This Day In History (December 8, 1980)

December 8, 2015

Thirty-two years ago, on today’s date, the real world and sports collided in a rather strange way.

The New England Patriots were playing the Miami Dolphins in the Orange Bowl on Monday Night Football.  It was a tight game, tied at six going into the fourth quarter, and tied up again at thirteen-all with under a minute left in regulation.  Near the end of regulation in a game that was vital to the AFC playoff picture, ABC News informed Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, and Frank Gifford that former Beatle John Lennon had been shot in the back and killed outside of his apartment in New York City.

There’s something you have to remember here:  This was back in the days before internet, social media, cell phones, text messaging, E-mail, and just about every other form of instant communication that we have today with the exception of the telephone.  Cable TV was still in its infancy, and most Americans didn’t have access to a 24-hour news network like we have entirely too much of today.  Monday Night Football was the highest-rated show on at the time, and would get the news of Lennon’s death to the most amount of people.

An ABC reporter just happened to be at the hospital for a completely unrelated reason, and heard the words “John Lennon” and “shot” from down the hallway.  That’s how ABC got the story first, and the ABC truck informed the crew in the booth that they had to announce what happened on air.  After discussing the situation during a commercial, they decided that there was no good way to break the news, and just decided to come right out with it.  Patriots kicker John Smith was actually lining up for a potential game-winning field goal (which he ended up missing) when Howard Cosell told the world about what he called “an unspeakable tragedy”.

Chances are that a story like that will never be reported to the public in the same way again.


Google Question: Dan Marino’s Achilles Tendon

December 9, 2012

Once again, in a never-ending effort to keep up with my readers, I will answer a question that someone Googled to find this site:

In what game did Dan Marino’s Achilles tendon rupture?

Short answer:  1993 season, Week 6 @ Cleveland, the Dolphins won 24-14.

The Dolphins were coming off winning the AFC East and making an AFC Championship game appearance (they were defeated 29-10 at home by Buffalo), and were expected to make a Super Bowl run in 1993.  The Bills were getting older, the Jets and Patriots were rebuilding, and the Colts were oh so miserable.  The 1993 season was unique in that it was the only season in the modern NFL where each team had two bye weeks during the season.  The Dolphins had theirs in week three of that year, and were fortunate to have their other bye week after Dan Marino got injured at Cleveland.

Marino was obviously out for the season, and was replaced by a combination of Scott Mitchell and Steve DeBerg.  They actually did a pretty good job filling in for a while, winning five of their next six including Thanksgiving day against the Cowboys (courtesy of Leon Lett), placing them firmly in first place in the AFC East with a 9-2 record.

Then the bottom fell out.

The Dolphins lost their last five games of the season which included a brutal three-game stretch against the Giants, Steelers, and Bills.  The Dolphins finished the year 9-7 and missed the playoffs entirely.  Miami was plagued by turnovers, especially fumbles, during that stretch, and their team wasn’t good enough to overcome the turnover problem.  Their last game of the season ended up being the first big win of the career of Drew Bledsoe, who let the Patriots to a 33-27 overtime win against the Dolphins in the last week of the season.

Marino returned to lead the Dolphins to the playoffs in 1994, but eventually lost to the San Diego Chargers 22-21 in the Divisional round after taking a 21-6 lead in the second half.  San Diego would end up losing Super Bowl XXIX to the San Francisco 49ers, 49-26.


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