After further review, the Pittsburgh Steelers' "Immaculate Reception" of 1972 has been overturned.
According to the replay official, Terry Bradshaw's ricocheting pass did not bong Jack Tatum, as previously thought, or nick any of the other Oakland defenders. The ball caromed off Steelers running back Frenchy Fuqua, a violation of a rule in force at the time that prohibited two receivers from collaborating on one catch.
It would have been the Steelers' first success in a modern-era playoff game, perhaps their springboard to '70s greatness. But it didn't happen.
Instead, the Raiders went on that season to win the Super Bowl in such an inspired fashion that, without any prodding whatsoever, city fathers renovated the old stadium to Al Davis's utter satisfaction, prompting Davis to sob at the dedication: "I shall never leave Oakland."
Meanwhile, although set back a year or so in their development, the Steelers still managed to win three Super Bowls. Wait a moment. Make that two Super Bowls. Because, after further review, replays plainly show Houston Oilers receiver Mike Renfro was not only in bounds but in the end zone at the climactic instant of the 1979 playoffs.
Therefore, the Steelers neither monopolized the Super Bowl nor put the country in mind of the great Green Bay Packers after all.
Which was just as well, since, upon further review, it turns out Packers placekicker Don Chandler actually missed the critical field goal (wide right) in the Western Conference title game of 1965.
Thus, Tom Matte, Baltimore's makeshift quarterback, took the Colts all the way to the NFL championship on his fabled wristband offense, became a cult figure in Baltimore on the order of Henry Louis Mencken or Edgar Allen Poe, and eventually was elected mayor.
Mayor Matte was instrumental in persuading Carroll Rosenbloom to sell the Colts to the city when Rosenbloom was considering gulling a hayseed from Skokie, Ill., into buying the Los Angeles Rams and swapping them straight up for the Colts.
Saying "nothing could top the Matte year," Don Shula resigned as coach to join Gino Marchetti and Alan Ameche in the fast-food business. Down the road, Joe Namath never guaranteed or delivered on anything.
In the meantime, lacking the momentum of 1965, Green Bay neglected to reach either Super Bowl I or II. Bart Starr was benched permanently in favor of Zeke Bratkowski, who never won the big one but became an idol to small children with large noses. Hank Stram, not Vince Lombardi, was lionized (though never canonized). For some reason or other, the nation didn't pick up on Joe Kuharich's cynical slogan: "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing." And the Vietnam War ended in half the time.
Chandler's Packers roommate, offensive lineman Jerry Kramer, felt so deflated after the missed field goal that he stopped keeping the diary that would have been Dick Schaap's first bestseller. As a result, none of Schaap's subsequent books, from Kennedy to Bo, were ever published. Because of a flattened literary market, the Son of Sam spared all his victims for the time being.
Looking back locally, very little to speak of has been altered from above; that is, from the booth. Although, by order of the replay official, one second was put back on the clock in 1979 and Mark Moseley did kick a 60-yard field goal for a 37-35 Redskins victory over Dallas that became a watershed for both franchises. Consequently, Joe Theismann went to the Hall of Fame while Roger Staubach became a nerdy television announcer on cable.
Jack Pardee, the Redskins' coach for life, never one to rest on his Super Bowl successes, surrounded himself with the most capable if -- sometimes it seemed -- most nondescript assistant coaches in football. Dull-spoken men with dull-sounding names like "Joe Gibbs." (That four-eyed fellow from San Diego who looks like a librarian. He took the rap with Don Coryell when all their razzle-dazzle never won anything.)
Nationally, unfazed by time or technology, regal San Francisco and its nonpareil quarterback, Steve Young, are on cruise control again, undoubtedly headed to a second straight Super Bowl and record third championship.
The Cleveland Browns and their gritty captain, Earnest Byner, remain the darlings of the underdogs. Down by contact -- or was it an inadvertent whistle? -- Byner got up from a near-fumble in the late '80s to lead the Browns to the brink of enough world championships to make them feel like the Minnesota Vikings (who, you'll recall, won only one of four Super Bowls, and that one thanks to two inadvertents and an inconclusive).
Once again, snakebitten Denver has been renewing its customary cry for just a solitary shot at the brass ring. "We wouldn't waste it," John Elway promises.
And the Redskins still are sore about missing the current playoffs, blaming CBS mostly. In the 9-3 loss to Chicago at RFK, a crucial third-down completion to Art Monk that was allowed on the field has been reversed in the box. Regrettably, it was Monk's only catch of the day. So, his consecutive-games streak ended as well. He will probably be lost to history now.
But remember, Art, no man is a failure if he has friends.
It's a wonderful ref.