David Bruce: The Funniest People in Sports, Volume 2: 250 Anecdotes — Football, Friends, Gambling

Football

• Women do play professional tackle football, although probably no one makes a living—or even a profit—from it. For example, in 2006 the New York Sharks had an annual budget of $85,000. According to team owner Andra Douglas, about half of the budget “comes from the National Bank of Andra.” Players have to raise money to be on the team, and in 2006 the grand total of $5,000 went to the team’s six coaches. According to Ms. Douglas, this money “probably covered their gas and tolls.” Sponsors of the team tend to be, Ms. Douglas says, “mom-and-pop shops—people we know.” Obviously, everyone on the team is involved because of love of the sport.

• In 1940, the Chicago Bears battled the Washington Redskins for the world football championship. Just three weeks earlier, the Redskins had defeated the Bears, 7-3. This time, however, the Bears won in a stunningly lopsided upset, 73-0. The offense of the Bears was so powerful that late in the game, when the Bears were preparing to kick for yet another point after yet another touchdown, a referee begged them, “Look, fellers! Already, you’ve kicked so many balls into the stands that now we have only one left. How about passing or running with the ball for the extra point? Otherwise, we won’t have a ball to play with to finish the game.”

• On October 7, 1916, Georgia Tech defeated Cumberland University 222-0 in a football game. Near the end of the game, the Cumberland quarterback, Ed Edwards, fumbled the ball and yelled at his teammates, “Pick it up! Pick it up!” Seeing the fearsome Georgia Tech players bearing down on the ball, Cumberland fullback Leon McDonald yelled back, “Pick it up yourself—you dropped it.”

• Someone once called in to speak to the coach of Louisiana State University football game on a talk show. The caller asked, “Who was that knucklehead who missed the field goal at the end of the game?” The coach was loyal to his players, and he replied, “One of the young men I coach, and we both are going to try to do better next time.”

• Although the forward pass in football became legal in 1906, at first it was not much used. However, in 1913, Notre Dame played against Army, a team with much bigger and much stronger players. Rushing was not effective against such a physically superior team, so the Notre Dame team started throwing the forward pass—and won, 35-13.

Friends

• Violinist Jacques Thibaud once made a hole in one—or at least he thought he had. After Mr. Thibaud died in an airplane accident in 1953, the truth came out. He had been playing golf with conductor Pierre Monteux, who walked ahead of the other golfers. Seeing that Mr. Thibaud’s ball was very near the hole, and knowing that no one could see him, Mr. Monteux picked the ball up and dropped it in the hole. Mr. Thibaud was so happy at having made a hole in one that Mr. Monteux could not tell him what he had done.

• In 2001, Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs to break the single-season home-run record set by Mark McGwire; however, by doing so, he lost a $100,000 bet. Early in the season, friend and teammate Shawon Dunston suggested that Mr. Bonds might break Mr. McGwire’s record that season. Mr. Bonds did not think that was possible, and Mr. Dunston suggested that if he broke the record then he could buy him a brand-new Mercedes-Benz. Mr. Bonds, of course, broke the record, and he did buy Mr. Dunston a $100,000 Mercedes Benz.

Gambling

• As a boy, writer Bill Barich was friends with another boy named Eddie Greco, who worked in a restaurant frequented by people who raced horses for a living. They gave Eddie tips—tips that paid off when gambling. Eddie passed the tips on to Bill, and Bill started gambling. Oddly, he discovered that when he placed a bet, no one at the gambling counter ever checked his ID to make sure that he was old enough to legally gamble; however, when he tried to cash in a winning ticket and pick up his winnings, the person at the gambling counter always checked his ID. This led to Bill looking around for a friendly adult to cash in his ticket—and NOT ask for a cut. (Uniformed sailors were very helpful in this regard.)

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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