Gifford: “Greatest Game” wasn’t the greatest

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“The Glory Game: How the 1958 NFL Championship Changed Football Forever,” a book by by New York Giant Hall-of-Famer Frank Gifford, was released on November 4, 2008. On Saturday, December 13, ESPN will broadcast the 1958 Colts-Giants NFL championship, otherwise known as The Greatest Game Ever Played.

I did not exist when the game was played in 1958. However, I have suspected that the matchup between the Colts and Giants should be called “The Most Significant NFL Game Ever Played.” In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Gifford agrees.

Number one, this wasn’t the greatest game ever played. It was electric and it later took on that unbelievable air about it. But there were six fumbles during the game. And in the first half, they [The Colts] were almost as bad as we were.

So which NFL games should be considered among the greatest ever? Here’s what Gifford thinks:

That game down in Arizona last year [the Giants’ Super Bowl victory over the Patriots] was just fantastic. The ’68 championship game [between the Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders] was fantastic. The Houston Oilers against the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football in 1978. Earl Campbell had a fantastic game. The rest of the games all kind of run together.

I think the greatest NFL game took place on January 2, 1982, and I watched it on television.

The Epic In Miami” was a long, grueling contest between the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers. The Chargers, led by coach Don “Air” Coryell and quarterback, Dan Fouts, jumped to a 24-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. Miami stormed back in the second quarter and scored 17 unanswered points. The last touchdown of the second half was a beautifully-executed hook and lateral by receiver Duriel Harris and running back Tony Nathan.

The game was tied 38-38 at the end of regulation. The exhausted players struggled as they attempted to play competent football during the overtime period. Mercifully, the Chargers’ Rolf Benirschke kicked a 29-yard field goal with 1:08 remaining to end the game.

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