Today in Sports History: December 3rd

12/03/1985 - The Super Bowl Shuffle

Following a Monday Night Football loss to the Dolphins -- their only blemish of the season -- the 1985 Chicago Bears hopped on a charter plane, looking to restore the dignity and ferocity they had attained by winning their first dozen games. So what did they do? Well, what any team would do: they recorded an absurdly goofy rap song.

The intention was to cut a song where the proceeds would be donated to charity, or to "feed the needy." Ultimately, the team's attempt to come off as philanthropists was obscured by how ridiculous it was.

In order, Walter Payton, Willie Gault, Mike Singletary, Jim McMahon, Otis Wilson, Steve Fuller, Mike Richardson, Gary Fencik, and Refrigerator Perry stepped up to the mic. There are plenty of candidates for the most absurd performer: Payton for the line, "Running the ball is like making romance," McMahon for awkwardly gaping into the camera, or maybe its the numerous players who unconvincingly pretended to be playing instruments while barely twitching their fingers.

I imagine that whenever the Green Bay Packers are eliminated from contention, a group of Cheeseheads head down to the basement where they exhume a VHS of the Super Bowl Shuffle, insert it into a dusty VCR, and proceed to cheer themselves up. "Samurai Mike" and "Mama's Boy Otis" have never looked worse.

Aside from the cheesy music video, admittedly the song isn't that bad. It's certainly better than most athletes' attempt at cutting album (Shaq Fu: Da Return anyone?). The Shuffle became a monster hit and was nominated for "Best Rhythm" and "Best Blues Vocal Performance" at the Grammys, but lost to Prince and Revolution respectively. The exposure from their 15-1 record, coupled with the "Da Bears" skit on SNL, transformed the Chicago Bears into a media circus.

We need more sports teams to perform songs together. It doesn't even have to be original, let's just get them in a music video where they can karaoke the music. Let's get the Golden State Warriors to perform Manowar's "Warriors of the World United," with Andris Biedrins wailing away on guitar. Or maybe the Jets can sing Rockwell's "Sombody's Watching Me," with Eric Mangini singing in the shower.

By the way, the Chicago Bears were in no way the only sports team to release a song. In fact, the Bears' success led to a rash of team themes in the 1980's. If you ever need a pick-me-up, and you think that hearing Pat Riley or Jerry Rice or Eric Dickerson sing will do the trick, click on this link.

12/03/2007 - Pats narrowly keep perfect record alive

The New England Patriots, on a quest to prove that Spygate was not a defining incident, won every regular season game in 2007. And although they usually did it by crushing teams, they did have four close calls: Week 9 against the Colts, Week 12 against the Eagles, Week 17 against the Giants, and Week 13 against the Ravens. Even though the Ravens were by far the worst team of that bunch, and even though their coach -- Brian Billick -- would get fired on New Year's Eve, the Ravens gave New England easily their biggest scare of the year.

With only a few minutes to go in regulation, the Ravens had a 24-20 lead. On New England's final drive of the game, the Baltimore defense appeared to have the game wrapped up. With under two minutes to go, the Patriots were on the Baltimore 30-yard line on fourth-and-1. Tom Brady attempted a quarterback sneak and was stopped well behind the first down line, but just as the Ravens started to celebrate, the officials ruled the play dead. Their defensive coordinator, Rex Ryan, had called a timeout from the sideline before the start of the play.

The Ravens had the game in their hands again less than a minute later -- New England was on the Ravens' 13-yard line, but was on fourth-and-5. Brady's attempted pass to Benjamin Watson fell incomplete, but Ravens back Jamaine Winborne was called for holding on the play, giving the Patriots a new set of downs. On their next play, Brady capitalized by finding Jabar Gaffney in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown -- with only 44 seconds left in regulation, it was the Patriots' first lead of the second half.

New England's defense then stopped Baltimore to seal the victory, moving their record to 12-0. Afterward, many of the Ravens were crying foul, saying that the officials handed New England the game. Baltimore cornerback Samari Rolle was particularly angry, claiming that referee Phil McKinnely had called him "Boy" on the Pats' final drive. It was a tough loss for the Ravens, who would go 5-11 and would later supply the 1-15 Miami Dolphins with their only victory.

Also, the close game was a big hit for the game's carrier, ESPN. The Monday Night Football telecast drew 17.5 million viewers, making it the most watched cable event of all time, narrowly edging out a Disney Channel premier of High School Musical 2. This record would be broken only a year later, when 18.6 million people tuned in to see the Eagles face the Cowboys in the final MNF game at Texas Stadium.

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