This Week in Sports History 12/12 – 12/16
With the World Cup reaching its semifinal stage, we have seen history unfold before our very eyes with the potential for more as one nation hoists the FIFA World Cup Trophy. We have seen underdog stories such as Morocco becoming the first African country to reach the semifinal, and France giving itself the opportunity to be the first repeat World Cup winners since Brazil in 1958 and 1962. Croatia has had an improbable rise led by Luka Modric who is making a case as one of the world’s best players, and Argentina’s prodigal son Lionel Messi may finally win the title that has preceded him. As the Cup wraps up, let’s take a look back at some of the sports world’s most historic moments that happened this week.
Monday December 12
1976: Joe Namath Plays Last Game as a New York Jet
The man known as “Broadway Joe” played his last game as a Jet in a game that was a particularly bad day at the office. Namath went four for fifteen passing accumulating only 20 yards with four interceptions against the Cincinnati Bengals in a 42-3 loss. Namath was substituted for backup John Reaves, who did not fare much better against a tough defensive effort. The Super Bowl champion and Hall of Famer then spent his final year on the Rams, eventually retiring from football. Marty Glickman and Dave Herman served as the radio broadcast team on WOR Radio, serving as the voice of the Jets from 1974-1978.
Tuesday December 13
1983: Denver and Detroit Play Highest Scoring Game in NBA History
A triple-overtime affair between the Denver Nuggets and Detroit Pistons was the highest scoring game in NBA history and is a record that remains today. The Pistons would win the game 186-184, off the combined 123 points from Isiah Thomas, John Long and Kelly Tripucka. What makes this game particularly fascinating was that only four three-point shots were attempted in the entire game, which is unheard of now in today’s game that is historically higher scoring. Al Albert was the voice of the Nuggets in 1983 and left after 21 years in 1996. The Pistons were called by George Blaha.
Wednesday December 14
1958: Pat Summerall Wins Game Winning Field Goal Against Cleveland Browns
Pat Summerall is regarded as one of the greatest broadcasters in American sports history, but before entering the broadcast booth was an NFL kicker. In a game between the Giants and Browns that took place at Yankee Stadium, Summerall kicked the game winner, giving the Giants a 13-10 victory. That year’s Giants team was quite successful, going 9-3 and reaching the NFL Championship, where they would lose to the Baltimore Colts. It was the league’s first ever overtime match. Vince Lombardi before becoming head coach of the Green Bay Packers the next season. 1959. Tom Landry, the Defensive coach would move down to Dallas. After football, Summerall would make a historic broadcast partnership with John Madden and be the voice of American football for families across the countries, best known for his impressive knowledge of the game. That season, Les Keiter did the Giants games and Bob Wolff the the Colts.
Thursday December 15
1973: Tennessee Beats Temple in Lowest Scoring NCAA Men’s Basketball Game
Prior to the introduction of the shot clock in the 1985-86 season, the Tennessee Volunteers and Temple Owls played the lowest scoring game in college basketball history, where the Vols picked up the victory 11-6. The game was so awful that the President of the University of Tennessee Edward J. Boling went physically onto the court and ordered the teams to scrimmage. Temple figured that the only chance it had of beating Tennessee was to stall, holding on to the ball for as long as possible, like 32 of the 40 minutes. To this day it is regarded as one of the worst games of the century, giving the NCAA good reason to introduce the shot clock. John Ward was the voice of Volunteers basketball from 1965-1999, also calling their football games during that time. Temple didn’t have all its games on radio.
Friday December 16
1972: Miami Dolphins Become First Ever Undefeated NFL Team
In a year that will live in infamy for the NFL, the Dolphins became the league’s only undefeated team in history, beating the Washington 16-0 in the Super Bowl. The Dolphins went 14-0 in the regular season, and later won the Super Bowl, 14-7, becoming the first and only team to never lose in a single season. The 2007-08 Patriots came close, but lost in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants. This ’72 Dolphins team led by Larry Csonka is the true benchmark for success in the NFL and will be until this milestone is reached again. With the expanded regular season to 17 games and expanded playoffs however, the chances of an undefeated team are now very minimal. Rick Weaver was the voice of the Dolphins for their undefeated season, serving as the team’s radio play-by-play broadcaster from 1971-1993.