An oral history of The Play (cont.)
MOEN: There were so many people on the field I couldn't tell when I crossed into the end zone. That's why I was pretty deep when I did my celebratory leap. I wasn't aware of Gary at all. I was just jumping for joy. It was my first and last touchdown for Cal. In the next instant, I was suffocating at the bottom of this pile of guys celebrating. I was like, okay, now I'm going to die.
TYRRELL: I wasn't hurt, but we were wearing hard hats, so who knows if that helped? My horn wasn't dented at all. (The trombone, now on display at the College Football Hall of Fame, earned its dents in a subsequent fraternity game of catch.) The eerie thing is that photograph (of Moen jumping with the ball) is exactly what I saw before he hit me. The next day I picked up a paper and there was that photo. I was like aaaaaahh! how did they do that? The photographer had been right at my shoulder.
HARMON: The last guy who lateraled took me out when he dived to the ground. When I got up, I heard the cannon go off. And then there was just chaos. The whole time I was thinking, well, that was interesting, but the guy was down. The refs huddled over there, they'll make the right decision. I still thought we were going to end up winning the game.
DOTTERER: It was pandemonium. I remember thinking, well, we put on another great show and people got their money's worth. I went in the locker room thinking we had won. Then a teammate said, "Mike Wyman (a defensive tackle) just tore a door off a hinge." That was my signal that maybe they had called the game the other way.
MOEN: Out on the field I was running around hugging all my teammates and they're were saying, who scored? Who scored? And I said, I scored! Through all that confusion, even I couldn't really tell you what just happened. I knew I had scored, but I didn't know all the pieces that went into play. It was chaotic and so much fun to celebrate with all the students, to do our little dance with the Axe (the Big Game trophy). The field was so crammed with people it took me an hour to get off. The thought of the game result being changed never entered my mind.
ANDERSON: Back at our end zone there was an incredible spectrum of emotion: Cal fans and players dancing and celebrating, Stanford fans stunned and silent. I remember Elway and Wiggin angrily stalking by, and they both seemed seven feet tall. There was a lot of anger and confusion. I think we played one song -- Hail, Stanford, Hail -- and got out of there.
ROBINSON: The bus ride home was really quiet, and the band is never quiet. Driving through Cal's fraternity row we were getting beer thrown at us, we were getting jeered. When we got back to campus people could not wait to get out of those band uniforms. I remember this pile of band gear by the bus.
ANDERSON: I'm sure my coat was in that pile. The band would be more or less exonerated in the next few days, but that night we were guilty. I remember a little boy who had waited in the parking lot for our return so he could shout obscenities at us.
ROBINSON: When I got back from my dorm room my answering machine was full. There were calls from Switzerland and Hong Kong, saying, "I hear you're the manager of the band, can you explain yourself?" I had been in the job two seconds! But some of those calls were from Silicon Valley companies that wanted us to play at their Friday afternoon beer busts. In fact, one call was from Steve Jobs' assistant. All of the sudden people wanted to see this notorious group. So there were some silver linings.
TYRRELL: There's no question The Play opened up some interesting paths and opportunities for me. I couldn't have imagined throwing down beers with Joe Kapp, but I've done that a few times.
ROBINSON: Now it's kind of fun to think about, but for years after The Play I was pissed. And I felt a bit responsible since I was in that vanguard of people who ran on to the field. The next year I got a little revenge. The morning of The Big Game I called around to find the Cal band's bus company and cancelled their buses to Palo Alto.
ANDERSON: Stanford lost that Big Game, too, so watching the very tardy Cal band march down the ramp into the stadium midway through the second quarter was a highlight. I'm impressed they made it at all. The Cal band had that same never-say-die attitude Joe Kapp instilled in his football team.
JOE KAPP (Cal's rookie coach): I show The Play to kids groups, I show it at the prison in Soledad. The message? The game of football lasts 60 minutes, not 59! And it took a whole community to make the Play happen. It's not a sport that just one person can do. As great as Elway was, he couldn't do it all himself.
WIGGIN: The Play probably cost John the Heisman Trophy, and I've always felt bad about that. My life wasn't ended by it, though my job was. I coached another year, but I probably shouldn't have. It was not a fun year. But at some point you say, this is part of history. I mean, nobody died! Ask anyone who knows me, I can joke about it. One day during my first training camp with the Vikings, in 1985, there were two young sportswriters who were trying to be funny. One was wearing a T-shirt with The Play. The other one said, 'Coach, did you see what he's wearing?' I said, 'I did see it, Bob, and you tell that little SOB that if I ever see it again I'm going to rip it off his body!' You should have seen these guys; they didn't know what to do. Finally I had to say, 'I'm just joking!'
RODGERS: The Play impacted my life in a lot of ways. As a football coach, when I have to stand in front of a team and give them some kind of hope for winning a game, I think I have pretty good wildcard in my pocket. In fact, everyone thinks I carry a DVD of the Play in my pocket.
HARMON: I only think about The Play once a year, and I don't watch the shows with the top 10 sports moments. I do remember watching a bowl game years later where there was a play with several laterals. I thought, maybe THIS will push us down that list.
MOEN: It didn't alter my life beyond giving me a great memory and unique connection to Cal. There have been a lot dramatic endings in sports, but to me, nothing will be as unique as The Play because you very rarely see the band on the field.
STARKEY: Years ago (San Francisco Chronicle columnist) Scott Ostler showed me a website that listed famous quotes of the 20th Century. Number one was "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Number two was "Ask not what your country can do for you." Number three was "The band is on the field!" Any sportscaster wants to have made some call you can be remembered by. Al Michaels had "Do you Believe in Miracles?" Russ Hodges had "The Giants win the pennant!" The Play was mine. (To hear Starkey's full call of the Play, go here.)
DOTTERER: The Play taught me that anything can happen. I'm blown away when I see professional athletes who give up with time on the clock. That said, I never felt like we lost that game. That's why the game will go down in history. Everybody on the Stanford side believes we won the game. And it'll probably always be that way. Whenever Stanford wins the Axe we change the 1982 score back to 20-19.
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