Quick Takes


    It was weird to see my beautiful palm trees blanketed with snow Tuesday. Snow in the Las Vegas valley; it hasn’t happened since 1996. But there will be a severe ice storm here that will close down the city for two weeks before either of the Manning brothers wears a Super Bowl ring. The Manning family manipulated the 2004 NFL draft, but they can’t manipulate the games.


    The Sixers got the best of the Nuggets. They got two first round draft picks in 2007, ok point guard Andre Miller and not-so-ok power forward Joe Smith for Allen Iverson, 31 now. Iverson is a great player who has always giveen 100% on the court. But all of his distractions hurt a team immeasurably. He expects a separate set of rules for himself; just ask his ex-coaches. The point guard is the QB of a basketball team. He’s the ordained court leader. It’s his job to make his players better. Iverson has never done that. He’s interested in just one player. Two top gunners in Denver and only one ball equals big ego trouble. Philly would love to convert this deal into the top lottery pick next year, and now they have lots of salary cap money, too. A big long-term Philly win!


    Two other sports liabilities did it again. Isiah Thomas cried like a baby after the Nuggets stuck it to his Knicks. Isiah thought he was coaching the Rangers, and sent in the goons. And the NFL leader in dropped passes, Terrell Owens, spit in the face of Atlanta’s cornerback DeAngelo Hall. Thomas and Owens are both class……………without the cl.


    When the Houston Astrodome was completed in 1966, it was billed as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Now you can see the “First Wonder of the New World.” Go to the Dallas Cowboys website, and see the professional unveiling of their new stadium in Arlington, scheduled to open in 2009. It will be an absolutely fantastic facility at only $1 billion.


    Thanks to Kenny Kelly for this interesting note. In 1927, Babe Ruth, batting third in the Yankees order, drove in 164 runs. What makes this so interesting is the fact that Lou Gehrig, batting right behind Ruth in the order, drove in 175 runs himself. 175 is a lot of runs-batted-in when the guy directly in front of you knocks in 164.


    Then I became more curious about that 1927 Yankees team. It gets even more interesting. The hitter in the five slot was Tony Lazzeri; he drove in 102 runs. The batter in the sixth position was Bob Meusel; he drove home 103 runs. So four Yankees on that 1927 team batting three-through-six in the batting order drove home a combined 544 runs. It certainly helped that Ruth batted .356 with 60 home runs, and Gehrig batted .373 with 47 homers. Yet only one player on that team other than Ruth and Gehrig scored 100 or more runs; leadoff hitter Earle Combs with 137. Baseball historians credit that ’27 Yankees team as the best ever assembled. Despite some great teams I’ve seen during my lifetime, I cannot possibly refute that logic.


Story of the Week



    I’ll never forget the situation or that bazaar play. You know what I remember most about it? I remember the San Diego chicken, the team’s mascot, falling over on his rear end as if having fainted from disbelief after the play ended. That play was for the birds in more ways than one.


Per The Pro Football Hall of Fame:


    When it comes to football lore, few moments in National Football League history are so significant that they earn a specific nickname. One such bizarre play in a game between the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders in 1978 was just that and today is simply referred to as the “Holy Roller.”

    Ten seconds remained in the Week 2 match up at San Diego on September 10, 1978, when Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler dropped back to pass from the 14-yard-line. Chargers defensive end Fred Dean broke through the line and hit Stabler. Realizing there was nothing else he could do as the seconds ticked away, “The Snake” hurled the ball forward. As the ball rolled loose on the ground, Raiders running back Pete Banaszak swatted it toward the end zone. Tight end Dave Casper continued the ball’s forward motion with a kick at the five yard line and then fell on in it in the end zone for a touchdown as the clock ran out.

    Despite a protest from the Chargers sideline, referee Jerry Markbreit ruled it a legal play. Kicker Errol Mann added the extra point and the Raiders won the game, 21-20.

    Markbreit’s decision to uphold the play was absolutely correct by the rules in place at the time. However, that would soon change. During the off-season, the league added a provision to the rule book about fumbles after the two-minute warning that allows only the player who fumbled the ball to advance it. As such, the rule change implemented will forever prevent the “Holy Roller” from happening again.


Per NFL.com on September 23, 2003:


    The season after Dave Casper's "Ghost to the Post" helped Oakland beat Baltimore in an AFC playoff game, the Raiders' tight end was a key figure in another famous play: the "Holy Roller."

    Oakland trailed the Chargers 20-14 late in the game at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium on Sept. 10, 1978. The Raiders were out of time outs on the Chargers' 14-yard line with 10 seconds left.

    Quarterback Ken Stabler, who knew that a sack would eat up the remaining time, was about to be dropped at the 24-yard line by linebacker Woodrow Lowe when he flipped the ball underhand in the direction of the goal line.

    Running back Pete Banaszak won the scramble for the ball at the 12, and just as he was going down, he tossed it toward the goal line with two hands. At the 5, Casper reached down for the ball and came up empty, so he kicked and batted it into the end zone, where he fell on the ball for a touchdown as time ran out.

    The Chargers howled, but the officials ruled the play a fumble, and Errol Mann kicked the extra point to give Oakland a 21-20 victory.

    Former Chargers QB Dan Fouts was not diplomatic. “The officials blew it … absolutely blew it."


Quote, Unquote:

    Ken Stabler's response to radio announcer Bill King, who asked the quarterback immediately after the "Holy Roller" game if he had purposely fumbled.

    "You bet your ass I did!"


Last Week’s Trivia


    The incomparable Leo Durocher said it. He is my all-time favorite manager. Nobody has ever known baseball better than Leo Durocher, and no manager has ever managed the game or his players better. For more about “The Lip,” see my feature story dated 5-5-05.


Trivia Question of the Week


    The 1971 Dallas Cowboys (The Cowboys won their first Super Bowl, Super Bowl VI) had a trio of running backs that got the job done quite adequately. Name the three fine running backs of that great team. See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.