Did a Player Once Suffer a Career-Ending Injury on a Coin Toss?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the football urban legends featured so far.

FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: A player suffered a career ending injury walking back from a coin toss.

Albert “Turk” Edwards was a high profile offensive tackle coming out of college in 1932. An All-American for Washington State, Edwards had teams climbing over themselves to sign him. He ultimately signed with the Boston Braves, who changed their name in 1933 to the Boston Redskins and then moved to Washington in 1937.

Edwards spent his entire career playing for the Redskins, and upon his retirement in 1940, he became an assistant coach before finally becoming Head Coach in 1946. He retired in 1948, having spent all of his seventeen years in the NFL as a member of the Redskins organization.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969.

Edwards was a massive guy – Life Magazine even did a spread on him in 1938, spotlighting his size…

However, as you might imagine, size can have a major downside, and in Edwards’ case, it led to a bizarre career-ending injury.
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While Playing in the NBA, Did Dave Bing Go to Work for the Same Bank That Turned Him Down for a Loan?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about basketball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the basketball urban legends featured so far.

BASKETBALL URBAN LEGEND: While in the NBA, Dave Bing went to work for the same bank that denied him a mortgage for a house.

The NBA in the 1960s was a lot different than it is today, with one of the most important differences coming in the salary department. Players did not make nearly as much money then as they do now (even in context and with inflation taken into account).

However, even for the NBA of the 1960s, Dave Bing had a unique work ethic.

A star guard for the Detroit Pistons (he won the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1967), the future Basketball Hall of Famer attempted to get a mortgage for a home in 1968.

They turned him down, primarily because he had no credit history. What happened next was quite surprising…
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Did a Hockey Player Compete in the Stanley Cup Finals Six Weeks After Being Given Last Rites?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about hockey and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the hockey urban legends featured so far.

HOCKEY URBAN LEGEND: Six weeks after having Last Rites performed for him, a hockey player was playing in the Stanley Cup Finals!

Born in Montreal in 1931, Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion was able to live his dream and not only play for the Montreal Canadiens, but play with them on SIX Stanley Cup winning teams, including a remarkable five in a row from 1956-1960, the only NHL team to ever achieve such a feat!

If there was any sadness in Geoffrion’s playing career it was that he was often overshadowed by his famous teammates, especially fellow scorer Maurice “Rocket” Richard. Geoffrion was the second NHL player ever to score 50 goals! Richard, though, was the first. Geoffrion was actually BOOED by Canadien fans a year that Geoffrion passed Richard for the scoring lead late in the season (while Richard was serving a one-game suspension)! Ultimately, Geoffrion actually retired from the Canadiens while still in playing condition. He never admitted as much, but it most likely had to be the fact that the Captainship upon Richard’s retirement and Doug Harvey being traded went not to Geoffrion, but fellow star Jean Béliveau, who was not even an Alternate Captain at the time (these guys, of course, are all amazing players – Richard, Harvey, Béliveau and Geoffrion are ALL Hall of Famers). Geoffrion returned to the NHL a couple of years later and played two years for the New York Rangers.

In any event, while his teammates might have taken the spotlight from him at times, there were times that Geoffrion couldn’t help but stand out.
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How Did An Injured Rookie Nearly Destroy the NFL Draft?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the football urban legends featured so far.

FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: A lawsuit by an injured rookie very nearly eliminated the NFL draft!

James McCoy Smith (born in Yazoo City, Mississippi, which led to him getting the nickname “Yazoo”) was drafted in the first round by the Washington Redskins as the twelfth overall pick.

The defensive back signed for $50,000 and proceeded to suffer a neck injury in his first season in the NFL, ending his career as soon as it began.

Sounds familiar enough – plenty of sad stories like that in the NFL.

However, Smith decided to DO something about it.
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Did the Steelers Really Choose Mike Tomlin As Their Coach Over Ken Whisenhunt?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about football and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the football urban legends featured so far.

FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: The Pittsburgh Steelers chose Mike Tomlin for their head coaching job over Ken Whisenhunt.

This story really got a lot of play during the 2009 Super Bowl, as the Arizona Cardinals were pitted against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Whisenhunt had been a longtime assistant under legendary Steeler coach Bill Cowher, so when Mike Tomlin had gotten the job replacing Cowher, it was seen as though Tomlin was chosen for the position over Whisenhunt.

However, that’s not how the situation really unfolded.
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Did a Condom Company Come Out With a Series of Sports-Themed Condoms With Ted Williams’ Image On Them?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: A condom company used a drawing of Ted Williams’ picture to promote a sports-themed brand of condoms.

It’s a cool thing if your picture is used on the front of a box of Wheaties.

On a condom wrapper, not so much.

ESPECIALLY when you are not even reimbursed for the use!!!
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Was Ernie Banks the First Human to Appear in a TV Broadcast From the United States to Europe?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.

BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: Ernie Banks was the first TV image broadcast from the United States to Europe.

Sadly, Ernie Banks, one of the greatest baseball players of all-time, passed away Friday night at the age of 83. Known as “Mr. Cub,” Banks played 19 seasons for the Chicago Cubs, winning two MVPs (he’s part of one of my favorite baseball trivia questions ever – “There is a back-to-back MVP at every position on the diamond. Can you name them all?” Banks, of course, won his two at shortstop) and making fourteen All-Star teams (Banks played during the four-year period where there were two All-Star seasons per season, so Banks’ 14 All-Star appearances came in 11 different seasons). Reader Joshua P. wanted to know about an interesting legend involving Banks – was he really the first human to appear in a TV broadcast across the Atlantic from the United States to Europe?

Read on to find out!
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Did India Withdraw From the 1950 World Cup Because They Were Not Allowed to Play Barefoot?

SOCCER/FOOTBALL LEGEND: India withdrew from the 1950 World Cup because they were not allowed to play barefoot.

India surprised the world with their performance in the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, England. The Indian national football team, with every player playing without footwear (some players played in socks while most played barefoot), lost to France in the first round by the razor thin margin of 2-1 (and actually were tied with France at 1 all 70 minutes into the match) . This match already drew a great deal of attention as the 1948 Summer Olympics was the first time that India was performing in an international tournament as an independent nation (after gaining their independence from Great Britain). However, the fact that the Indian team did all of this in bare feet drew the most attention.

Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) made it clear to India that they would not be allowed to play in the 1950 FIFA World Cup without footwear. Then a curious thing happened. You see, when determining the make-up of the 1950 World Cup, FIFA determined that obviously the two defending finalists, Brazil and Italy, would be guaranteed spots. That left fourteen spots that needed to be filled. FIFA decided that seven of those spots would come from Europe, six would come from the Americas and one would come from Asia. The problem was that of the four Asian teams that were invited to the World Cup, three of them (the Philippines, Indonesia and Burma) withdrew from the tournament before the qualification round. Therefore, India earned an automatic spot within the World Cup. It would be India’s first time appearing in the World Cup (and, indeed, as of 2011 they still have never appeared in the World Cup), but India, too, withdrew from the tournament.

For years, the story has been that India withdrew from the World Cup because FIFA would not allow them to compete barefoot. Is that true? Let us find out!
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Was Pele Paid to Tie His Shoelaces at the 1970 World Cup?

SOCCER/FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: Pele was paid to tie his shoelaces in the 1970 World Cup Final.

Nowadays, the idea of athletes endorsing sneakers is well ingrained in the public consciousness. Seemingly every draft class in the NBA has at least one player sign an endorsement deal with one of the major sneaker companies in the United States. Heck, Al Harrington of the Washington Wizards even had a shoe deal a few years ago when he was on the New York Knicks! However, in the early days of the so-called “sneaker wars” between rival shoe companies Adidas and Puma, athlete endorsements were seen as a much bigger risk. As sneakers became a bigger part of the world of athletics in the years following World War II, which athletes wore Adidas and which wore Puma became a major part of the advertising arm of each of the two companies (which were formed by estranged brothers Adolf and Rudolf Dassler, respectively. I wrote about the origins of Adidas awhile back here) but as time went by, athletes were beginning to play the two companies against each other and the results were financially damaging. In addition, the companies began to spend too much time trying to one up each other. This was especially evident during the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City where Adidas actually had Puma sneakers confiscated by custom officials! Things had gotten so crazy that in the lead up to the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, the two companies (now run by the sons of the original founders) actually decided to come to a sort of “peace treaty” and to avoid the dealings that had marked their relationship for most of the 1960s. The most notable result of their interactions was the so-called “Pele Pact,” where both companies agreed NOT to sign a deal with Pele, the greatest football player in the world at the time. Their feeling was that they would both end up spending so much money on a bidding war that it would not be worth it in the end.

Led by Pele, Brazil’s 1970 national team was one of the greatest World Cup teams in the history of the tournament. They played Italy in the final match of the tournament. It was one of the most highly anticipated football matches in years. Right before the opening whistle, Pele asked the referee for a moment to tie his sneakers. All eyes were on Pele as he bent over to tie his sneakers….Puma sneakers.

What happened to the “Pele Pact”? Read on to find out…

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Did the Queen of England Give a Golden Whistle to a Linesman Who Made a Controversial Call in Favor of England in a World Cup Final?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the soccer/football urban legends featured so far.

SOCCER/FOOTBALL URBAN LEGEND: A linesman who made a controversial call on a goal in the World Cup final of England’s only World Cup victory was presented with a golden whistle by the Queen of England.

Tofik Bakhramov is one of the most notable figures in Azerbaijan sports history. Originally a football player himself, injuries led him to a career in refereeing, ultimately becoming one of the most notable referees FIFA had.

His strong reputation led to him being a linesman under head referee Gottfried Dienst in the 1966 World Cup Final between England and West Germany.

Late in the match, with the score tied 2-2, Geoff Hurst of England had a shot on goal that bounced off of the crossbar sharply downwards and then bounced away from the goal back into the field. Dienst did not see the play well and hesitated at first, but when Bakhramov signaled goal, Dienst ultimately agreed.

England would score one more goal for the victory and the World Cup title.

Naturally, English people loved Bakhramov and Germans hated him. As Azerbaijan was part of the Soviet Union at the time, Bakhramov began known as the “Russian judge.”

In any event, over the years, the story goes that Queen Elizabeth II presented Bakhramov with a golden whistle in honor of “services performed for England.”

Is it true?
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