Football might not be quiiiite as stat-obsessed as baseball, but fans still can spend endless hours recalling the minutiae of a game played 25 years ago on an unusually cold Sunday in December.
Can you even call yourself a fan if you don’t know your gridiron trivia? Let’s line up on the 20 and get ready to play. (Find the answers here.)
1. If you think American football can see some brutal hits, you should have seen it in the 1900s, when games featured phalanxes of brutish players locking arms and running full force at each other wearing only the padding their mothers gave them. Players not only were routinely injured, some were killed. After Stanford and Cal both replaced their football programs with rugby, the gentler sport, and other colleges threatened to do the same, one man stepped forward to save football, bringing college officials together and setting some stricter rules against maiming and killing opponents. Who was this man?
- a) Knute Rockne
- b) Vince Lombardi
- c) Teddy Roosevelt
- d) Harvard president Charles Eliot
2. We all know Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park was the San Francisco 49ers’ first home. The Oakland Raiders also played its first four games there. But before pro football anointed the field, high school football games were played there, including one memorable one in 1928 between cross-town rivals, San Francisco Polytechnic and Lowell. What put this game in the record books?
- a) The game never officially ended. Fog swept onto the field, making it impossible for players and referees to see what was going on. After five hours, the game was suspended, but never completed.
- b) It saw the highest attendance for a high school game ever, with 50,000 in the stands.
- c) It was the first high school night game played under newly installed lights.
- d) The game was called after 17 overtimes failed to break the 7-7 tie.
3. Speaking of Kezar, another game for the record books was played there in 1964 between the Niners and the Minnesota Vikings. What did Vikings defensive lineman James Lawrence Marshall do that immortalized him?
- a) After recovering a fumble, a confused Marshall ran 66 yards the wrong way and scored a safety for the Niners.
- b) He left at halftime with one of the cheerleaders and announced days later he was giving up football.
- c) When a bad case of flu swept through the Vikings locker room, it was left short of available players. Marshall became the first player to play both defense and offense in the same game and kick a field goal.
- d) He asked to be traded to the Niners in the middle of the game.
4. The National Football League is often referred to as the No Fun League, and there’s good reason for that. The sport has a lot of rules, and some are rather obscure. Take the one concerning the coin toss that makes it possible for a team to lose the flip if they do what?
- a) Fail to call the flip — the prerogative of the visiting team — and supply the ceremonial coin.
- b) Don’t line up on the field in time.
- c) Argue the call.
- d) Don’t show proper respect to the referees.
5. Another rule involves the fair catch. The 49ers were the next-to-the-last team to exercise this option, attempting (and failing) it in a 2013 game against the Rams. What exactly did they do?
- a) The 49ers tried for a “fair catch kick,” which allows receiving teams to line up on the first play and try a field goal.
- b) The 49ers faked a fair catch signal, and as the Rams walked off the field thinking the play was over, the receiver ran 78 yards for a touchdown. The play later was made illegal.
- c) The 49ers declined to receive the ball and instead handed the ball back to the Rams.
- d) The 49ers receiver faked a handoff after making the catch, instead concealing the ball under his jersey and walking into the end zone for a touchdown.
6. In 1946, the 49ers played their first game ever, losing to what team?
- a) The Green Bay Packers, igniting a rivalry that has endured ever since
- b) The Dallas Cowboys
- c) The New York Yankees
- d) The Chicago Bears
7. In the 49ers first-ever appearance in the NFL draft in 1950, their first pick was standout lineman Leo Nomellini, who proved to be a top-notch player. What was Nomellini’s profession during the off-season?
- a) He was an actual gold miner.
- b) He owned a patisserie specializing in delicate cakes and fancy desserts.
- c) He was a banker.
- d) Leo “The Lion” Normellini competed in the National Wrestling Alliance and was a 10-time World Tag Team Champion.
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