Moments turn heroes into legends

Sports have been, and always will be, defined by moments. These moments often come as quickly as a flick of a wrist or a tumble into the end zone. As a child, I fell in love with sports because of these acts of grace, skill and, sometimes, luck that come together to culminate into a lasting memory that transcends age and interests.

Growing up these moments included my parents’ story about hockey phenom Eric Lindros’ first home game as a Philadelphia Flyer, watching Donovan McNabb complete a 26-yard pass to Freddie Mitchell on 4th and 26 in the waning minutes of a Philadelphia Eagles playoff game against the Green Bay Packers and Allen Iverson stepping over Tyronn Lue after his crossover and three-pointer in the 2001 NBA finals against the Lakers.

As a graduating senior writing my final column for the Liberty Champion, it’s time to recap the greatest sports moments during my college career, from 2006 to 2010, from my point of view.

Philadelphia Phillies World Series

After 20 years of being broken by Philadelphia sports’ failures, chokes and missed opportunities, I finally got to celebrate my beloved Phillies World Series championship.

I skipped two days of classes to attend the World Series parade. I don’t remember the work I missed or the trouble it caused by falling behind, but I will never forget the experience I had standing right outside Citizens Bank Park watching the parade with friends and family. It was the greatest sporting moment of my life.

Tim Tebow’s Promise

Time might prove Tebow as the greatest college football player ever. Combining his athleticism, leadership and desire to win, the Florida Gators could claim this once-in-a-lifetime sporting specimen as their own.

His defining moment wasn’t one of his two championships, Heisman Trophy or a tremendous game performance. It came after a 31-30 loss to Mississippi, and will be remembered as The Promise, which is now inscribed on a plaque and posted on Florida’s on-campus football building.

“I promise you one thing. A lot of good will come out of this. You will never see any player in the entire country play as hard as I will play the rest of the season. You will never see someone push the rest of the team as hard as I will push everybody the rest of the season. You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season,” Tebow promised after the loss to Mississippi.

Michael Phelps, 2008 Olympics

Phelps’ dominance at the 2008 summer Olympics was nothing short of greatness. His Olympic record of eight gold medals and subsequent legendary status came after his two memorable moments.

His first moment came with the help of a teammate. Jason Lezak’s come-from-behind win in the last leg of the 4×100 relay to defeat France kept Phelps on pace for the his gold medal record. The second was Phelps fingertip finish to defeat Milorad Cavic in the 100m butterfly by .01 seconds.

Both finishes had me on the edge of my seat, holding my breathe for minutes at a time. If I get to witness another Olympic event with this much drama and excitement, I’ll be a content sports fan.

Super Bowl XLII

The New York Giants defeating the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl was one of the biggest upsets in football history, and its moment came with a helmet catch.

With the Patriots leading 14-10 and only 1:15 remaining in the game, Eli Manning spun out of the grasp of Jarvis Green, threw the ball downfield to David Tyree, who completed the 35-yard catch by pinning the ball on his helmet with one hand. The catch helped the Giants end the Patriots run at a perfect season with a 17-14 victory.

Team USA vs Team Canada, gold medal game

As disappointing as the end result was for America, the journey was worth it. If Team USA won the gold medal, it would have rivaled the 1980 Miracle on Ice in Olympic hockey lore.

Sidney Crosby cemented his legacy in Canada, though, by beating Ryan Miller with an overtime goal, giving the Canadians the 3-2 gold medal victory. Hockey hasn’t been this exciting in years, and this one game transcended nations in viewership and interest.

Honorable mentions

Tiger Woods winning the US Open Championship with a torn ACL and double stress fracture in a playoff against Rocco Mediate.

Boise State defeating Oklahoma with two trick plays in the Fiesta Bowl. The Broncos used a hook-and-ladder in the final minute of regulation to tie the game, and a Statue of Liberty to beat the Sooners in overtime.

Sports are identified by the moments that encompass it. These moments turn good players into heroes, and heroes into legends.

The Sandlot, a movie I grew up idolizing, said it best.

“Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered but legends never die.”

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