got fun. Vikings coach Bud Grant called for a hook and lateral play, and it was pure brilliance. Kramer threw to Tight End Joe Sensor who immediately lateraled to Ted Brown, who ran out of bounds in a hurry for a 39 yard gain. The last gasp was then upon them. Vikings lined up with all three receivers to the right, and they all high tailed it for the end zone. Kramer heaved a Hail Mary into a crowd of players. It was tipped by a Browns DB and fell into the right hand of Rashad at the one, and he just kept trotting backward into the end zone for the completion of the miracle, the Vikes were in the playoffs.
Miracle in Minnesota
Fast forward 37 years and Stefon Diggs left alone, scores on a 61-yard catch and run as time expired. The only walk-off touchdown score in playoff history to ever end a game in regulation. To say the very least, the Saints were dumb stunned. They either had their jaws dropped in disbelief or had started crying or both. A hugely exciting ending to a great playoff game. I was watching this one too.
Chargers vs Dolphins- the Epic in Miami
I had to include a quick mention of the war that took place in Miami on January 2, 1982. An AFC Playoff game that produced 1,036 yds of total offense. By the end of the first quarter, Miami was down by 24 points, by the end of regulation, it was knotted up at 38. The Chargers won the game, and it seemed like single-handedly by Tight End Kellen Winslow. Definitely the greatest performance by any player in any game in history, In my opinion. Only the game by Emmitt Smith against the Giants I think it was, where Cowboys players had to help him to his feet after every run.
Winslow endured an injured shoulder, a pinched nerve, a swollen eye, a split lip, cramps, and dehydration from the humidity. Just when you thought he couldn’t even stand without help, he came back onto the field and blocked a potential game-winning field goal attempt by Uwe Von Schamann after the Dolphins had recovered a Chuck Muncie fumble. After the game ended it took two players, one under each armpit, to carry Winslow off the field and to the locker room. I was watching that one too, and I marveled at the man. He was a man among boys in that game, and to this day it still amazes me, his performance. 13 catches for 166 yards and a touchdown. Don’t let the numbers fool you, the man was on fire that day, and unstoppable. Neither team deserved to lose, but the Dolphins did that day, and the Chargers were beaten by Oakland the following week, eliminating them from the playoffs.
Draft Day QB steals that changed the World
Patriots draft Tom Brady in the sixth round
Roger Staubach is drafted in the tenth round
Dan Fouts-round three
Fran Tarkenton-round three
Joe Montana-round three
Bart Starr-round seventeen
Johnny Unitas-round nine
Kurt Warner-undrafted free agent signee
This is just scratching the surface of the greatest moments in NFL history, but hopefully, you enjoyed the read and will come back to this site for more. Go Bucs!!