Gaffes memorable but not Oscar-worthy
The Academy Awards were marred by a historic screwup at the end of the night Sunday, but in terms of historic human errors, remembering these terrible fails in sports might help ease the embarrassment:
1. SEAHAWKS-PACKERS, 2012 The “Fail Mary” play essentially ended the NFL lockout of game officials. Replacement officials botched a game-ending call on Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s pass into the end zone. One official signaled a touchdown and another indicated it was an interception, but eventually the Seahawks were given a TD to beat the Green Bay Packers. The controversy that was so bad that the NFL and officials union reached an agreement in the days that followed. An obvious offensive pass interference in the end zone also was missed.
2. THE ‘HEIDI’ GAME In 1968, NBC pulled away from a New York Jets- Oakland Raiders game with just over a minute left to air the movie Heidi. Viewers missed a thrilling ending in which the Raiders scored two touchdowns in the final minute.
3. PHIL MICKELSON’S 2006 U.S. OPEN COLLAPSE At Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., Mickelson stepped up to the 18th tee with a one-stroke lead and hit an errant drive. Instead of safely chipping onto the fairway and moving on, he tried a couple of risky shots that didn’t work and eventually ended up with a double-bogey, which left him one shot behind winner Geoff Ogilvy.
4. MIRACLE AT THE MEADOWLANDS In 1978, the Philadelphia Eagles trailed the New York Giants 17-12 and had no timeouts left in the final minute. The Giants only needed to take a knee to run out the clock, but quarterback Joe Pisarcik attempted a handoff to Larry Csonka. The exchange was botched, and Herman Edwards picked up the fumble and ran 26 yards for a touchdown. Easily one of the dumbest plays in NFL history.
5. SUPER BOWL XLIX PLAY CALL What if Pete Carroll and his Seahawks offensive coaches had chosen to run the ball with Marshawn Lynch at the end of Super Bowl XLIX instead of calling a pass, which led to Malcolm Butler’s interception and a miraculous win for the New England Patriots? We don’t know. All we do know is that the play call was slammed by just about everyone, sending Carroll and Co. into the “worst sports mistakes” record books.
6. STANFORD-CAL BAND GAME, 1982 It all started with a rare mental error by Stanford quarterback John Elway. With eight seconds to go, he called a timeout — which meant that when Cardinal kicker Mark Harmon sent a 35-yard kick through the uprights, Cal had time left on the clock for one more play. But no one told the Stanford band this: So on the kickoff when a California player grabbed the football on his team’s 46-yard line and began a series of laterals and pitch backs, the Golden Bears ended up running through confused Stanford band members on the field and scoring the game-winning touchdown. “I was incredibly angry right after the game, then I was just numb,” Ken Williams, a freshman wide receiver at the time, told the school’s alumni magazine.
7. DAVID CONE ARGUES WHILE RUNS SCORE In a largely forgotten but nonetheless embarrassing mental gaffe early in the 1990 season, New York Mets pitcher Cone objected to a call at first base and got into a heated argument with the umpire, ignoring the two Atlanta Braves runners on base. Cone, now one of the game’s most cerebral broadcasters, turned his back to home plate as both runners scored, and the Braves went on to win 7-4.
8. BUCK SHOWALTER PLAYS IT BY THE BOOK Baltimore Orioles manager Showalter entered the 2016 American League wild-card game with a great reputation for his ability to manage a bullpen, but he exited it a goat for failing to turn to his best pitcher with his club’s season on the line. Though reportedly healthy and ready to pitch, lefthander Zach Britton — who yielded a 0.54 ERA during the regular season — watched from the bullpen as Showalter turned to farless-effective Ubaldo Jimenez to face the heart of the Toronto Blue Jays lineup with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning. Jimenez promptly allowed singles to Devon Travis and Josh Donaldson before Edwin Encarnacion’s monster homer gave Toronto a walk-off win and sent Baltimore home for the offseason.
9. CHRIS WEBBER CALLS A TIMEOUT First, the Michigan star traveled, but it wasn’t called. Then, with his team down by two points and 11 seconds left in the 1993 NCAA tournament championship game, Webber called a timeout. The problem? His team had none left, which meant instead of getting a chance to reset, Michigan was given a technical foul, and North Carolina went on to win 77-71.
California’s Kevin Moen crosses the goal line amid Stanford band members to score the winning TD in November 1982.
Replacement officials gave differing signals on the infamous Packers-Seahawks “Fail Mary” play in September 2012.