Today in Sports History: October 14th

Joe Namath in 2008. (Photo by Jarrett Baker/Getty Images)

10/14/1970 - Namath debuts in C.C. & Company

New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath makes his theatrical debut with the release of C.C. & Company, in which Namath starred as a motorcycle rider -- C.C. Ryder -- who grapples with a rival bike gang after rescuing a damsel in distress. The movie was shot in Tucson, Arizona and the final showdown between Namath and the rival bike leader took place on the football field at the University of Arizona. It was not Namath's first attempt to translate his success on the field to the big screen; he had also appeared in the film Norwood, although it would be released after C.C.

C.C. & Company was critically panned as a knockoff of other open road movies. Movieline critic Edward Margulies called it a "laughable compendium of chopper cliches" that was written "about five seconds after Easy Rider became the number-one box-office smash all over the world." Leonard Maltin later gave it one and a half stars and commented, "Broadway Joe gets sacked in his first starring role." Vincent Canby of the New York Times was kinder to the film, writing, "Here, at last, is the picture to name when someone asks you to recommend 'a good bad movie.'"

Namath acted in a few more movies (among them The Last Rebel and Avalanche Express) before setting his eyes on television. He starred in the NBC series The Waverly Wonders about an ex-basketball star who coached a high school hoops team and taught history. Of the show, which lasted only five episodes before being canceled, AP writer Peter J. Boyer said it "made 'C.C. and Co.' look classic. It vanished, mercifully, after a few painful weeks."

In the 80's, Namath guest-acted on such series as Fantasy Island, The Love Boat and The A-Team, in an episode that also featured former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown. He also went into the Monday Night Football booth in 1985, but for only that season.

10/14/2002 - The Sharpie Incident

The San Francisco 49ers defeat the Seattle Seahawks, 28-21, on ABC's Monday Night Football. The headline of the game was not the score, however, but 49ers receiver Terrell Owens, who had reeled in the go-ahead fourth quarter touchdown after getting past Pro Bowl cornerback Shawn Springs. After scoring the TD, Owens pulled a Sharpie pen from his sock, autographed the football and then handed it to his financial adviser, Greg Eastman, who also happened to be Springs' financial adviser.

Never had an NFL player celebrated a score in such a staged, ostentatious way. Many purists were outraged, such as Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, who called the display "a dishonor to anyone who ever played this game."

"Some saw it as humorous and others as taunting," league spokesman Greg Aiello said. "If it happens again, the player who does it will receive an autographed letter from Gene Washington [the NFL executive in charge of discipline]. There is no fine this time, just a light warning."

In Owens' autobiography, Catch This!: Going Deep with the NFL's Sharpest Weapon, the wideout explained that Eastman had requested the ball be given to him after Owens scored a touchdown -- assuming he'd score one. The idea of signing the ball with a Sharpie didn't come to Owens "until the end of the third quarter," at which point he got the Sharpie from one of the equipment managers and hid it in his sock. "I tried tucking it up my shoelaces, but it didn't hold," Owens wrote, "and I couldn't wedge it down my pant leg, so I just stuck it in my sock, between my ankle and my Achilles. ... I thought about getting tackled and wondered if I could hurt myself or somebody else with it, but everything seemed to happen just right that evening."

Owens' Sharpie-signing was a celebration landmark. Although the NFL later banned players from using foreign objects on the field, fellow receivers were not deterred from trying to top Terrell Owens. In 2003, Joe Horn of the New Orleans Saints brandished a cell phone after scoring a touchdown, and was promptly fined $30,000. Chad Johnson of the Cincinnati Bengals emerged as a regular post-TD celebrator, and once held up a sign reading: "Dear NFL, PLEASE don't fine me AGAIN!!!!!" after scoring against Owens' 49ers. He was fined $10,000.

In an effort to curb the celebration trend, the league passed a rule in 2006 imposing a 15-yard penalty to players who used a prop or knelt down on the ground during the course of their celebration.

As for Sharpie, the company benefited greatly from Owens' pigskin autograph, which brought them a surge of free publicity. In 2003, they teamed up with Owens and pledged $500 to Alzheimers research for every touchdown T.O. recorded.

Further reading:

Amazon.com: Catch This!: Going Deep with the NFL's Sharpest Weapon

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