14 Facts That Told Us Something New About Football
This week, we’ve been looking at football. It’s the sport of giant stadiums, passionate crowds, and severe brain injury.
Naturally, we’ve been thinking about football in pop culture, talking about football movies and fictional sports teams, as well as celebrities who played the sport. But you might also be interested in crazy stats or the history of football. There’ve been some crazy games, and some deadly games. And when we’re talking football players, we have to talk crime, including what O.J.’s been up to ... and also someone who did worse than what O.J. was accused of.
Here's a look back at the facts we learned this week. These short summaries are not meant to be appreciated by themselves—each one links to a full article we put out this past week with much more info, so click every one that interests you, or you’ll be benched for the rest of the season.
1. Wanted fugitives accepted free football tickets and were arrested.
Instead of hunting them down, the United States Marshals Service sent letters to the fugitives' last known addresses, telling them they’d won tickets to a Redskins game. The ruse fooled more than 100 criminals.
2. A real team called the Varsity Blues sued the film Varsity Blues.
That’s even though the team in the movie isn’t called the Varsity Blues at all (it’s just a phrase, about playing varsity). The real University of Toronto Varsity Blues also stood little chance of being mistaken for the fictional high school Texas team.
3. A couple different players with CTE have killed themselves.
By shooting themselves in the chest, not the head. Dave Duerson left a note saying, “Please, see that my brain is given to the NFL’s brain bank,” and studying it after death revealed that he did suffer suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
4. Actual Pittsburgh Steelers players acted as the football players in The Dark Knight Rises.
5. O.J. never paid his wrongful death judgment.
He owed $35 million (more than double that now, with interest), but he’s paid barely any of it, and Florida law protects his assets from seizure.
6. Soldier Field’s renovation got it delisted as a historical landmark.
Few people were fans of the overhaul, saying the new stadium looked like a spaceship had landed on it. That might sound like a compliment, but it wasn’t.
7. A college player holds the record for longest field goal.
In fact, even the record for longest field goal by a high schooler (68 yards) beats the NFL record (66 yards).
8. An NFL player died on the field, and everyone went on playing.
Chuck Hughes had a heart attack on the field with 62 seconds left on the clock, and no one called the game—they had to let the players back on the field till the clock ran out.
9. Joel McHale played in the Rose Bowl in college.
10. Super Bowl headliners don't make jack.
Performers like Eminem or Beyoncé are paid union scale (i.e., the same amount some background dancer in any concert makes). They still do it, happy for the chance to advertise their music so widely.
11. Fans first came up with the idea of sticking a radio in the QB’s helmet.
For a while, teams competed by building signal jammers to stop coaches from communicating with players—till they realized that signal jammers are illegal even outside football.
12. The biggest NFL game in history happened in Mexico City.
More people filled the stands for this preseason game in a Mexico City stadium than in any Super Bowl.
13. The big inspirational scene in Rudy was sarcastic.
In real life, players carried Rudy onto the field as a prank. Plus, at no point did players urge the coach to let him play—the coach was actually the one who supported Rudy.
14. An NFL player murdered four people in the ’80s.
Robert Rozier spent 10 years in prison for this, then got caught bouncing checks so got sentenced to a further 25-to-life.
Top image: Alexander Jonesi