I'm a soon to be 42 year old man who grew up in New York as a Mets fan, Knicks fan and a San Francisco 49ers fan. Why not the Jets, Giants or even the Bills? Because my father was a front running Niners fan in the 80's in which the franchise won 4 Super Bowls in that decade. After Montana took down Dan Marino and the Dolphins in Super Bowl XIX back in the 1984 season, I vividly remember routing for the Niners as a 4 year old boy and I was hooked and it stuck.
It stuck so tightly that I felt that the 49ers were my family. By the time I was 10 I was calling their plays from my couch with a very high accuracy rate! Every year I would look up and down the roster and learn as much about every player I possibly could. Even birthdays as I found out I share a birthday with the great 49ers Hall of Fame Safety Ronnie Lott, which is May 8th. I wasn't into comic books so the 49ers were my super heroes.
I loved my Mets and Knicks and watched every game they played. But when it came to Sundays and Monday nights when my favorite team was playing on TV you weren't even allowed to speak to me. My friends soon began to realize that watching a 49ers game with me ws not fun and brought consequences and fear of getting hurt since I couldn't control myself when they were losing. Especially when the Niners played the Cowboys and the Packers.
courtesy of The Mercury News
The last time my friends came over to watch a 49ers game with me was back in the 2002 playoffs when the New York Giants went on the road to San Francisco to play the Niners in the Wild Card Round. If you guys remember that was the game where Kerry Collins and the Giants dominated San Fran the entire first half. The Niners were being embarrassed on the field and me back home in NY seeing no hope, no way to come back and win this game. At some point after another Giants touchdown I ended up throwing a beer bottle in my own house where what if even worse I hit someone with the beer bottle?! My friends said we love you bro but gotta go. I didn't blame them, I was going nuts and what made it even worse was the fact that they were all Giants fans.
However, the 49ers ended up making this miraculous comeback and took the lead near the end of the 4th quarter. The G-Men had an opportunity for a game winning field goal in which a botched snap forced the place holder to toss the football as far as he could toward the end zone, missing his target downfield who happened to be an offensive lineman. Some fans thought it was pass interference and the Giants would get a crack at a very short game winning field goal. Some fans thought the offensive lineman was an ineligible man down field. There was a bunch of confusion but when the smoke cleared the Niners were victorious and moved on to the divisional round where the eventual Super Bowl champions that season, the Tampa Bay Bucs gave my boys a serious beatdown. Before I knew it Tampa was up by four touchdowns and it was obvious there wouldn't be a second miracle.
I love this team so much that I literally felt as if I was on the field as a player or coach and had influence over what would happen during the course of the game. I remember wishing I would have a main line to the 49ers bench and booth so I can give them advice on what to do. If the 49ers won on Sunday, my Monday was shining brightly. If they lost then just flat out stay away from me for a couple of days as I recover from my depression. And I'm not even kidding here! I loved and still love the San Francisco 49ers. However, now I don't take things as seriously and scary as I was when I was a young man. My friends have been welcomed back and thank goodness I've controlled myself.
But that game against the Giants isn't my favorite sports moment. You see during the 1990's there were 3 teams in the NFC in which one of them was basically guaranteed to win the Super Bowl. The Packers won 1 against the Patriots. The Niners won one against the Chargers. And them Cowboys won 3 times during the 90's. The Niners and Cowboys already had a rivalry but when Brett Favre came over to the Green Bay Packers in the early 90's, it was clear there was another contender in the conference.
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The 49ers had great battles against both of these teams whether they won or lost. These games were always tight and exciting til the game clock stopped ticking. But Favre and the Pack had the Niners number. For some reason we couldn't beat those guys for a while. It started in 1996 where Green Bay had taken down the Niners 5 times in a row all the way up til 1999. Three of those games were playoff loses and one was the NFC championship which made the hatred toward the Pack that much more intense. They became our Super Bowl match up every season. We knew the Pack became our ultimate road block on the path to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
Brett Favre had the better overall team so Steve Young had to be perfect every time they played. After 3 consecutive post season loses to the Green Bay Packers, the 49ers found themselves once again, face to face in the playoffs. This time it was a wild card game in San Francisco and the pressure was absolutely intense. The Packers held the lead for most of the game and it seemed they could score on any play. Somehow the Niners stuck in there despite some mistakes by key players like Terrell Owens and Jerry Rice.
San Francisco needed a touchdown to win the game on their final drive. Steve Young manages to lead the Niners close to the Packers red zone. There was only enough time on the clock to get off one last play. It had to be a touchdown and we'd finally beat the Packers in the playoffs. Steve Young famously tripped over his feet as he dropped back to pass around the Packers 28 yard line. Young, being the athlete he is, regains his balance and finds a very tight window where he can hit Terrell Owens in the middle of the end zone as 3 Packers defenders rushed in on him.
courtesy of San Francisco 49ers
Owens was having the worst game of his professional career as he dropped multiple perfect passes from Steve Young, one of them being a lay up for a TD that Owens just drops. After the game Owens blamed those costly dropped balls on the sunshine being in his eyes. On this last play, the sun had already set so there were no excuses. Like I said, Young stumbles back, regains control and throws a perfect pass to the only spot on the field he had at throwing a game winning touchdown. On the receiving end was Terrell Owens who reached up and caught the ball, holding on to it for dear life as 3 Packer defenders converse to hit T.O. at the same time as he comes down with the football cleanly in the end zone.
courtesy of The Athletic
I'm not sure if I was more relieved that we finally beat Brett or happy we were moving on to the next round. I'm not sure who was more emotional, me or T.O.? A lot of my emotion that evening came from the pure shock that the Niners basically hit a walk off home run to advance in the playoffs. I honestly did not expect them to win the game in that scenario but it happened. I was so happy, perhaps the most emotion I ever spent on a single game and it wasn't even for a championship. It was the fact that the Niners finally beat the Packers in the playoffs (30 - 27) and while there are so many memorable championship moments in this great franchises history, this will always be the one that sticks out to me. The joy and the relief brought out so many emotions that I felt as if I was actually playing in that game. That's my most memorable and favorite sports moment of all time, for me personally. What's yours?