Since sixteen and three-quarter billion pro sporting contests take place each year worldwide (give or take,) weird little coincidences take place all the time. For example, it’s our understanding that two different guys named Manning have won three Super Bowls between them since 2006. What are the chances, right? The only more unlikely thing we can think of is if they were actually related in some way.
The following examples are different. They prove that there actually are sports gods, and that they really enjoy screwing with us.
10. Indianapolis Colts Draft A Quarterback Named “Luck”
The Indianapolis Colts’ horse-based team name explains their logo, the iconic horseshoe. It so happens that the horseshoe is one of the most recognizable symbols of luck in the world — ancient Europeans believed that goblins and fairies were afraid of iron, and would therefore hang horseshoes above the entrances to their homes, and the association with good fortune stuck around for centuries.
Which makes it a pretty weird coincidence that the Colts, in 2012, selected quarterback Andrew Luck with the first pick in the NFL draft – doubly unlikely, since the Colts only owned that pick as a result of their only losing season in, oh, a decade or so. As an odd little aside, previous quarterback Peyton Manning left Indy to become a Denver Bronco, perhaps because he wanted to remain a horse.
9. Allen DeGraffenreid, Times Two
The surname “DeGraffenreid” is not exceedingly common, as you might have gathered. Also, it’s pretty tough to make it into the NFL, so it’s pretty surprising that two people with that last name have done it. What’s even more surprising is that they were both named Allen!
Allen T. DeGraffenreid played five games over one season at offensive tackle for the Arizona Cardinals in 1998. Allen J. DeGraffenreid similarly played a mere two games at wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, in 1993. Of course, there’s no relation, and their names are the only connection between the two players. Two people sharing that name is unlikely enough; the same two people having brief NFL careers elevates the coincidence to the level of absurdity.
8. The Three Denises
Playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Montreal Juniors in 1977 fielded three guys named Denis – Savard, Cyr and Tremblay. While this is pretty unlikely, it’s what “Les Trois Denis” shared beyond their first name that vaults this coincidence into craziness.
All three Denises were childhood friends, who grew up together in the same neighborhood in Verdun. They played hockey together since they were eight years old all the way up til they turned pro, and we still haven’t reached the really weird part – they were all born on the same day, February 4th, 1961. Savard, the most famous of the three, and a member of the Hockey Hall Of Fame, once remarked “what are the odds of that, if you think about it,” because he is a master of understatement.
7. The ’53 Red Sox, And The Numbers 17 and 1
On June 17, 1953, the Boston Red Sox defeated the Detroit Tigers by a score of 17 to 1. Fortunately for the Tigers, they got a chance to redeem themselves the next day; unfortunately, they not only failed to do that, but instead suffered one of their worst losses ever while taking part in a truly bizarre coincidence.
One day after their 17-1 victory on the 17th, the Red Sox scored seventeen runs again – in ONE inning. The hapless Tigers, en route to a 23-3 loss, got to play the straight man to the Red Sox’ comedy of runs, and this is still the most runs scored in one inning in American League history.
6. The San Francisco 49ers’ Serendipitous Defensive Linemen
In 1994, the Niners drafted Defensive Tackle Bryant Young. The next season, they took Defensive Lineman Junior Bryant. 49ers fans could be forgiven for a bit of confusion, for in addition to their weirdly similar names, there were other common things going on with the Bryants.
Both were defensive linemen, who played their entire careers for San Francisco; both played college ball at Notre Dame; both were born in January (Junior in 1971, Bryant Young in 1972); and both almost did not get a shot in the NFL (Bryant Young went in the seventh round, while Junior Bryant was an undrafted free agent).
Despite having four children, Bryant Young refrained from naming any of them Bryant Young Jr., probably because he hates comedy.
5. Jack Nicklaus Predicts Victory For … Lots Of People
Jack Nicklaus, the golf legend known as the “Golden Bear” for some reason, was just getting started in 1965. That was the year he won his second Masters, the most prestigious tournament in golf. Also in the wide world of sports that year, jockey Willie Shoemaker won the Kentucky Derby, the Celtics won the NBA Championship, and the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup.
In 1986, Nicklaus was slowing down. That year he won his final Masters- and all three of the aforementioned things happened again. We’re not sure of how to go about calculating the odds for such a thing, so we’ll just go go ahead and call it “unlikely in the extreme,” while sticking our fingers in our ears to hold our brains in.
4. “Redskins Rule” Predicts Victory For … US Presidents
The Redskins have provided a valuable service to the city of Washington, D.C., for decades, besides just giving football fans a team to root for. Over a 60-year span, the result of the Redskins’ final home game before a Presidential election accurately predicted the result of the election.
Between 1940 and 2000, the following rule applied without fail: “If the Redskins win their last home game before the election, the party that won the previous election wins the next election; and if the Redskins lose, the challenging party’s candidate wins.” The streak was snapped in 2004, when the ‘Skins lost the pivotal game to the Tennessee Titans, meaning the incumbent – George W. Bush – should have lost, but defeated John Kerry to retain the Presidency.
3. Mark Sanchez = Lucifer?
Whether or not Mark Sanchez is a bust as a quarterback is up for debate. So is whether he is the Lord Of Lies. To proponents of a certain religious faith, the numbers just kind of speak for themselves:
On week 6 of the 2012 NFL season, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez started on the 666th broadcast of Monday Night Football. At the time, he had posted the following statistics: Touchdowns: 6. Interceptions: 6. Average yards per pass attempt: 6.6. Longest completion: 66 yards. Quarterback rating (drum roll, please): 66.6.
For those who don’t know, Sanchez wears number 6 and was backed up by none other than Tim Tebow, who wears his Christian faith on both sleeves. What does this mean? Probably that the football gods have an awesome sense of humor.
2. Tampa Bay Rays Are A Magnet For Perfect Games
A “perfect game” in baseball occurs when a pitcher does not allow any opposing runner to reach base, in any way, shape or form. No hits, no walks, no bribery, no nothing. It is an incredibly rare feat, having been accomplished only 23 times in MLB history.
The Tampa Bay Rays have suffered the indignity of having three perfect games thrown against them – not in the history of the franchise, but in four seasons, between 2009 and 2012. Again, there have only been 23 of those … ever. To put that in perspective, that’s 13% of all perfect games ever thrown in the 144-year history of major league baseball, in a three-year span, against the same team. Furthermore, two of those games came within one year of each other. This is not the way any team wants to make ridiculously improbable history.
1. Backup QB Frank Reich Leads Biggest Comeback In College, Then NFL, History
Here are the facts: in 1984, senior backup quarterback Frank Reich led the University of Maryland back from 31 points down, to defeat the previously undefeated Miami Hurricanes. At the time, this was an NCAA record, the greatest comeback in the history of college football.
Nine years later, fate would plop Reich down in the middle of the biggest coincidence in all of sports. In 1993 Reich, subbing for an injured Jim Kelly, led the Buffalo Bills back from 32 points down to secure a playoff victory over the Oilers. The guy who left the greatest college football comeback ever, now led his team to the greatest comeback in the history of professional football. That he, as the Bills’ backup, no less, would even find himself in a position to attempt the feat in the NFL is a crazy coincidence; that he actually did it is ludicrous.
No wonder he’s found a successful post-football career as a motivational speaker; any guy who has accomplished the impossible not once but twice must have valuable advice on how to kick ass and take names.