Monday was the 30th anniversary of The Epic in Miami, a playoff showdown between the Chargers and the Dolphins that is widely considered the best NFL game of all time. The game had it all: an epic comeback, a series of clutch plays, a miracle hook-and-lateral at the end of the first half, an all-time great performance from Chargers tight end Kellen Winslow, and even a few missed field-goals that nearly pushed the game to double overtime. (If you're interesting in reading more about the game, I wrote a diddy about a few years back: 1/02/1982 - The Epic in Miami.)
However, there's one aspect of the Epic that's never made sense to me, and that is the widely-reported figure that Kellen Winslow lost 13 pounds during the course of the game. 13 pounds! Yeah, the game was played in the extreme humidity of the Orange Bowl, and it was a four-hour game, and Winslow caught 13 catches for 166 yards, blocked a field-goal, and played with a pinch nerve, a 105 degree temperature, a swollen eye, a split lip, an injured shoulder and cramps brought on by dehydration, and that he had to be carried off the field. But still... 13 pounds?
This isn't a Twitter-inspired, totally-unreliable factoid either. Here's a Washington Post column where it was noted in 1997. Here it is again in an ESPN25 retrospective column (which, I need to point out, misidentified Winslow as having 16 catches in the game). And here is an SI article and a New York Times article where he supposedly lost 12 pounds, and not 13. So am I really supposed to believe that this completely unbelievable figure is true, that in a four-hour period, Kellen Winslow lost the equivalent of 52 Quarter Pounders, that he basically gave birth to a pair of 6.5 pound sweat babies? (Or 6-pound sweat babies, depending on which version you believe.)
I'm skeptical. If he really did lose that much weight, then we truly are the dumbest country in the world, because the world's greatest weight loss program has been under our noses for 30 years, and we haven't utilized it at all. Sure, you may have to suffer a split lip and a few cramps and injuries along the way, but who can argue with the results? It's especially hard to take the number at full value because there are plenty of Chargers who, to this day, believe that Winslow was greatly exaggerating his injuries, with the cou de gras being the final moment when he appeared unable to stand on his own feet and had to be lifted off the field. Former San Diego linebacker Kim Bokamper expressed as much in 2006: "Every time I see it you wonder whether he should have gotten an Academy Award for the performance. It gnaws at some people, and it certainly gnaws at me."
But until the Academy awards Winslow an honorary Oscar, the credibility of the sources above push this story out of the myth category. It really is amazing that anyone could lose that much weight that quickly, assuming that it's true.