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Friday, March 25, 2005

INsite: The Pregame Tailgate (April 2005) 

(the April INsite hits stands next Tuesday, April 5)

The Pregame Tailgate
By Andrew Fox

So… TPT turns 28 this month! No, not the column, it’s just three-and-a-half. Your humble columnist, however, moves into the twilight of his 20s in just a few short weeks – the 18th to be exact.

To honor this momentous occasion, I’d like to look back at my lifetime in terms of the 28 most memorable sports moments that I can recall. Some rocked the sporting world, while others might only matter in my world. But in my almost three decades of existence, they’re what stand out the most.

28. Christian Laettner sinks Kentucky: Laettner’s amazing turnaround buzzer-beater sent Duke to the 1992 Final Four and is synonymous with March Madness. My friends and I tried it hundreds of times afterward, and it never seemed as easy as Laettner made it look.

27. Priest’s vault: Before Priest Holmes was an All-Pro Chief, he led Texas to the 1994 Sun Bowl championship. Trailing North Carolina late, Holmes soared from the five yard line for as picturesque a touchdown as Texas fans have ever seen.

26. Starks shoots blanks: Did Houston win the 1994 NBA title, or did the Knicks merely lose it? Starks’ series of missed lay-ups late in a Game Seven loss embodied his 2-for-18 effort.

25. Van de Meltdown: Jean Van de Velde’s three stroke lead on the 1999 British Open’s final hole seemed impossible to surrender. Yet the Frenchman did, triple bogeying his way into a playoff that he lost.

24. Panama’s swat: The tenth-seeded Longhorns stood one point from the 1990 Sweet Sixteen when No. 2 Purdue drove the lane for a final shot. It never came closer than Panama Myers’ palm.

23. No goal?: Dominik Hasek stymied the Dallas Stars for more than four periods in game seven of the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals. Brett Hull’s controversial goal ended that in double overtime.

22. T.J.’s heroics: T.J. Ford helped erase a double-digit deficit on the road against Oklahoma. His running floater in the waning moments iced the win, stunned the Sooners, and clinched a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tourney.

21. USA!: Shortly after America tied Canada late in 1996 Hockey World Cup’s final game, Tony Amonte broke free and blasted the puck past Martin Brodeur. The U.S. added two more goals in the stunning upset.

20. One more yard: Kevin Dyson’s reach proved just short as time expired in Super Bowl XXXIV. It will haunt Titans fans forever.

19. Berry’s stop: Facing a seventh straight loss to rival Texas A&M, Mark Berry saved the day for Texas. He denied A&M’s Darren Lewis of a two-point conversion with a stout open-field stop, preserving a 28-27 win.

18. Jordan’s final jumper: It wasn’t his last, but his last great moment – Michael Jordan shook off Bryon Russell in game six of the 1998 NBA Finals and nailed the nylon to clinch Chicago’s sixth world title.

17. Blood rivals: Colorado beat Detroit – literally – en route to the 1996 Stanley Cup. A year later Detroit returned the favor. Goalie Mike Vernon pummeled his counterpart, Patrick Roy, at mid-ice in the teams’ season finale, before later capturing the Cup.

16. Wide right: It was the best finish in the best Super Bowl. Buffalo’s Scott Norwood pushed his 40-yard field goal wide and New York claimed Super Bowl XXV.

15. No, Leon!: The game was long over, but everyone still watching will forever remember Leon Lett’s gaffe at the end of Super Bowl XXVII.

14. Throw the flag: Cowboys fans will also remember the pass interference that wasn’t. Deion denies it, but what he did to Michael Irvin late in the 1995 NFC Championship game is illegal in 49 states.

13. It’s gone!: Chris Carmichael’s home run in the 2002 College World Series championship was the moment we all knew the Horns were going to win a national championship.

12. Golden: The medals were gold and so were the shoes. But Michael Johnson’s 1996 Olympic performances? Those were timeless.

11. Swish: The Memorial Day Miracle was quite simply the biggest shot in San Antonio Spurs history. Sean Elliot’s buzzer-beater put the team up 2-0 in the 1999 conference finals and they didn’t look back from there.

10. Game seven magic: Luis Gonzalez’s 2001 World Series-winning single was more dramatic, but Brian Hunter’s similar feat in 1991 did the trick, too. They were the two best Fall Classics I’ve ever seen.

9. Chant: Beating Michigan State in 2003 wasn’t dramatic, but chanting “Final Four” with 30,000 Orangebloods in the Alamodome as the clock wound down certainly was.

8. Houston gets Randy Johnson: It was the deadline trade that we never saw coming. I went to sleep that July night in 1998 dreaming of the World Series.

7. Rosenblatt: Simply put, Omaha, Nebraska’s Rosenblatt Stadium is a cathedral for baseball lovers. Walking into it the first time was a religious experience.

6. 4th and Inches: For all his faults, John Mackovic has one set of brass cajones. The Longhorns coach called the perfect play to seal a Texas-sized upset in 1996’s inaugural Big XII Championship.

5. Tiger’s triumph: With his first green jacket all-but-secured, Tiger Woods marched down Augusta’s 18th fairway toward glory. The throngs of fans watching knew a legend was born that day in 1997.

4. 62: Steroids or not, Big Mac’s Maris-eclipsing line drive dinger was a piece of baseball history that will last forever, even if his record didn’t.

3. Coming up roses: For all of Vince Young’s dramatics, the moment of truth belonged to Dusty Mangum. His foot proved flawless in the biggest Longhorn win in three decades.

2. Ricky’s run: Before he was a punch line he was the best. For eight seconds on the way to the end zone, and college football’s most prized singular accomplishment, he was immortal.

1. Game five: Jeff Kent’s walk-off home run gave Houston a 3-2 lead in the 2004 NL Championship Series. “One more game,” he chanted, as he jumped into his teammates’ arms at home plate. If only it could have ended there.
Email TPT at drewfox@gmail.com


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