What is the most memorable moment of the 2012 NFL season? The 2012 NFL season has produced some extremely memorable moments. Anytime you have a league with the aggregate talent that is present in the NFL, you come to expect the spectacular. With human nature and the fallibility associated with it, you can also expect to see some things that bring solemnity and a renewed perspective. It seems that each season there is at least one moment in which the point that life is bigger than football in brought front and center.
This season, even though it has not yet ended, has not failed to produce a number of moments that will be seared in the minds and hearts of fans for years to come.
Yes, there have been many memorable moments on the field. There is the phantom catch by Golden Tate over M.D. Jennings and a host of Greenbay Packer defenders that brought the games integrity into question and expedited a resolution between the league and its game officials. It, in some ways, restored the fans confidence in the leagues commitment to put a credible product on the field each and every week.
You can look at the collective presentation of Adrian Peterson’s spectacular comeback in which he has put together a number of games where he has rushed for more than 200 yards. Less than a year after many questioned whether he would be anywhere close to the player he was before the injury, Peterson is on pace to challenge Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record.
The list of extraordinary plays by players in the league is quite impressive, but the most memorable moment was not a football play. In a year that has seen one player kill the mother of his 3 month old daughter and then take his own life, and another kill his best friend and teammate in an automobile accident in which he was subsequently charged with the death of his friend due to the suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, we see the foundation of what would become the defining moment of the season, and once again, it would not be a football play, but a response by a football nation.
On Friday, December 14, 2012, a lone gunmen walked into the halls of Shady Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT and begin shooting students and teachers. When things finally settled 27 people were dead; including 20 students (ranging in age from 6-7 years old), 6 adults (teachers), and the gunman. To say that this tragedy and the darkness that it has brought, not just to a small town, in a small state, but to an entire nation, has once again, put things in perspective, would be a gross understatement.
The most memorable moment in the NFL this year does not belong to a great hit, or a 100 yard kick return. It does not belong to a quarterback breaking some passing record. It is not concealed in the multitudinous conversations about head coach firings. No, it is embedded in something so much bigger than football; something that transcends any transitory elation that can be harnessed through a recreational sport in which billions of dollars are generated annually. There are many stories of triumph and tragedy each week in the NFL as careers are ignited and others come to an end, but this year, it is about a nation.
This week, across the nation, in football arenas filled with players that have developed reputations for being narcissistic and self-indulged, we saw players, and coaches alike, still reeling from two straight weeks of tragedy, set aside (if only for a moment) the thought of what would take place on that field and set their hearts on a little small town in Connecticut that will be forever changed. This weekend you were able to witness fans forget about ancient rivalries and focus on prayer and healing.
You were able to witness a special moment in which fans flooded into sports bars across America to watch one of the most exciting Sunday Night match ups of the season, as San Francisco came into Foxboro, MA to face the New England Patriots. Yet, when the President of the United States interrupted that game to address the families of the slain individuals, you could hear a pin drop.
Every stadium honored those who were slain and many could be seen praying for the survivors of these heroes. They are not victims. When you hear the stories of how even the little children took control and the adults took action, you will realize that 26 heroes will be buried over the next week or so. In a nation where so many look to professional athletes to set the standard and create inspiration. The nation will find inspiration from those that might be deemed ordinary among most, but they will be remembered for their exceptional bravery and poise in the most chaotic of circumstances.
The way the NFL showed class in stepping into the shadows of this great tragedy in order that a nation could grieve and make sense of the senseless is the greatest moment of the 2012 NFL season.