The sports world is full of heroes. We like to remember the player who hits the game-winning home run. But there is always a flip side to some fans’ ecstasy.
Here are 10 sports figures who laid eggs at some point in their careers:
Scott Norwood, Buffalo Bills – Don’t mention this name if you ever go to Buffalo. In Super Bowl XXV, Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal as time expired. The miss gave the New York Giants a 20-19 win and started the Bills on the ignominious path of losing four consecutive Super Bowls.
Roberto De Vicenzo, PGA Tour – At the 1968 Masters, De Vicenzo came into the tournament as the reigning British Open champion. Unfortunately, he would leave as the perpetrator of one of golf’s most famous blunders. De Vicenzo shot a final-round score that would have tied him for the lead and put him in a playoff the following day. Instead, he signed for an incorrect score and finished second. Though he won over 200 tournaments worldwide and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1989, he will always be remembered for that incorrect scorecard.
Bill Buckner, Boston Red Sox – Two outs. Two strikes. World Series title in hand. Ground ball through Buckner’s legs. What else needs to be said?
Rick Ankiel, St. Louis Cardinals – Ankiel was a promising Cardinals starting pitcher in 2000. He won 11 games and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting. But in a playoff game against the Braves, he forgot how to throw strikes. In one inning he walked four batters and threw five wild pitches. He never recovered as a pitcher. To his credit, Ankiel started over as an outfielder and is still in the major leagues with the Washington Nationals.
Leon Lett, Dallas Cowboys – Though the play had no impact on the outcome of the game, Lett gave sports a memorable blunder in Super Bowl XXVII. Late in the game Lett recovered a fumble, but as he ran for a sure touchdown, he slowed as he neared the end zone. That allowed a hustling Don Beebe to catch him and swat the ball out of his hand, costing Lett a Super Bowl touchdown and promising decades of future jokes.
Terrell Owens, Philadelphia Eagles – It’s kind of hard to limit the blunders when it comes to Owens. In 2005, while whining for a new contract, he was kicked out of training camp by Eagles coach Andy Reid. He then thought it would be a good idea to conduct a press conference while shirtless and doing sit-ups in his driveway. Classy.
Ron Artest, Indiana Pacers – The image of Artest climbing into the stands to fight with fans is another enduring sports blunder. Not even changing his name to Metta World Peace is going to make that one go away.
Ralph Branca, Brooklyn Dodgers – Branca had a solid major league career. He was a 21-game winner for the Dodgers in 1947. Sadly, for him, nobody remembers that. They just remember him giving up one of the most famous home runs in baseball history. In 1951, Branca threw the pitch that Bobby Thompson crushed to give the Giants the NL pennant and created “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World.”
1964 Phillies, National League – Before the Red Sox and Braves crumbled and gave up huge leads in the wild-card races in 2011, the Phillies owned the biggest gag job for MLB teams. In 1964, the Phillies had a 6 1/2 game lead with 12 games to play in the battle for the National League pennant. The Phils then lost 10 of their final 12 games and were caught by the Cardinals, who then went on to beat the Yankees in the World Series.
Greg Norman, professional golfer – This one still pains me. I was a huge Greg Norman fan, and when, in 1996, he entered the final round of the Masters with a six-stroke lead, I thought his time for a green jacket had finally come. But Norman collapsed and shot a final-round 78, allowing Nick Faldo to win the tournament.
Brad Boeker watched every hole of Greg Norman’s 1996 Masters collapse. It still gives him nightmares.