Time to bring Club Seat’s “Top 5″ back in a big way, with the Top 5 Gutsiest Moments in Sports History! After watching Rajon Rondo’s miraculous return from a dislocated elbow that sparked the Boston Celtics to a game 3 win over the Miami Heat, it got me thinking about some of the other gutsy performances in sports history.
5. Brett Favre (December 22, 2003)
Say what you want about Brett Favre, but on this day I saw one of not only the greatest performances, but moments, in sports history. One day after his father passed away from a heart attack, Favre suited up to start at quarterback vs the Oakland Raiders. The sports world watched in awe as Favre played his heavy heart out throwing for 399 yards and 4 touchdowns, completing 73% of his passes with a passer rating of 154.9 (the highest of his career). The Packers won 41-7.
4. Michael Jordan (June 11, 1997)
The day before game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz, Michael Jordan was told by doctors that he had food poisoning and wouldn’t be able to play. Jordan had other plans. Looking very pale and lacking explosion, Jordan struggled in the 1st quarter before turning it up in the 2nd with 17 points. The sickness really got to him in the 3rd quarter, but he finished off the game in the 4th with 15 points along with a clutch 3-pointer with 30 seconds left to complete the unbelievable moment that he created just by starting this game. Jordan finished the game with a game high 38 points, with 5 assists, and 3 steals while playing 44 minutes. The Bulls won the game by 2 points and went on to win the NBA Championship.
3. Curt Schilling (October 19, 2004)
Curt Schilling and the Boston Red Sox won Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship Series vs the New York Yankees, 4-2. While the win was huge for Boston, the bigger story was Curt Schilling. Schilling tore his tendon sheath in his ankle during game 1 of the series, but a series of stitches allowed him to start game 6 without making the injury any worse. Although the pain from pushing off the pitcher’s mound was excruciating, Schilling fought through it. Blood began to soak up the sock over the ankle where Schilling had the medical procedure and he kept on pitching. He pitched 7 innings in all, giving up just 1 run on 4 hits while striking out 4. Curt Schilling got the win. The bloody sock is now in the Hall of Fame.
2. Byron Leftwich (November 2, 2002)
This MAC regular season game between Akron and Marshall turned into something much bigger. Marshall QB Byron Leftwich broke his left shin after being hit hard in the 1st quarter. Leftwich finished the touchdown drive, but had to be carried to the line of scrimmage by offensive linemen Stever Perretta and Steve Sciullo. It gets better. Leftwich left the stadium to get x-rays at the hospital, he then returned in the 3rd quarter limping and needing assistance from teammates, completing 14 of his 24 passes for 108 yards in the 2nd half to secure the 34-20 home win.
1. Kirk Gibson (October 15, 1988)
Club Seat’s number 1 gutsiest moment in sports history happened in the 1988 World Series between the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Dodgers. It was the bottom of the 9th and the Dodgers trailed 5-4. They had one man on base, but were down to their final out. The entire game Kirk Gibson could be seen sitting on the bench after telling his coach he was unable to play due to a stomach virus and injuries to both legs, but with his team on the verge of losing the first game of the World Series, Gibson told his coach he could bat. Gibson limped to the plate and dug in to face one of the most dominating closers of all time, Dennis Eckersley. After running the count full, Gibson unloaded on a pitch, hitting the ball over the right field fence for a homerun! Replays showed him hitting the ball using just one arm to swing the bat! Gibson limped around the bases in pain, but pumped his fists in excitement having just won the game! The Dodgers ended up going on to win the World Series, 4 games to 1.
There are so many great, influential performances that it is impossible to include them all. It is because of big moments from superstars like these that I am proud to say I am a sports fan. No matter which team you root for, a true sports fan can always appreciate moments like these.