Today in Sports History: January 9th

Randy Moss pretends to moon the crowd at Lambeau Field. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

1/09/1953 - Francis scores 116

6-foot-9-inch Clarence "Bevo" Francis, a freshman center for Rio Grande, scores 116 points against Ashland college, setting a new collegiate single-game scoring record. Francis had 61 points through three 10-minute quarters and turned it on down the stretch, scoring all 55 of his team's points in the fourth period, as Rio Grande sailed to a 150-85 victory. Francis thoroughly outdistanced the previous record of 87 points, which had been set in 1941 by Jack Duncan of, coincidentally, Rio Grande.

"By the third shot, I knew I was on to something special," Francis recalled in the book ESPN College Basketball Encyclopedia: The Complete History of the Men's Game. "I didn't know I was going to score 116 points. My teammates would check the scoreboard more than I would."

Francis was an unlikely candidate to be the first to score 100 in a college game. When he was ten, he was so ailed by anemia that he had to be carried to the bathtub, and he had only one year of high school ball under his belt. He had passed up 60 different universities before finally settling on Rio Grande, a small Division II school that had only 94 full-time students. And yet it was there all of places that he became the leading scorer in the nation. Francis averaged 50.1 per game that year, and Rio Grande went 39-0.

But Bevo's accomplishment was short-lived. Later that year, the NCAA revoked his 116-point game from the record book, citing that Ashland was only a two-year college and thus an unfair opponent. Jack Duncan's 87-point game was disavowed for the same reason. However, barely a year later, Francis totaled 113 points against Hillsdale, a four-year school. This time the record counted and remains the most a player has ever scored in an NCAA game.

1/09/1963 - Modell fires Paul Brown

After 17 years as the coach of the Cleveland Browns, Paul Brown is fired from the franchise he both founded and named.

Brown had amassed an exceptional track record in Cleveland, guiding his team to seven championship games and winning three of them; only once in his 17 years did the Browns have a losing record. He had even picked the name "Browns" after the organization drew a name-the-team contest in 1946. The team was originally slated to be the "Cleveland Panthers," however when the franchise learned that a semipro club of the same name existed, a new contest was drawn and the name "Brown Bombers" was selected. Brown then shortened it to match his last name.

While Paul's success was inarguable, his coaching methods -- which included directing every offensive play from the sideline -- had irked many of the Browns personnel, particularly Art Modell, the Browns' new, brash owner. Jim Brown, the team's star running back, said in 1964 that his six years under Paul Brown "were as much as I could stomach." And yet, even though there was dissension on the Browns' sideline, and even though they were coming off a mediocre 7-6-1 season, the announcement of his firing came as a stunner, particularly to the man who thought his job was perfectly secured.

"I'm on the shelf now... a vice president in charge of I-don't-know-what," Brown told the Associated Press the next day. "I know this happens to other people, but I never thought of it in my own regard. ... Art Modell had a legal right to do what he did. It did come as a shock and surprise to me, however."

Brown was kept on as the team's vice president, though he was so upset at Modell's decision that he never again worked with the team, or even approached the Browns' front office; his salary, which included his 10% share of the team, was mailed to him until 1967 -- the same year he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame -- when he chose to own and coach the newly-christened Cincinnati Bengals, who became the Browns' local enemies in the state of Ohio.

"It was terrible," Brown said of his time away from football in his autobiography, PB: The Paul Brown Story. "I had everything a man could want: leisure, enough money, a wonderful family. Yet with all that, I was eating my heart out."

"It was an unpleasant episode and I only regret that it did not work between us because he was truly a giant in this sport," Modell told the New York Times in 1991. "There were a number of reasons it didn't work, but some had to do with the fact that I was 35 and the owner and he was 53 or 54 and had been the head coach and a legend here for many years."

Brown's replacement in Cleveland, Ohio was Blanton Collier, who was the team's backfield coach and who had spent eight years as the coach of Kentucky's football program. Under Collier, the Browns went 76-34, never had a losing record and won an NFL title in 1964. He retired in 1970 after eight seasons.

 (The final score of the January 1972 meeting between the Bucks and Lakers. Screengrab courtesy of jwparrott11/ABC Sports)

1/09/1972 - 33-game winning streak ends

The Milwaukee Bucks defeat the Los Angeles Lakers, 120-104, and end the longest winning streak in professional sports history. Bucks center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar dominated Lakers superstar Wilt Chamberlain, notching 39 points, 20 rebounds and 10 blocks in one of the best performances of his career. The Lakers, who had won their previous 33 games and hadn't lost since Oct. 31, had captivated basketball fans as they extended their streak farther and farther beyond the previous record of 20.

"We played fantastic for two and a half months, and it had to end, but I hope we're smart enough to learn by our mistakes so we can play better against them next time," Lakers coach Bill Sharman said.

"We're the world champions, and they aren't," said Bucks coach Larry Costello, referencing his team's 1971 championship. "It was defense. Our defense was great throughout. Everybody was playing defense, and you need a team effort."

1972 was a phenomenal year for the Los Angeles Lakers, who, besides winning a record 33 in a row, finished with a then-record 69 wins and captured the NBA championship that May. And no one had a better year than Lakers guard Jerry West, who at last won an NBA title after seven failed attempts; West was also named the MVP of that year's All-Star Game and was even announced as the model of the new NBA logo, which commemorated the 25th anniversary of the league.

1/09/2005 - Moss pretends to moon crowd

In the wildcard round of the 2004 playoffs, the Minnesota Vikings -- who sneaked into the playoffs with an 8-8 record -- upset the Green Bay Packers, 31-17, at Lambeau Field. The clincher for Minnesota was a fourth quarter touchdown by star receiver Randy Moss, who crossed into the end zone with a little over 10 minutes to go. Following the score, Moss pretended to pull his pants down and moon the Wisconsin crowd. Fox play-by-play man Joe Buck, after watching the mock-mooning, expressed his outrage: "That is a disgusting act by Randy Moss, and it's unfortunate that we had that on our air live. That is disgusting!"

ESPN, siding with the putridity of the act, omitted Moss' celebration from the game's highlight reel for an entire day. When they did show it, Moss was criticized by many analysts who saw it as further proof that he was unprofessional. Just a week earlier, Moss had walked off the field with time remaining in a game the Vikings ultimately lost, an act that CBS' Boomer Esiason had called "reprehensible."

"Randy Moss is a dolt," wrote Leonard Shapiro of the Washington Post. "Granted, he is arguably the NFL's most dangerous offensive player, but a man/child who already has tarnished what should have been a brilliant legacy with one moronic display after another? ... The last two weeks have seen Moss at his worst, and best, and worst."

Those who defended Moss pointed out that he didn't actually moon anyone -- he pretended to -- and that Packer fans were often guilty of doing the same thing. "It's not the kind of thing you want to see on national TV," Colts coach Tony Dungy conceded, "but I understand what it was all about ... Anyone who has played in the NFC Central knows what that's about. The fans in Green Bay have a tradition in the parking lot after the game where they moon the visiting team's bus. It's kind of a unique sendoff."

Additionally, Inside the NFL host Cris Collinsworth, and Joe Buck's partner during the game, claimed that Packer fans had pointed racial slurs at Moss prior to the kick-off. "There were some racial comments (from fans, directed at Moss) along the lines of '(Hey) Buckwheat' and other things," Collinsworth said. "It was pretty crude going both ways."

Nonetheless, Moss was given a fine of $10,000 -- an enormous amount of money to most Americans. But when Randy was later interviewed in a parking lot about how he was going to pay the fine, Moss made it clear that he wasn't devastated by the 10-grand penalty:

Reporter: "Write the check yet, Randy?"

Moss: "When you're rich you don't write checks."

Reporter: "If you don't write checks, how do you pay these guys?"

Moss: "Straight cash, homey."

Reporter: "Randy, are you upset about the fine?"

Moss: "No, cause it ain't [expletive]. Ain't nothing but 10 grand. What's 10 grand to me? Ain't [expletive] … Next time I might shake my [expletive]."

The following week, the Vikings lost to the Philadelphia Eagles, 27-14, in the divisional round. The Eagles would get as far as the final game before losing to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX.

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