A Drop in the Bucket


By Cookie “Chainsaw” Randolph

(Published in the February 2011 issue)

As I reflect on another NFL season, particularly the playoffs and the Super Bowl, I’m reminded how former San Francisco 49ers running back Roger Craig is responsible for Jim Carrey’s superstardom, the sitcom Friends, our national obsession with Jennifer Aniston’s fertility, the fate of Third World orphans and one less Hall of Fame enshrinement in Canton, Ohio.

Allow yourself to thoroughly agree by reading on.

Known for his distinctive, high-knee running technique, Craig was the first NFL player to both run and receive for over 1,000 yards in the same season. He earned three Super Bowl rings with the San Francisco 49ers and was headed for a fourth until fate intervened on January 20, 1991.

The defending Super Bowl champion 49ers were nursing a 13-12 fourth quarter lead over the visiting New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game at Candlestick Park.

With less than three minutes remaining, the 49ers needed two first downs to clinch the game when the inexplicable occurred: Craig fumbled, and the Giants recovered. Quarterback Jeff Hostetler, filling in for the injured Phil Simms, led the Giants downfield, whereupon Matt Bahr kicked the game-winning field goal to make it 15-13 Giants.

Thus began one of the most percussive chain reactions in cultural American history.

We all know what happened in the Super Bowl one week later. Whitney Houston sang the greatest-ever rendition of the National Anthem, and Scott Norwood missed a 47- yard field goal that handed the Giants a 20-19 victory over Marv Levy’s Buffalo Bills.

The likelihood of that same outcome, had the 49ers been there instead of the Giants, is approximately 0.000001 percent. That’s how chain reactions work.

The field goal missed by inches-the infamous “Wide Right” became the central plot line of the 1994 comedy sensation Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, which launched Jim Carrey into superstardom (and introduced the idea that Dan Marino should “die of gonorrhea and burn in Hell”).

“Laces out, Dan!” became part of the national lexicon, as the Scott Norwood-inspired character, Ray Finkel, Jr., missed a fictitious field goal in the Super Bowl. He blamed the placekick holder Marino, which led to Dan’s abduction in the movie.

Despite his brilliance on In Living Color, Jim Carrey never would have reached the zenith he did without Ace Ventura.

Thank you, Roger Craig.

If it hadn’t been for Ace Ventura-despite her allure as Bruce Springsteen’s chick-from-the-crowd in The Boss’s epic “Dancing in the Dark” video 10 years prior-Carrey’s luscious co-star, Courtney Cox, may not have had the career momentum to land her iconic role as Monica Geller in Friends, nor the current guilty pleasure, Cougar Town.

And her hubby, David Arquette, would not be confessing to Howard Stern how infrequently he’s been getting laid (at least by Courteney, anyway).

Thank you, Roger Craig.

Without Friends, a nation would have been spared not only the came-and-went sitcom Joey, but also Jennifer Aniston’s ongoing personal drama. She was perfect as Rachel Green, but that kind of role only comes along once.

Without it, we would not be bearing witness to a string of box-office clunkers and an endless parade of insufferable magazine profiles, which are made totally acceptable by her deliciously fabulous swimsuit photos.

Thank you, Roger Craig.

One must also assume this chain reaction is responsible for the Aniston/Brad Pitt marriage, the ensuing husband-stealing act by Angelina Jolie and the subsequent adoption addiction Brangelina contracted. Not to mention that hideous goat beard Pitt finally hacked off.

Thank you, Roger Craig.

These are just the highlights, but there so are many more: the butt-talking phenomenon that got so many young boys in trouble at school (including one of my sons), Sean Young’s infamous tuck, Steve Young replacing Joe Montana one year too soon, Bill Parcells’ legacy as a genius and the preposterous exclusion of Craig in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Roger Craig rushed for more yards and scored more touchdowns (73) than Hall-of-Famers (aka HOFers) Gale Sayers and Larry Csonka.

Roger Craig caught for more yardage than HOFers Thurman Thomas, Barry Sanders, Eric Dickerson, Tony Dorsett, Walter Payton, John Riggins and Franco Harris.

Among running backs, only Harris (with four) won more Super Bowl rings than Craig’s three (a number he shares with recent HOF inductee Emmitt Smith). So, while that fumble is keeping Craig out of Canton, its chain reaction has given life to a generation of pop culture.

Thank you, Roger Craig. You changed our world for the better, but obviously did not do the same for yours. You deserve better.

Allllrighty then.

Cookie “Chainsaw” Randolph’s world has changed back to (ab)normal, weekday mornings on 100.7 Jack-FM with Dave, Shelly & Chainsaw.