On the TUNNEYSIDE of SPORTS September 26, 2016 #612 Up…A Moment in History
After further review…A variety of people, from Maya Angelou to George Carlin, have been credited with the saying: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take; life is measured by the moments that take our breath away.” Most of us have experienced those moments through the births of our children, the accomplishments of friends and loved ones, or other personal events that inspire and encourage. I’m sure you’ve had many.
As I watched the September 19, 2016 MNF game played between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, one of those moments was brought forward from my memory bank. While it pales in comparison to the transformative personal experiences described above, the memory of the “Fog Bowl” will forever be indelibly etched in my mind. It was Saturday, December 31, 1988 at Soldier Field in Chicago, in an NFC divisional playoff game.
The Eagles hadn’t done much in NFL playoffs since 1980, when Head Coach Dick Vermeil took them to Super Bowl XV, only to lose to the Oakland Raiders. Yet for this divisional game the Eagles arrived having won seven of their last eight games under Head Coach Buddy Ryan, who just two years earlier was the defensive guru with the Bears in their Super Bowl XX victory.
You can be certain of one thing in Chicago at time of year: the weather will be unpredictable! And it sure was! The day started out with beautiful weather. Kick off was scheduled for noon. Everything that morning at the stadium proceeded as it should, and the game got underway. However, at the two-minute notification in the second quarter with the Bears leading 17- 6, fog began to roll in from Lake Michigan, which is adjacent to Soldier Field. Somewhat thick fog, I thought, but nothing that would impact the play on the field. The first half ended with that score and we left for our dressing rooms.
As we began the second half the fog had completely blanked the entire field and the question became: do we continue or postpone? The NFL rule book places that responsibility in the hands of the referee, and that was me! This was a divisional playoff, with the winner advancing to the NFC conference championship next weekend, so the stakes were high. I conferred with both head coaches – Ryan of the Eagles and Mike Ditka of the Bears, as well as the NFL commissioner’s representative, Don Weiss, and they agreed with me that we should continue. Television cameras and fans in the seats struggled to make out what was happening in that second half, but on the field there was enough visibility to play football, excluding perhaps the deep passing game. Final score: Bears, 20, Eagles 12. It was a defining moment!
Will you enjoy and appreciate those “moments” that happen in your life?
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