The Five: Five Coolest Sporting Events Seen Live

For this edition of “The Five”, I thought I would take a look at the five coolest sporting events I got to see live.  I’m a huge sports fan across the board and there’s a lot of games I’ve been to (and places/events I still want to see.  But up to this point, here are the five (in no particular order):

1.) AFC Wild Card Game January 8, 2000 Buffalo Bills vs. Tennessee Titans

The game that became known as the “Music City Miracle”.  It was my first ever NFL game in person.  It was a big enough event in and of itself being a playoff game and it being the hometown team.  Even more so to have an epic play that propelled the Titans on a playoff run into the Super Bowl.

2.) 2000 Conference USA Men’s Basketball Tournament Final March 11, 2000 Saint Louis vs. DePaul

This was cool for several reasons.  It was the first time I got to see Division I basketball and it was a conference tournament final.  Some friends of mine from college and I drove down to Memphis to see the game in the Pyramid.  The game wasn’t as memorable as just the experience with friends.

3.) Cleveland Indians vs. Kansas City Royals May 19, 2009

This was in a lot of way just a typical MLB regular season game but the circumstances behind the game and in the game make it memorable to me.  Earlier that month at seminary, there was a chapel that involved the manager at the time of the Kansas City Royals and the general manager.  There were some giveaways at that chapel and that included tickets to a game.  Well one of my friends ended up getting a four pack of tickets and asked some guy including me to go.  So this was the game the tickets were for.  The seats were lower level kinda near home plate not too far from the players’ families section.  During batting practice I ended up with a baseball and would later get it signed by the manager.  Then the game itself, the Royals were down three runs in the bottom of the 9th and scored 4 runs in the bottom of the ninth (including two back to back home runs, a walk, a triple and a sac fly) to win the game 6-5.

4.) Houston Texans vs Seattle Seahawks October 16, 2005

This was my first primetime NFL game that I got to see in person.  It was cool to see the Seahawks play in person during their first Super Bowl run.  I had gotten tickets from a friend of mine and was able to sit lower level right in the end zone where I got to see a lot of scores from the Seahawks

5.) Memphis Grizzlies vs Seattle Supersonics December 31, 2005

This was a great game not just because it was two of my favorite teams playing each other but it was also New Year’s Eve and after the game got to watch fireworks to ring in the new year at the Space Needle.

So that’s my five (for now).  What would be yours?

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Thoughts on the Retirement of Matt Hasselbeck

This week has seen a lot of retirements in the NFL.  Some that were pretty big names like Peyton Manning and Calvin Johnson.  But the announcement of the retirement of Matt Hasselbeck probably won’t get as much attention but is one that resonates with me.

Matt Hasselbeck

Flash back to the fall of 2005.  I had moved to Seattle in January of that year and had made it my home.  I had the opportunity to go to the Sunday Night game that season against the Houston Texans.  That was the first time I got to watch Hasselbeck play in person (and first time to see a Seahawks game in person).  That was one of the coolest experiences I have had at a sporting event and I still remember how loud it was when the Seahawks scored over and over again.  I fell in love with that team and that is why I still root for them to this day.  I also became a huge Hasselbeck fan.  He led the team that season to their first Super Bowl appearance (and I contend to this day that they should’ve won that Super Bowl if the refs hadn’t blown several big calls).  He was one of my favorite QBs and always enjoyed watching him play.

After he left Seattle, I was happy when he landed in Tennessee and played several seasons with the Titans.  And although he ended up finishing his career with division rival Indianapolis, I still rooted for him personally.

As great a player as he was, he was just as great if not more as a person.  He is a strong believer and follower of Jesus and lives out his faith in a way that is a strong encouragement.  He is a great family man as well.

He has a great opportunity joining the broadcast team at ESPN.  I wish him nothing but the best and know he’ll do a great job there.  Thank you Matt for a great career.  I cherish my Seahawks Hasselbeck jersey that is in my closet and still break it out sometimes for big time Seahawks games.  May God continue to bless you and your family and thank you for the wonderful memories that Seahawks fans will cherish for a long time.

Friday Favorites: Favorite Sporting Event Moment

It’s Friday again so thought I would share another “Friday Favorite”.  This week I thought I would share one of my favorite sporting event moments.  There’s a lot to choose from and I’m sure at some point I’ll mention more of them.  But if I had to share what my favorite moment at a sporting event that I attended, it would have to be the “Music City Miracle”.

For those that don’t know, the “Music City Miracle” was a play that happened during the NFL Wild Card Playoff Game between the Tennessee Titans and the Buffalo Bills.  It took place on January 8, 2000 in Nashville.  It was the first ever NFL game that I watched in person.  I was on winter break from college and I was able to get tickets.  I actually stood in line and bought them (well I stood in line inside a mall at a store that was a Ticketmaster outlet).

My dad and I went to the game and they were pretty good seats.  They were lower level near one of the end zones.  The game was fun.  It was cold (again it was January).  The Titans led most of the game.  However in the 4th quarter, the Bills made a dramatic drive down the field and were able to take the lead with a field goal with :16 seconds left.

It seemed like the playoffs were done before they really got going.  Then this play happened:

Now, my dad and I are sitting in the corner near the end zone away from this play.  If you’re looking on the TV screen, it would be the upper right corner around the 10-15 yard line or so.  So the play happens going the opposite direction for us.  What I remember from the game was this, I see the ball caught.  I see the ball thrown towards the opposite sideline.  I see player running.  The stadium gets louder and louder and when player reaches the endzone, everyone goes wild.

The longest wait was the wait for the replay.  The referee came to the area near where my dad and I were sitting.  And this was during a time when they didn’t show replays on the big screen.  But when the ref declared it was a lateral and a touchdown, the crowd erupted again.  It was the wildest thing I had ever seen and got to experience in person.  I taped the game (on VHS) and later went back to watch it and see everything as far as the camera angles and such.  On the drive home, I got to hear the radio call, which has become famous.

Probably the only way to top that experience for me would be to be at championship event and my team wins.  Besides that, this has to be my favorite sporting event experience.

The Music City Miracle: 15th Anniversary

Another two post day but again there’s significance in that.  Today is January 8th.  Fifteen years ago today was the NFL AFC Wild Card Playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and the Tennessee Titans.  It is a well known game for a play, the Music City Miracle.  And it happened to be the first NFL game I ever attended.

The story about me being at the game goes like this.  The 1999 season was during my Sophomore year of college at Union University.  The Titans had just changed their name and logo from the Oilers after having moved from Houston a few years prior.  And they were having a great season.  Up to that point, I had never been to an NFL game, even when the then Oilers played in Memphis at the Liberty Bowl or at Dudley Field at Vanderbilt.  And while I was in college for the most part I was in Jackson.

However, I was on winter break (Union has a January term and I wasn’t taking classes that January) so I was back home with family.  When the Titans made the playoffs, I made it a point to try and get tickets.  So when they went on sale the week before the game, I went down to the local mall (named Shady Brook Mall at the time) and went to stand in line.  The Ticketmaster outlet in the mall was a music store and they were giving people numbers prior to the start of selling tickets.  They then randomly drew a number and that person was the head of the line.  When they drew the numbers, I was fortunate to be close enough that I was able to buy 2 tickets, and they were lower level tickets to boot.

The game was on Saturday afternoon and my dad and I went up to Nashville.  We parked over at Greer Stadium, the Nashville Sounds (old) stadium and took a bus over to Adelphia Coliseum (now known as LP Field).  We made our way to our seats and found we were sitting near the end zone (I believe it’s the South end zone).  I remember we were sitting next to this big guy who talked to us throughout the game and was funny.  The stadium was loud and rocking.  The game was back and forth.  Unfortunately most of the scoring was happening on the other end of the field.

That changed late in the 4th quarter when the Bills drove down and kicked a field goal to take the lead.  For the most part, the Titans were in control and winning but that score with about :16 seconds left was tough.  Our friend who was sitting next to us left as did several others but me and my dad stayed put.  That’s something that has always stuck with me, to stay through to the end of a game.  And sure enough that paid off.

From where we were sitting we could see the kick and that Frank Wycheck, the tight end who happened to be out there on kickoff return throw across the field to Kevin Dyson, the receiver on the other end.  Then it seemed like this swarm of blockers out of nowhere started blocking as he ran on the other side of the field down the sidelines away from us into the endzone.  As he ran, the stadium got louder and louder until he reached the endzone and then it was wild.  We all then had to wait for the review to make sure it stood.  In our minds it was a lateral (wouldn’t be until later when got home and watched replays did we know there was any fuss).  The replay booth was in the corner of the sidelines near where we sat so we could see the ref run to the booth and go inside and check and then came out and announced it was a touchdown.  The stadium erupted again when the announcement was made.  The Titans would go on to win the game and would eventually get to the Super Bowl.

Fifteen years later, that is still a cool memory I have of being at that game (by the way I have proof because I still have the ticket stub from the game).  Here’s the end of the game with the TV broadcast along with a video with the Titans Radio crew: