Elizabeth Taylor, who died Wednesday, was an actress of extraordinary range and longevity. As an NFL coin flipper, she left a lot to be desired.
“First time I've ever gotten mad at the coin flip,” Joe Gibbs spewed, according to Tom Friend’s account in the Sept. 29, 1989, Washington Post. And it takes a lot to make Gibbs spew.
Taylor was making an appearance to promote her perfume in Dallas when Jerry Jones got the idea of having her do the coin toss before the Redskins-Cowboys game, won 30-7 by the Redskins. Jones escorted her onto the field “like a prom queen and her beau,” the referee was unnerved, she seemed somewhat unfamiliar with the workings of the coin flip and, frankly, Dexter Manley wanted nothing to do with her or Jones. (“To hell with Elizabeth Taylor. That new owner Jim Jones — what's his name? -- he was gonna let her call the coin toss, like we were some kind of idiots. They tried to make this out to be some big Hollywood thing. This is Dallas, Texas. Country folks.”)
The Dallas Morning News has the play-by-play:
She was led to the 50-yard line, where she shook hands with Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson. She walked with owner Jerry Jones to midfield for the toss, and her presence seemed to fluster those present.
Evidently,referee Pat Haggerty considered her more important than the Cowboys' players. Here are his opening words: “Captains from Dallas, meet the captains from Washington. Captains from Washington, meet Liz Taylor and Jerry Jones.”
Haggerty then flipped the coin. Liz, who was supposed to flip it, instead called it. “Heads,” she said.
It landed heads up, but one of the Redskins protested that the visiting team is supposed to make the call. “It's our ball, man,” said tight end Terry Orr.
Said Haggerty to Liz: “You've got me all shook up.”
He flipped it again. The Redskins called heads and won. Liz and Jones then went to his luxury box to watch the Redskins win, 30-7.
“You can see with Liz Taylor being there, I was a little nervous,” Haggerty said after the game.”