This is the sixth in a series of examinations of football-related legends and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of all the previous football legends.
This installment is a re-format edition, so these legends have already been posted on this site, just not in this format.
FOOTBALL LEGEND: U2 effectively saved Canadian Football in Montreal.
Montreal has a long history associating with the Canadian Football League, but it was not always a successful one.
Montreal has had some form of a football team all the way back to the 19th Century. The team in Montreal was officially named the Alouettes in 1946 (which I believe translates to Skylarks in English), and was one of the founding members of the Canadian Football League in 1958.
The team played in the CFL for the next twenty-five years or so, and had some success, especially when owned by Sam Berger.
However, after Berger’s retirement, the team ultimately folded in 1981.
In 1982, a new Montreal team called the Montreal Concordes started up.
They only lasted a few seasons.
For the rest of the 1980s and most of the 1990s, Montreal was without a CFL team. It appeared as though Montreal just was not a huge fan of foobtall.
However, in 1996, due to the NFL Baltimore Ravens coming into existence, the CFL’s Baltimore Colts moved to Montreal, and became the NEW Montreal Alouettes (I discussed the CFL’s U.S. expansion in an earlier Sports Legend here).
The 1996 and 1997 seasons were not particularly popular ones for the Alouettes, and in particular, their home stadium, Olympic Stadium, was just not working out at all. The gigantic stadium had too many seats, the whole endeavor was kind of depressing, seeing so many empty seats. It looked like the team might have to fold, yet AGAIN.
Then a funny thing happened.
The Alouettes were scheduled to play a home playoff game in November 1997. They had not expected to be in the playoffs, so they had booked Olympic Stadium for a U2 concert.
Here is a bootleg CD cover of that concert, just for the hell of it….
Anyhow, with the Stadium booked up, the Alouettes were forced to move to Molson Stadium, the much-smaller stadium on McGill University’s campus that the Alouettes had played on during the 1950s and early 60s.
Well, the 20,000 seat stadium sold out (it WAS a playoff game) and all of a sudden, instead of being a little fish in a big pond, the Alouettes were now a big fish in a little pond, and that began to get them a lot of media coverage and increased fan interest.
The next season they decided to play in Molson Stadium, and every game sold out! And every game HAS sold out ever since!
In honor of the role U2 played in their renewed success, before every home game on Sunday, the team plays U2′s “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”
So while it is a BIT of a stretch to really credit U2, the Alouettes do, so that’s good enough for me to say it’s true!
FOOTBALL LEGEND: Pat Summerall got the name “Pat” from, of all things, his position as a kicker.
Pat Summerall is one of the all-time great broadcasters in National Football League history. After already being one of the best-known television personalities for CBS’ football coverage (first as an analyst and then, beginning in 1974, as a play-by-play man) for almost twenty years, most notably with Tom Brookshier, Summerrall was paired up with former Oakland Raider head coach John Madden. The pair soon became one of the most famous television broadcasting duos of all-time, working together from 1981 until 2001, when Summerrall retired from broadcasting (he has since been lured out of retirement a number of times). They stayed together even when CBS lost their coverage to Fox in 1991.
Here they are together (Summerall is one the right)…
Anyhow, Pat Summerall is one of the most recognizable names (and certainly he has one of the most recognizable voices) in sports, and yet, Pat is not his real name. In fact, PATRICK is not even his real name. No, Pat Summerall was born George Allen Summerall in Florida in 1930.
He played two seasons for the University of Arkansas and was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 1953 NFL draft.
After stints with the Lions and the Chicago Cardinals, Summerall came to the team where he would be most known for, the New York Giants, where he served as the placekicker for the 1958-1961 seasons. While with the Giants, he took part in the “Greatest Game Ever Played,” the 1958 NFL Championship Game between the Giants and the Baltimore Colts. The game was the first NFL game ever to go to a sudden death overtime. Think about that! The very first NFL game ever to go to sudden death overtime was also the CHAMPIONSHIP game of the NFL!!
That remains the only NFL Championship Game (including the Super Bowl) to ever go into sudden death overtime.
Here he is as a Giant…
That game is credited with helping to create the boom in popularity in the United States regarding the NFL, which continues today. In 1959, the season following “the Greatest Game Ever Played,” Summerall had his best season as a pro, and that’s where he got his nickname/name.
You see, people were just beginning to follow the Giants carefully, and in the box scores, when you write down the extra point kick that follows a touchdown, the notation is P.A.T. (Point After Touchdown). Well, Summerall would be listed as P.A.T. – Summerall. And the rest, as they say, is history!
FOOTBALL LEGEND: Boise State’s blue turf causes duck to think it is water, leading ducks to dive into the turf and die.
STATUS: Tentively False
Bronco Stadium, the current home of the Boise State Broncos, was built in 1970.
It was a typical large college stadium. A nice facility, but nothing really distinctive. That changed in 1986, when the school adopted a new sort of astroturf for the stadium – the turf was colored blue, the only stadium in Divison I in the NCAA to have a turf that color (heck, the only stadium with turf a color other than green).
Since it opened in 1986, a persistent story has sprung up – ducks, thinking that the blue turf is water, dive into the turf and are killed.
It’s not an all together ridiculous idea, as ducks and other birds ARE pretty dumb, and they’re certainly known to fly into glass windows not knowing that they are, you know, windows and not just air.
However, there has never been a recorded incident of a duck crashing into the turf.
That said, in 2007, Head Coach Chris Petersen said he discovered a dead duck at the stadium, but he does not know when or how the duck died.
So, it’s a tough one. I think the fact that no one in 23 years has been able to confirm it happened (and you would think that if it happened, SOMEone would have come out about it in over two decades!) is JUST enough to overcome the fact that Peterson DID find a dead duck at the stadium.
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org