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.


This Day in NFL History: Derrick Thomas Sets NFL Sack Record

November 11, 2014

On November 11th, 1990, Derrick Thomas broke the NFL record for sacks in a single game previously held by Fred Dean with seven against the Seattle Seahawks at Arrowhead Stadium.

Despite Thomas’ efforts, the Chiefs ended up losing 17-16 when Dave Krieg  found Paul Skansi for a 25-yard touchdown pass on the last play with Krieg escaping Thomas’ eight sack.  The Seahawks actually led for most of the third quarter until Thomas forced Krieg to fumble on a vicious blind-side hit at the goal line, and Dan Saleaumua recovered for the Chiefs’ only touchdown.   Even more impressive is that the Seahawks had to drive nearly the length of the field with under a minute left with no timeouts left to score the winning TD.

Thomas would later say that he would give up every one of his seven sacks if it meant the Chiefs would get the “W”.

The Seahawks would ultimately miss the playoffs in 1990 despite fighting back after an 0-3 start to earn a 9-7 record.

The Chiefs would make the playoffs as a wild card, but lost to the Miami Dolphins 17-16 after going into the 4th quarter with a 16-3 lead.  Dan Marino threw two touchdowns in the 4th quarter (one of which was almost picked off at the goal line, and probably would have been run back for an easy six), and Nick Lowery came up short on a 50-yard field goal attempt with under a minute left.

Derrick Thomas did lead the NFL in sacks in 1990 with twenty.

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