Sunday, December 31, 2006

MSD Top 10 Miami Sports Stories of 2006: 2.

Well, it’s late December which means it’s the time for television shows, magazines, websites and blogs to present their obligatory 2006 Best Of … lists. And the MSD is no exception. So, here is the Miami Sports Dude’s Top 10 Miami Sports Stories of 2006. I’ll be counting down the top ten from 10 to 1 in the next two weeks. And remember, there is to be no wagering of any kind ... and now, on with the countdown ...

#2. Brawl At The Orange Bowl

Every now and then there comes a time in Miami sports history that transcends an era. A moment that halts time and exceeds generational gaps with the brilliance that is sports performance and competition. A moment that encapsulates poetry in motion and the sheer determination of man’s ultimate test of strength and will.

This was not one of those times.

The on-field brawl that took place at the Orange Bowl between University of Miami and Florida International University football players was one of the darkest moments in Miami sports history. The darkness I’m talking about can be viewed two different ways – it can be darkly humiliating or darkly humorous. It all depends on your point of view.

I never wrote about it here because I wasn’t sure what to write. But the fact is, I was actually at that game. My girlfriend is a senior at FIU and she was able to get two tickets for us. We thought it would be cute to go as rival couples – her in her blue Golden Panthers shirt and me in my orange Canes jersey. Well, she thought it would be cute. I thought it was a quick and easy way to watch a Hurricanes football game at the Bowl for free and then get laid later that night. But I was also ready to kick some inferior ass and talk some serious shit afterwards at the risk of being dumped by a really hot chick with a fantastic set of cans.

But what was supposed to be a nice night out the old Orange Bowl to watch a friendly match between two schools that reside mere miles away from each other quickly turned into Thunderdome.

The one thing I remember was a bit of chippyness from the FIU players early on in the game. I remember laughing to myself and thinking: How cute. The FIU players are mad and trying to be all tough n’stuff. Tee hee.

Then I remember seeing our place holder being thrown backwards after we scored a TD. Then I remember seeing a throng of players from both sidelines rushing the field like those kilt wearing dudes in Braveheart.

Then I remember just watching it all unfold with slack jaw and wide eyes. When the fight didn’t subside, I knew we were witnessing something distinctive. Something infamous. I knew we were going to be the Sports Center headline and the first post on all the major sports news websites. And I remember just being embarrassed. I couldn’t help it. I was embarrassed. Embarrassed to be a Canes fan and embarrassed to be a Miami sports fan. For Miami sports fans, this was our version of the ‘hanging chad.’ A moment that will resonate over time and make us a laughing stock across America.

Son of a bitch!

It was amazing how the entire stadium seemed to buzz with bad blood as the fight spilled over on the field below. Fights began to spread among the fans and the stands literally began to tremble under our feet. People turned into animals. Of course, it doesn’t help when they’re all smashed. But it was like the crowd began to morph with the players and the stadium was one gigantic caged death-match. It had a very apocalyptic feel to it. This was what anarchy feels like. This is what animals do when they’re caged and riled up. It was a surreal scene.

As far as the incident was concerned -- I knew that, in the end, even though the fight was clearly started by the FIU players – it was the Hurricanes that were going to be crucified over this. After all, they’re the college football thugs. They’re the criminal punks. It was all at once embarrassing, infuriating and perplexing.

I have been to many historical sporting events in my life. I was at Joe Montana’s last game when the Chiefs visited the Dolphins in a playoff game in 1994. I was at the Canes-Gators game a couple of years ago when Brock Berlin led Miami to that great 4th quarter rally. I was at the Marlins-Yankees World Series game where Alex Gonzalez hit the walk off homerun in extra innings (the game where the phony Roger Clemens was given a premature curtain call). I was at Game 3 of the NBA Finals this year. But this game takes the cake as far as experiences. Only because if the sheer surrealness about it. It went from a sporting event to an all out brawl.

In the end, I guess I can look back on it with some humor. I think the whole Lamar Thomas fiasco is ridiculously hilarious. As is the Legend of Ned, the crutch wielding, one legged FIU warrior that braved the madness to swing a crutch upside someone’s skull, broken leg be damned. But the incident itself would be a huge black eye on the Hurricanes program, not to mention a dark foreshadowing of the tragic murder of Bryan Pata just a few weeks after. The fight seemed to be the culmination of what has been a terrible season for the U.

It is also one of the most popular viewed videos on YouTube this year.

Only in Miami does this happen.


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