Today in Sports History: January 17th


(Junius Kellogg, a key player in the scandal, pictured middle left. Photo by AP)

1/17/1951 - Players arrested for game-fixing

On this day in 1951, two basketball players for Manhattan College -- Henry Poppe and Jack Byrnes -- and three bookmakers were arrested for conspiring to throw games. The testimony provided by the men, as well as the notoriety of the bookings, led to a chain reaction that uncovered the largest basketball scandal in collegiate history.

Most of the arrests could be atrributed to Junius Kellogg, a 6-foot-8 sophmore who was the first black athlete to receive a scholarship from Manhattan College. One day, Poppe came to Kellogg and gave him a proposition. Manhattan was a three-point underdog in their upcoming game against DePaul University; Poppe assured Junius that $1,000 were in it for him if he made sure they lost by five or six.

"I heard from other players that he had a problem with me being black," Kellogg told the New York Times in 1997. "This guy would pass me in the street and not even say so much as good morning. And all of a sudden he was acting like my best friend, and he had a deal for me. ... He offered me $1,000. I told him to get the hell out of my room."

Disturbed over what had just happened, Kellogg went to Mahattan coach Ken Norton, who in turn contacted District Attorney Frank Hofan. Kellogg was advised to pretend to take the deal and wore a wire when he eventually met with Poppe at a nearby bar. Kellogg was then instructed to make careless mistakes that would give DePaul an edge, but not to do anything obvious that would give them away.

"I didn't want to hurt the guy," Kellogg said, "but I had to do it. If at any time in the future that guy decided to tell someone he came to see me, my scholarship was gone."

When DePaul and Manhattan met on the basketball court, Kellogg was so rattled that he committed several unforced turnovers and was pulled after scoring only four points. The backup center, Charles Jennerich, made all eight of his field goal attempts and Manhattan won anyway, 62-59. Only a few hours later, Byrnes and Poppe -- two of the team's captains -- were apprehended by the police.

Frank Hofan continued to do some digging and eventually a whole slew of people were charged for their roles. When it was all said and done, 32 players from seven different schools were arrested for point-shaving. 20 of them were convicted, as were 14 gamblers. 86 games in 17 states had been fixed from 1947 to 1950. The scope of the scandal stunned eveybody; it even included three members of Adolph Rupp's 1949 championship Kentucky team. By far, though, the most devastating revelation involving the crime revolved around the City College of New York, who in 1950 had captured the city by winning both the N.I.T. and the NCAA championships -- a feat never to happen again. Seven players from that CCNY team, including all five starters, would admit to taking bribes from gamblers.

City College was banned from playing at Madison Square Garden and never again returned to respectability on the national scale. For years and years, the NCAA purposely avoided Madison Square Garden out of fear that gamblers could again get to the players. It wasn't until 1996, 46 years after CCNY won it all, that the Final Four returned to New York.


(O'Brien delivers the game-winning kick. Photo courtesy of SI Photos)

1/17/1971 - O'Brien kick ends lackluster Super Bowl

With five seconds remaining in regulation, Jim O'Brien of the Baltimore Colts converts a 32-yard field goal, giving the Baltimore Colts a 16-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl V. Midway through the second quarter, Colts starting quarterback Johnny Unitas went out with a rib injury and was replaced by Earl Morrall -- one of the most respected backups in history. Morrall had filled in full-time for Unitas back in 1968 and played well enough to win the league MVP award -- but he had played poorly in Super Bowl III and was largely blamed for their loss to the New York Jets. In Super Bowl V, Morrall helped lead the Colts back from a 13-6 halftime deficit, lifting the choke label off both him and the Colts.

Although the outcome wasn't decided until the final seconds, Super Bowl V is often referred to as the "Blunder Bowl" for the sloppy play put on by both teams. The Colts and Cowboys combined for 11 turnovers, seven which belonged to Baltimore. The Cowboys turned the ball over twice in the final five minutes of the game, setting up the Colts with a game-tying touchdown run and O'Brien's game-winning kick. The Associated Press described it as "a bizarre game that neither team seemed capable of winning."

"We were making so many mistakes, for a while it look like a rerun of 1969," said the 36 year-old Morrall, who was fortunate to have been given a shot at redemption. "This was a great lift to me personally. I can't forget the Jets game, but this one will stay with me forever."

To say that neither team played well would be an understatement. Unitas, before he went out, completed only three of nine passes and finished with a touchdown and two interceptions; Morrall went only 7-15 and threw a pick as well; Dallas quarterback Craig Morton threw a touchdown but completed only 12 of 26 passes and threw three interceptions; Cowboys back Walt Garrison led the game with 65 rushing yards and Colts wideout John Mackey led the game with 80 yards -- 75 of which had come on a tipped touchdown reception from Unitas. The game was so devoid of offensive stars that the game MVP went to Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley, who had two interceptions. It remains the only time the Super Bowl MVP went to a member of the losing team.

"The award is tremendous," Howley would say, "But I wish it were the world championship. They go hand in hand."

Howley would get his wish just one year later. In Super Bowl VI, the Cowboys made back-to-back appearances and throttled the Miami Dolphins, 24-3. The Cowboys would remain competitive for years after and won Super Bowl XII as well. The Colts, meanwhile, would fail to win another championship in Baltimore and did not win until 2007, when the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

1/17/1999 - Gary Anderson misses lone field goal

Vikings kicker Gary Anderson had a chance to send his team to the Super Bowl. He hadn't missed in the regular season, and he was perfect in the postseason. Unfortunately for him and Vikings fans, Anderson picked a hell of a time to miss his first field goal of the season. It allowed the Atlanta Falcons to go to overtime and win the NFC Championship Game.

To read more about this story, click here for an in-depth Inhistoric article:

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