Even through the impending food coma and the pumpkin martinis – yes, you read that right; they’re delicious – on Thanksgiving, it was hard not to notice a lot of the attention being paid to former Dallas Cowboys lineman Leon Lett.
Lett, of course, is the buffoon who cost his Cowboys a Thanksgiving day victory in 1993 when he slid in the snow and kicked a blocked field goal attempt. That came 11 months after he tried to showboat into the end zone and had one of the best hustle plays of all time come back to bite him in his super-sized posterior.
It’s not really a shame that Lett is remembered for these two plays since they are so outrageous in trying to place them in a category.
(And, really, when something ridiculous happens in sports, we constantly bring that scenario up again. Look at Bobby Valentine. Just hired by the Red Sox and half the pictures shown of him are when he rocked that fake mustache and glasses combo. The same way Don Beebee is remembered as the guy who ran down Lett and knocked the ball out of his hands.)
Lett was a guy who played on one of the best dynasties in NFL history, winning three Super Bowls – and he wasn’t terrible either as he made two Pro Bowls. Not bad for a guy who was drafted in the seventh round out of Emporia State. (Yeah, try telling us where that is.)
His level of accomplishment for where his career arc should have left him is stunning.
But, he’ll always be remembered for those two plays. How many other athletes are routinely in the center of drama? Recently, we could only think of a couple; and their screw-ups are nowhere near the levels of Lett’s.
Ron Artest and A.J. Pierzynski came to mind first. Artest seems to always be in the middle of something on the court and his place in history as the only fan to run 15 rows into the stands to deliver a haymaker will always immortalize him.
Pierzynski is just a bad guy, often voted among the league’s meanest or dirtiest players, a guy who knows how to get under your skin. His teammates love him for that reason and his opponents hate him.
But those two are just pawns in the grand scheme of the Leon Lett Pantheon. They have a small place there, but nothing gaudy. You know who does?
Anytime there’s a scandal in baseball, the game’s richest player is somehow involved. The man tries so damn hard to be well-liked and it always backfires. His relationship with Derek Jeter is toast, he is linked to steroids, he has crossed the line with unwritten rules on the field (crossing the pitcher’s mound and yelling “I got it” while running the bases to prevent a player from catching a pop-up) and most recently he’s involved in the Dan Lozano allegations. Of course he is.
While we might be discussing all of this about A-Rod one day in Cooperstown, he should make sure to thank Leon Lett during his acceptance speech. If only because A-Rod’s bumbles have been frequent but not overwhelmingly memorable. Rodriguez will be remembered for a lot.
Lett is remembered for two things.