Three Plays, Three Flags

  • Mike McCurry
  • 02/2/16
What happened at Tampa Stadium that afternoon might have been an NFL record. Thankfully, at the time no one thought to research it. They certainly would not want it to happen again.
It was a hot afternoon and the Minnesota Vikings were suffering in the Florida heat at the Buccaneers’ home stadium. The game was beginning to wind down as Minnesota’s offense took the field once again, hoping for a successful drive to save the game. The quarterback gave a hard snap count to try to gain some free yardage by drawing the defense offside. His irregular voice inflection, unfortunately, had a different effect: it pulled his own lineman offside.
As this was a nationally televised game, the offside offender’s name and number appeared on thousands of TV screens across America. #74 knew it and wanted to hide.
Back in the huddle, the quarterback called out a familiar play to his team: a screen pass. The execution of the play took longer than usual to unfold, however … and by the time the pass was thrown, a lineman was looking to get his second block (illegally) down the field. The ref blew the whistle and the same offensive guard who had jumped offside on the previous play got his second infraction. #74 flashed across the TVs again.
The team huddled up once more while the quarterback dictated another play: a roll-out pass. This play is usually successful if the offensive guard pulls out around the end of the line in time to block the uncovered linebacker. If not, the quarterback is a sitting duck for the linebacker to have his way with.
Unfortunately, on this particular play, the blitzing linebacker got there first. The only thing the guard could do to protect his quarterback was grab the shirt of the mammoth linebacker and pull him to the ground. A third yellow flag was thrown — apparently with such great disdain that it sailed straight toward the offender — #74 — and lodged itself in his face mask.
The home team’s crowd loved it … and then they began to cheer even louder. The ashamed #74 thought they were cheering because of the holding call his play had earned. But as he got to his feet, flag still stuck in his helmet, he turned and realized that Mr. Mammoth had gone right over the top of him and sacked the quarterback!
In the life of an offensive lineman, there’s not much worse than three penalties and a sack. But to have them all occur in a row — and broadcasted on national TV — is absolutely unheard of.
114 million viewers watched the Super Bowl last year, and according to U.S. News and World Report, the NFL will mesmerize 184 million this Sunday. 43 million people plan to host a party. Wow! How may ranch dips will we consume? I have no idea, but knowing this community, there will definitely be a high per-capita number of parties and social outlet opportunities. We just love an excuse to get together.
Most of you will go to socialize, but some will actually watch the game. I think almost all of us tune in and are entertained by the commercials. My co-sponsor of last year’s Dancin’ in the Street concerts, Weathertech, will once again have a 30-second ad. The price tag: a mere $4.5 million. Apparently the ads are working; everyone I know loves this local company and swears by their product.
As for me, I secretly swear by the appetizer fest. My family usually attends a gathering where everyone brings a favorite homemade dish. My wife, Amy, makes this cheesy buffalo chicken dip that is to die for! Stuffed jalapenos, figs wrapped in bacon (everything’s better with bacon!) and a plethora of chips, dips and cheeses usually make it to the table. But it’s the slow-cooked/marinated Italian sausage that one of our hosts makes that scores the highest points.
The game certainly has changed over the years. The players are bigger, faster and stronger. The rules have changed too, and for good reason. The debilitating blows to the head delivered from helmet to helmet are not allowed anymore in order to prevent concussions. Hopefully, by now the consumer understands that the referees are not just being hard on the players; they call those penalties for the players’ own safety.
No matter how many yellow flags are thrown this weekend, I doubt that any one player will earn three in a row. That was a once-in-a-lifetime moment of embarrassment, never to be repeated again. Believe me: Minnesota’s #74 — yours truly — would never wish that on anyone!
Enjoy the party!
Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around the area. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.
Two old football players
Arena Football – Chicago Bruisers
Indiana Hoosiers!

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