20 NFL memories from the 2000s

26 12 2009

First, I hope you note the irony of this post’s title. There are “only” 19 videos here. I simply couldn’t think of a 20th. Maybe someone who reads this could suggest one.

Second, there are perhaps games or plays I enjoyed or thought were monumental that couldn’t reasonably be found on YouTube. I had to work through that.

Finally, these aren’t the greatest plays or anything. These videos represent a collaboration of NFL-related moments that I’ll think of when I remember the NFL from the past decade.

While this Super Bowl was technically apart of the 1999 season, it happened in 2000. That’s good enough for me to count it in this decade. Who could have thought at the time that an arguably better Super Bowl would be played in the last year of the same decade? (We’ll get to that later)

I have no idea if this occurred in the 2000s or in ’99, since that’s when Culpepper was drafted. All I know is Randy Moss is the best wide receiver of this decade, so he deserves one of his catches to be noted. Plus, I love Pat Summerall. He always sounded like he just polished off a bottle of Jameson right before the broadcast.

I’m calling this the greatest game of the 2000s for several reasons: It reminds us of how strong the Raiders were in the early part of this decade. Now look at ’em; when someone thinks of a NFL playoff game being played in the elements, this is probably what comes to mind; perhaps the NFL’s most talked-about rule this decade, the Tuck Rule, stemmed from this game; furthermore, this contest eventually launched the dynasty of the greatest franchise in this decade and started Boston’s run as the best sports city in the 2000s.

And this officially kicked off the Patriots dynasty. You have to love the commentary from Madden and Summerall. Not only do we get ‘before they were famous’ shots of Lovie Smith and Charlie Weis, we get Madden ultra-excited. He started littering compliments on the Patriots, especially Weis, whom he said was “letting it all hang out.” Pretty sure that comment and a picture of Fat Charlie Weis should never be included in the same sentence. That goes for Madden, too.

Before Devin Hester and Josh Cribbs, admittedly very cool muthafuckas, we had Dante Hall. What he did to the Broncos on this play is what every NFLer should strive to do to that crappy team every chance he gets. Is it even possible to pull off this move on Madden?

This symbolizes Philly’s relationship with McNabb for the entire decade.

I was a 49ers fan once upon a time before becoming a NFL fan free agent. Montana, Young, Rice, Craig, Waters, Taylor, Merton, Stubblefield, Hearst…I love ’em all. Even T.O. We 49ers fans at the time of this game, in 2003, were clinging onto the fading dynasty. The seams had already burst apart, but we still had room for one more playoff memory. (This season would represent the 49ers’ most recent playoff win and their most recent winning season. Yikes.)

I remember being in London at the time of this game. I was with a couple friends over college Winter Break, and I was watching this from roughly 2-5 in the morning, England-time. I couldn’t sleep at all after the game (far too much adrenaline) and ended up finally passing out the following night — after a full day of touristy stuff — during the opening moments of Les Miserables at some famous theatre in London.

Anyway, this game had tons of crazy moments, especially toward the end. Chris Collinsworth sounded like he was gonna try to run on the field and punch somebody. Plus, nobody could replicate Jim Fassel’s look at the end – just completely sedated. Okay, maybe Art Shell could pull it off. Actually, I’m certain he could pull it off.

I hate recognizing Vick for anything, but I can’t deny I’ll remember him as the guy who was supposed to change the QB position forever. This was the greatest glimpse at the player we all hoped he’d become.

Bad copy of this Harrison catch. We never knew much about Harrison beyond the field, which is why it seemed so odd for him to be linked to a murder in Philadelphia a year or so ago. Then we learned that he still hangs out at the same crappy bar in Philly’s projects, even acting as a roughneck at times. Hopefully he doesn’t end up dead before 45. In any case, we’ll remember him for catches like this and his chemistry with Peyton Manning.

Speak of the devil. Peyton is to be remembered for so much this decade. Incredible statistics; initial failures in the playoffs that led to A-Rod and Bonds comparisons of ‘great players who couldn’t get it done when it counted’ arguments; surprisingly funny commercials; a dominating Super Bowl win; his position as a Top 5 QB of all-time. Somehow, I want to remember him for this. He’s a leader, a whiner, a protagonist and a slob all in one moment.

Probably the funniest clip of the decade. I remember watching this game and admiring Hasselbeck for his tenacity to predict a win. Then he threw this INT on, I believe, the first or second play of OT and I was reminded how vital it is to shut the hell up before accomplishing something. Hasselbeck, you big mouth!

Marion the Barbarian was definitely my favorite runner of the decade. He might have been my favorite player, come to think of it. The rush against the Patriots at the 1:08 mark is one of the all-time great ‘effort’ plays in the history of sports.

Nike made some great NFL commercials during the decade. None got the hair raising on my arms as much as this one. The theme song from Last of the Mohicans was a great touch. The graphics and transitions are even better. Just an all-around great commercial.

This hit sums up the decade’s rivalry between the Steelers and Ravens pretty well.

One of those plays that you might watch happen live and still not believe happened even after it did. Like everyone else at this moment, I was certain Eli would be dragged down. Frankly, I was rooting for the Pats. Nothing gets me into sports more than a great player  or a great team working towards a particular milestone. Alas, those pesky New Yorkers had to finish first.

I don’t know what’s worse — that Orlovsky was so scared by Jared Allen’s mullet that he forgot endzones are just 10 yards deep, or that the color guy on this telecast had previously described Orlovsky as being ‘savvy.’ And if you’re gonna admit that stuff on-air, shouldn’t that be grounds for your network to fire your ass? Why admit to viewers that you previously called a guy ‘savvy’ moments after he made perhaps the goofiest play of the decade?

The obligatory Brett Favre video. I felt this was more symbolic of Favre than anything else. And to tell you the truth, it was the first vid that popped up when I searched for him, so I went with it. He somehow avoids the sack and fires a laser beam to the back of the end zone, placing it perfectly within reach of his receiver and out of reach of any defensive back. Great play from a great quarterback. Too bad the question posed on Favre’s career will be whether he was more legendary for his on-field ability or off-field drama.

It’s safe to call Adrian Peterson the best rusher of the decade. LaDanian Tomlinson and Chris Johnson could provide varying arguments. However, Tomlinson can’t play through injuries and Johnson has only speed, not power. Larry Johnson, Shaun Alexander, Clinton Portis and others didn’t have AP’s magic. Marshall Faulk in his prime was pretty magical, but he didn’t have the ability to ‘Jim Brown’ defenders like AP does. Or is he called AD, for All Day? We need a nickname for the guy.

We began the decade with a fantastic Super Bowl and we ended it just the same. Big Ben’s and Santonio’s pitch and catch essentially concluded the last Super Bowl of the 2000s, making it perhaps the greatest of all-time. (I obviously didn’t include James Harrison’s 100-yard INT TD return.) Love the throw, love the catch, love the feet, love the concentration. Love the NFL in the 2000s.

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