Football Sports Oddities and Trivia

Some random facts and trivia about the sport football.

A MINI-ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SPORTS ODDITIES

FOOTBALL

One-armed player Ed Barrett put on a spectacular performance when his Cedartown team played the team from Rome, Ga., on Oct. 31, 1930. In that game, Barrett caught four passes and intercepted three.

In a freshman football game between Montana State University and Billings Polytech on Nov. 1, 1924, Forest Peters of Montana State kicked 17 of 22 field goals.

It is amazing enough that Tom Dempsey, born with only half a right foot, was able to make it in the NFL as a kicker. But it is even more remarkable that he holds the record for the longest field goal--63 yd. Dempsey's kick came on the last play of a game between New Orleans and Detroit on a snowy November Sunday in 1970. Dempsey, wearing a special kicking shoe, had already booted three field goals for the Saints in the game to bring them to within one point of Detroit, 17--16. His record kick in the final seconds won the game for the Saints and turned around Dempsey's poor kicking average. He was only 5 for 15 on field goal attempts going into the game.

Though he's remembered as one of the most athletic of presidents, Theodore Roosevelt threatened to ban college football in 1905. Eighteen players had died of injuries that year, and 73 others had suffered serious injuries. One of Roosevelt's sons, a freshman at Harvard, came home from the first day of practice with a black eye. To be a lineman, noted one observer, you had to be "a good wrestler and fair boxer." A popular formation was the flying wedge, in which a phalanx of blocking linemen (often grabbing handles sewn to the pants of the man in front) thundered down the field linked together, with the ball carrier right behind, usually leaving bodies strewn all over the field. A newspaper photo of Swarthmore star Box Maxwell staggering off the field after all of Penn's players had ganged up on him moved Roosevelt to shake his big stick at the rules makers. At his urging, the flying wedge was outlawed, a neutral zone between opposing lines was established, and the forward pass was legalized.

Why don't woodpeckers get headaches? UCLA researchers searched for the answer in an effort to find a formula for a safer helmet for football players, motorcyclists, and race car drivers. The researchers found that the woodpeckers' brain is tightly packed, with very little fluid surrounding it, making it difficult for shock to be transmitted. Also, the woodpecker tightens its head and neck muscles when it taps. The researchers recommended light, tightfitting helmets with a spongy layer under the outer shell, as well as exercise programs designed to strengthen neck and shoulder muscles. But Dr. Robert Kerlan of the National Institute of Sports Health said that the safest helmet would be one that shattered to small fragments upon impact, because it would soften the shock. However, he added that it would be too costly and messy. Breakaway helmets have not appeared on the market yet.

In 1972 a former NFL quarterback was arrested after allegedly offering to leak the 1971 Los Angeles Rams' playbook to the New Orleans Saints for $2,500. However, federal authorities decided not to prosecute when they failed to establish the worth--if any--of the book.

Quarterback George Mira of the now defunct World Football League's Jacksonville team tore his finger when he cautht it in a zipper in the artificial turf at the Honolulu stadium.

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