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.


25 Years Ago Today: Flipper Anderson Breaks Record For Receiving Yards

November 26, 2014

The NFL record for receiving yards in a single game was set 25 years ago today by Willie “Flipper” Anderson with 336 yards on 15 catches against a very aggressive New Orleans Saints defense on a Monday night, November 26, 1989.

The Los Angeles Rams met the New Orleans Saints in a possible playoff spot-determining game in the Super Dome.  The Rams trailed most of the game, and by the 4th quarter, had dug themselves a 17-3 deficit.  Anderson caught numerous underthrows against one of the best defenses of the era, and even scored the game-tying touchdown on a 15-yard pass from Jim Everett.  The Rams ended up winning in overtime, 20-17.

The Saints would finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs, finishing third in the NFC West.

The Rams would finish 11-5, defeat the New York Giants 19-13 in overtime with Anderson catching two touchdown passes including the game-winner, but fall to the San Francisco 49ers 30-3 in the NFC Championship a week later.  The Rams would not make the playoffs again until the 1999 season in St. Louis.

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