Can We See the Replay?

Seven great NFL moments (and a cookie) with Mike Carey

Seven great NFL moments (and a cookie) with Mike Carey

BARRY SANDERS:

“He was unbelievable. He defied physics. I’ve been around some great backs, the whole history. I don’t mean to demean any of them, but nobody’s close. For one thing, Barry’s thighs were about the size of two of mine. On one play, three guys jumped on top of him. He just spins out of it, pushes off, and bang! One step, he’s going full speed. Gone.”

FIRST PLAYOFF GAME, WHEN THE LOS ANGELES RAIDERS PLAYED KANSAS CITY IN A FIRST-ROUND GAME:

“I remember walking into the Raiders’ locker room, and I said, ‘This is different.’ It was like a big fog of energy, and you could just feel the desperation in the air. It wasn’t that it was so tense—there were probably guys joking around—but the energy was just palpable. From college to pros, then pros to the playoffs—there’s a quantum leap. I felt like somebody got a big syringe of adrenaline and stuck it in my arm. I said, ‘I gotta have this all the time.’ That’s what the playoffs feel like.”

WILD-CARD GAME BETWEEN HOUSTON AND BUFFALO, WHEN THE BILLS OVERCAME A 32-POINT DEFICIT TO WIN IN OVERTIME, 41–38, THE LARGEST COMEBACK IN NFL HISTORY:

“Houston comes in and Warren Moon could not miss. It was like the Oilers were playing eighth-graders—touchdown, touchdown. At halftime Houston’s up 28–3. They come out in the third quarter and go up 35–3. Then, Houston turns its engines off. I remember it to this day, [Buffalo quarterback] Frank Reich. It wasn’t this big ‘Yeah, we’re going to go!’ from the Bills. They were just systematic, just like it was 0–0. No panic, no nothing. Houston acted like they were scrimmaging. Buffalo scores—eh, no big deal. They score again and again. Then it starts getting close, and you can feel that Houston’s like, ‘OK, time to put them away.’ They never got that engine fired back up again.”

PEYTON MANNING AND RYAN LEAF:

“I saw those guys in back-to-back weeks during their rookie seasons. Actually, Leaf had outperformed Manning in their preseason games. One of the differences between them was Leaf was a soft body. He was not a firm athlete. I remember Peyton had great poise, and he had focus. Leaf had kind of a huge air of confidence, which was important, but he was loose, almost like he’d been there before. Manning was just intense, very focused, really a student of the game. Just two completely different guys.”

RUSSELL WILSON:

“I was working a Seattle game in Wilson’s rookie season. [Seahawks Coach] Pete [Carroll] comes out and says to me, ‘This guy is really special.’ I go, ‘Yeah, yeah, everybody says that.’ What I like to do in huddles, between snaps, is watch guys. I get right up there, almost in the middle of the huddle, just listening to what they’re saying. I like to see if I can pick up what the play is. More important, I just like to hear the dynamic of the huddle. This kid, he’s a rookie, but he sounds like he’s been in there for 50 years. Wilson’s coming up to me in his rookie year, talking about what his two-minute strategy is. Not asking, ‘Can I do this in two minutes?’ It was, ‘This is what the two-minute drill is going to be. If we do this, we’re going to call a timeout. If we do this …’ Unprompted. No worries in the world.”

TROY AIKMAN:

“Probably one of the most accurate guys you would ever want to see, but he never talked. He was almost like Robocop. (Favre was just as loose as can be. Between snaps, he was just jawing with players. Gets hit: ‘Is that all you got?’ Or, ‘Great hit!’) One time, Aikman got hit so hard, he was literally kind of crying. No air, no nothing. I said, ‘Are you OK?’ He could hardly talk. I said, ‘If you don’t get up, I’m going to have to call somebody out here.’ He gets up, didn’t miss a snap. He handed it off after that, but still.”

BRETT FAVRE … AND THE COOKIE:

“The quarterback takes so much heat in this league for being overprotected. But if he’s not your toughest guy on the team, you’re in trouble. They get blindsided, hit unprotected. There’s nobody tougher than Favre. He had a thumb injury once, maybe a dislocation or something. I go to shake his hand, ‘Hi, how you doing, Brett?’ He says, ‘Hey, Mike.’ He put his hand out and said, ‘Don’t squeeze it!’ It was so puffy, I was amazed that he could even hold the ball, much less throw it. Didn’t miss a snap the whole game.”

And the cookie? “Brett Favre runs out one time after halftime and brings me an oatmeal raisin cookie. Who does that? ‘You want a cookie, Mike?’ Then he goes, ‘God, you’ve been around a while, Mike. How old are you?’ I say, ‘62.’ He says, ‘Who me? I’m not 62!’ I say, ‘No, I’m 62.’ He goes, ‘No way! You’re not 62!’ I say, ‘Why would I lie about being old?’”

post-image Sanders. Illustrations by Sean McCabe
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