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Published:September 8th, 2014 15:44 EST
Are You Ready for Some Football!?

Are You Ready for Some Football!?

By Ron G Anselm

"Another year of the NFL season starts next week; the thrills of watching players like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Reggie Bush just to name a few will once again stimulate our warrior side within each and every one of us and bring out the extreme motivation of the athlete in all of us" (Anselm, R.)

And the famous line that used to motivate us every Monday Night from Hank Williams Jr. still lives on. Those motivating six words that Hank is so famous for singing every Monday Night during the NFL season as we rushed home from work, popped in the T.V. dinner in the microwave and made a B-Line for our lounge chair as we clicked the power button on our television remote control and turned on ABC just in time for the kickoff on that week`s Monday Night football game. Monday Night football first aired on ABC in 1970 and throughout the years gave us many great games and moments from the NFL.

ESPN has long taken over the Monday Night football contract and ABC is just a memory for carrying the game as they did since 1970 but the spirit and great moments from every Monday night football game still holds true and as John Madden famously put it on the last broadcast of Monday night football on ABC in 2006, They can take away the game from ABC but they can`t take away the memories.  And over the past thirty-six years that ABC carried Monday Night football there was some memories, oh, man what a collection of adrenaline flowing last two-minute touchdown drives to win games, last second game winning field goals, penalties that raised many head coaches and defensive coordinators blood pressure and then we had the many times that we as a family watched the games together and had sort of a family night. What a great time back then it was to be a sports fan.

Since we are reading this article and getting in a sentimental mood, I want to go over the top four most memorable moments from the NFL. There are actually ten top moments but I am only going to delve into four of them to keep this brief.

These are moments that made the NFL top moments list and will take you back to a different time of not only your life but within the NFL itself if you happened to be a part of them when they happened.  I will keep these top three moments as brief as possible without losing any of the feel of the moment or the quality of the details but I could sit back and write ten books on just the history and memories of not only football but sports in general, so if I end up overdoing each moment ten you know why.

I am going to skip around the list and write about the three moments that I was a part of and to me are the best, so the list will not be in order as the original Top Ten list from the NFL....And here we go.....

The tenth most memorable moment from the NFL archives list happened in a game between the Green Bay Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles. I don`t remember the year but remember the game. It was the Divisional playoff game and the Eagles season was coming to an end as every second of the fourth quarter was ticking off the game clock like your uncle Henry losing his each strand of his gray hair.

The Eagles were down by three points with just a few seconds over a minute left in the game. They had just got a first down and with Donovan McNabb at the helm (in the Quarterback position) he decided to try to get a big chunk of yards and threw an incomplete pass down field. Also, to add insult to injury the Eagles were also penalized for a false start and with that another five yard penalty going the wrong way. On second down, the Eagles offensive line crumbled with the over whelming defensive line of the Packers and with both Defensive ends blitzing, McNabb was wrapped up and sacked for an eleven yard loss.

With the sack and the penalty before that play the Eagles were not in a miracle situation facing third down and twenty six yards to go for the first down. McNabb scrambled back looking downfield for his two receivers to get open and open beyond the first down marker but with the Packers secondary and both cornerbacks coming in for the short pass and the secondary free safeties covering the receivers proved too much for the Eagles and the passing arm of McNabb.

If you were an Eagles fan in this situation and maybe you were at the game, you would think it probably would be a good time to leave the game and get to your car somewhere lost in the sea of cars in the parking lot and maybe try to get a jump on the massive traffic that was about to swarm the parking lot and every roadway coming in and out of the stadium and would be probably more irritating to sit in trying to hit the main road and get to the freeway than sitting in traffic on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles. If you have ever been to any sporting even when the game is over then you know what I am talking about with the traffic you face after everyone is trying to leave the stadium at the same time.

So, you would think with the Eagles in this situation the game is probably over facing a fourth down, twenty-six yards to go until another life and a fresh set of down to keep the drive going but if anyone is an Eagles fan and has been for a long-time then you know back in the day with McNabb as your quarterback in every critical situation and with every snap of the ball it was like getting a Christmas present from Grandma, you never knew what you were going to get and McNabb once again lived up to that tradition on the next play.

With the Eagles facing elimination and their season almost over, the Eagles coaching staff biting their nails on the sidelines, McNabb decided to go for broke. The clock was down to well under a minute left in the game, the Packers were ready to celebrate the win, the Eagles offensive line broken and beat-up this next play was the Eagles season and meant it did all come down to the final next play which would tell the fans whether the Eagle would advance in the past season or head to the golf courses until next year.

Here is the play, McNabb and the offense comes to the line, McNabb is calling the signals to his offense which suddenly feels a sense of motivation like a true warrior. McNabb is calling the signals hard as to try to get the awaiting defensive line of the Packers to maybe jump off side and get a free play and more yards with the offside penalty moving the right direction this time. Not to be, the ball is snapped the Eagles receiver sprint down field like tigers sprinting after their prey. The linebackers of the Packers blitz trying to confuse the pass protection and get another sack of McNabb and then suddenly, hope, yes hope, one of the Eagles receivers does a stop and go pattern and gets beyond the free safety of the Packers like a piece of metal coming free from a magnet. He is open but only for a split second.

McNabb`s eyes are trained on the open receivers and he guns a perfect laser pass to Freddie Mitchell, his receiver and makes its mark and a catch and gain of twenty-eight yards and the first down. The clock is ticking, the offense does not hold a huddle but sprints down the field to line up quickly to get the next snap off to spike the ball and stop the clock since the Eagles had no time outs left.

McNabb gets his offense in order and does not call a long set of signals but snaps the ball on the first one and spikes it to stop the clock. The Eagles are in field goal range and decide to try to tie this one with a chip shot for their sure footer kick David Akers and send the game into overtime.

The field goal team runs on the field and lines up. The referee signal to start the clock and then the whistle blows. The Packers take a time out as to try to distract and rattle the Eagle chip shot field goal kicker, Akers and to try to keep the butterflies in his stomach which by now it must fell like those butterflies are throwing a block party in Akers stomach with the longer waiting time to try to win this one with his powerful kicking leg.

The referee signals the Packers onto the field and once again, as the Miller Lite beer commercial says, Here we go " The Eagles line up once again, Akers is back ten yards from the offensive line ready to kick to ball that hopefully stays inside of each end of the goal post, then...to send this game into overtime...to keep the Eagles season and hopes alive to try to send the game in overtime....every Eagles fan in the country sits quiet, eyes glued on David Akers, every Packers fan is sitting, hands interlocked behind their head praying for the missed field goal and the win...then....the ball is snapped, suddenly time slows down in slow motion, the field goal spotter centers the ball for Akers to drill, and.... Akers foot makes contact with the ball; the Packers line leaps ferociously in the air to try to block the kick but just falls within centimeters of touching the ball, and...The ball goes through the heart of the goal post. The fans erupt like a 747 taking off, time moves back to normal...the game is in overtime. Later in the game Akers got another chance to win this one with another field goal try and did. The Eagles advanced in the post season that year by defeating the Packers in the Divisional playoff game. (Whew, a little out of breath after writing this one!)

Number nine that made the top ten list is...........

I clearly remember this one as a kid since I saw the game on NBC..; I believe this one happened in 1976 with a game between the New York Giants and again the Philadelphia Eagles. If I remember, the Giants were ahead in the game by less than a touchdown. They clearly had control of the clock and simply just had to take the snap and kneel down to waste the seconds off the game clock for the win but the Giants Quarterback, Joe Pisarcik decided to take the snap and try to hand off the ball to Larry Csonka. Now, I can relate to this since I am also an ex-running back.

When you take the handoff from the Quarterback you have to have just about perfect timing at the point of the quarterback sticking the ball in your arms and gut and you taking the ball from the Quarterback. This takes timing, and delaying your running to hesitate for a second not only to have perfect sync in taking the ball from the Quarterback but you also want to delay a second to give your left or right guard (depending on what side the play is designed to move to) a chance to open the hold in the line for you to sprint through.

This did not happen on this particular play as Csonka took the ball and never had control of it, fumbled it and Herm Edwards of the Eagles picked-up the ball and sprinted twenty-six yards to the end zone for the touchdown and the win for the Eagles.

This play was not a total waste, it spurred the NFL and every Head coach in the league from that day to the present to look at what can be done to prevent this from happening to their team. I won`t go into what the resolution is to what to do for a team in this situation on the playbook, but watch this year in the NFL if a team, even your team has the ball with less than a minute to go and ahead in the game. Watch how the offense lines up when your team and hopefully they don`t try to move the ball but just hold it and have the quarterback just take the snap and take a knee to wind down the game clock for the win. Watch how the offense lines up and what they do to guard against the memories of the 1976 Giants and Eagles game moment if the ball should somehow come lose.

The number four moment from the list.....

In 1972, the Miami Dolphins had the perfect season by going 16-0. Back then the league only played sixteen regular season games (now its seventeen regular season games) and most teams do not accomplish this feat very often by winning all their regular season games, the Miami Dolphins did and it made history.  

On top of the Dolphins going 16-0 in the regular season they also won all their post-season games and eventually took it all that year by also winning the Super Bowl. Bob Griese was their starting quarterback that year but was injured in week five of the season. The Dolphins second string quarterback, Earl Morrall stepped up to lead the Dolphins continued perfect season and the win in Super Bowl VII against the Washington Redskins.

The number three moment from the list....

This next moment has been voted by the NFL as the greatest catch in NFL history which is known as the " Immaculate Reception " and I remember the moment vividly as again I was watching the game on television. It was another Divisional playoff game and the game featured the intimidating defense of the Oakland Raiders and the explosive offense of the Pittsburgh Steelers.  

Since I was and have been an Oakland Raiders fan since I was still in my Mother`s womb before I was even born, I was of course looking for the Raiders to win the game and advance in the post-season of play.

Again, this play featured another moment of the team with the ball (the offense) and in this case the Steelers were down 7-6 to the Raiders, time running out in the game and a fourth down and ten yards to go for the first on the Steelers own forty-yard line.

Terry Bradshaw was of course the Steelers quarterback and the game was down to this play and the Steelers season waiting in the wings to advance to the post-season or go home. The ball was snapped and Bradshaw tried to throw to his running back but in mid-air the ball was deflected by if I remember correctly and I am looking at the play in my head and this moment, Jack Tatum of the Raiders deflected the ball and sent the ball flying about ten yards in the air and fifteen yards forward. While in mid-air and just inches from the ground, Franco Harris who was the Steelers Full-Back ended-up catching a shoelace catch and running the ball downfield to the end zone and giving the Steelers the lead with just five seconds remaining in the game. The Steelers went on to win that game.

Now, being a Raiders fan and seeing this play on and off over the years; I still think the ball touched the ground and Harris did not catch it before it touched the ground. About five years ago, I watched an interview on ESPN with Franco Harris and he was asked that question, Did you really catch the ball before it touched the ground? " And his response to me kind of said it all. He smiled and evaded the question sort of steering it in another direction but did eventually say he did catch the ball and it never touched the ground. Back in those days there were no play reviews like today. We had no referee review boots or any way to overturn the call or any coach`s challenge flags to be able to challenge and review the call made.  So, whatever call the referees made back in those day stood and in this case the referees called it a catch and a touchdown for the Steelers.

Well, Franco maybe so, but as a Raiders fan, No; I still think the ball touched the ground but It doesn`t matter whether it did or not, I am just glad to have been able to watch this moment on television and be part of one of the greatest catches in NFL history.

The term Immaculate Reception " came from a fan calling into a Pittsburgh radio station that night and playing off this Christian term, Immaculate Reception " Again, this moment in NFL history as gone down in the archives of football as the greatest catch of all time.

So, there you have it, four great moments from the NFL. The greatest moments happened back in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s in not only the NFL but professional sports. We had the greatest players back in those days and with having the greatest players will come the greatest moments.

                                                                                      Reference

Top 10 Most Memorable NFL Moments, Listverse Staff October 10, 2009, (http://listverse.com/2009/10/10/top-10-most-memorable-nfl-moments/) Retrieved 2014.

From the NFL to MLB, baseball is also full of many memorable moments from the history of the game. If you would like to read about some of the MLB moments buy yourself a copy of my book titled, Our Grand Ol` National Past Time " A Brief History of Major League Baseball " Go to (ronanselm.tateauthor.com) or (www.tatepublishing.com) or (www.amazon.com), (www.barensandnobles.com) or many more website to buy your copies of my book.