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5 Dumb Ways People Have Won at Sports

#2. Winning an Auto Race by Shutting Off Your Engine

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The rules of auto racing are, on the surface, simpler than those of any other sport: go fast. That's pretty much it. Also, don't turn right unless your goal is to end your life in the most SportsCenter-ready way imaginable. As long as you keep turning left and keep going faster and faster, you'll win. And few were faster than Ned Jarrett. During the 1965 Southern 500, Jarrett managed to not only defeat but obliterate his competition, earning the largest margin of victory in NASCAR history. And he did it by shutting off his engine. Over and over again.

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It's a technique anyone who's ever owned an '86 El Camino can endorse.

This all started because Ford, the company hired to build the race cars, sucked at its job. They decided to experiment with some brand-new radiators that year but didn't bother to test them before the race (because other than overheating and/or exploding at the worst possible moment, what's the worst that could possibly happen?). Sure enough, the new radiators had a problem with track debris (such as bits of tire) getting stuck in them, causing them to overheat.

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Man up, Ford; it's just a little road grit.

Forced to either face flaming doom or slow down and attempt to cool off their engines, the drivers chose to slow down. Again, even a non-fan can see how this would impede a NASCAR race somewhat.

Jarrett, however, opted for another, more ridiculous strategy: shut that shit down. Basically, as he headed into the turns, instead of just decelerating/braking, he turned off his engine completely. This cooled down his engine by roughly 25 degrees, and then when he came out of the turn he just cranked it up again and headed down the straightaway under power. He actually kept his foot on the gas pedal the whole time the engine was off (meaning gasoline was still flowing into the engine, just not combusting), which meant he got a huge backfire every time he turned the engine back on. The crowd probably thought he was doing a drive-by shooting.

NASCAR
Nothing says "drive-by" like proper safety gear.

So, by sheer virtue of not having his car melt down like the rest of the racers, Jarrett won hands down, 19 miles ahead of his nearest competitor. All by violating what probably has to be Rule #1 in race car driving school.

#1. Winning a Football Game by Fumbling the Football Over and Over

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Here's the scenario: You're a football team losing by six with 10 seconds to go. The good news is that you're on the other team's 15-yard line. The bad news is that you only have time for one play and your offensive line is apparently made out of tissue paper. Sure enough, when the ball is snapped, the other team easily breaks through and makes a beeline for your quarterback, who, in a panic, fumbles the ball.

Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
Just try not to think about the thousand pounds of angry linemen next time.

At this point we're going to bet that the stat geeks would peg the odds of winning that game at somewhere around .0001 percent. Well, that laughably rare scenario came to pass in 1978 in one of the most ridiculous plays in NFL history.

The Oakland Raiders were down 20-14 against the San Diego Chargers as they lined up for the final, desperate play of the game. Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler suddenly found himself face-to-faces with a half-dozen pissed-off Chargers. Out of legitimate options and about to experience the most painful bear hug in history, Stabler chucked the ball to the ground at the last second.

But unlike most players who puke up the ball at the worst possible time, Stabler did this entirely on purpose. Fellow Raider Pete Banaszak grabbed the ball and, after using his secret psychic abilities to pick up on Stabler's improv showcase, fumbled it in the direction of yet another Raider, Dave Casper. Casper capped off the intentional clusterfuck by rolling the ball into the end zone like a dung beetle with a tiny football-shaped poop, then dove on it for a touchdown to tie the game. The extra point gave the Raiders an improbable 21-20 win.

Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
There's a reason why "Touchdown" and "What the fuck?" are represented by the same gesture.

The play has since been dubbed the Holy Roller, which admittedly rolls off the tongue a lot smoother than "Huh, wha, guh -- HOW?" It was such an unprecedented, unorthodox way to win that even Raiders coach John Madden couldn't believe it worked -- his questioning of the officials afterward prompted the announcer to yell "Yes (it worked), get your big butt out of here!"

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty

"Take your Tinactin and go, John."

We know what you're thinking: "Why don't teams just do that on literally every play! I'd never miss a game of that shit!" The answer is that the NFL immediately changed their rules so that only the quarterback could advance a fumble going forward. This was probably due to Stabler opening his big stupid mouth and admitting that he fumbled on purpose, furthering our theory that every athlete should be forced to hand over his voice box to Ursula the Sea Witch right after being drafted. You just had to go and ruin it for everyone else, didn't you?


Xavier Jackson has a Facebook page for liking and an email at XavierJacksonCracked@gmail.com for bitching.

Related Reading: The funniest part of youth athletic competitions are the parents who take them much too seriously. Like the dad who tipped the scales in his kid's team's favor by blinding the opposing team members with a laser. If pathetic abuses of power in sporting are more your bag, read about Ted Turner's day managing a baseball team. Last, check out these recklessly extreme versions of already extreme sports.

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