Strange But True: Field-Goal Tending

R.C. Owens, a pass receiver for the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Colts, had been a marvelous basketball player and high jumper in college. He had once led the nation in rebounds, at 27.7 per game, and he had high-jumped seven feet. Owens’s great ability to leap high made him valuable to the 49ers as a receiver, too. With his quarterback, Y.A. Tittle, Owens perfected a play called the Alley-Oop. Tittle would throw a high floating pass, and Owens would outjump the defensive players and catch the ball just as if it were a basketball rebound.

During one game in 1960, against the Detroit Lions, a Detroit field goal attempt barely cleared the crossbar. A teammate said jokingly to Owens, “I’ll bet you could’ve gotten that, R.C.”

Owens thought about that for a while. Both the basketball hoop and the football crossbar are ten feet off the ground. Although he was only 6-foot-3, he had blocked many basketball shots. Why couldn’t he do the same on a field goal attempt? San Francisco coach Red Hickey wouldn’t let him try it, but when Owens was traded to the Colts, coach Weeb Ewbank thought it wasn’t such a bad idea.

Owens first got a chance to try out his scheme when the Colts played the Washington Redskins. Bob Khayat of the Redskins attempted a field goal from the Baltimore 40-yard line. Owns waited under the crossbar. He had been practicing his block for a long time to get the timing right. The kick went off. The ball rose, and then as it began to descend, Owens flexed his legs and let go with a mighty leap. His fingers made contact with the ball and tipped it away.

The trick never caught on with other teams, probably because they didn’t have a leaper with Owens’s strength and timing. So Owens still holds the record for goal tending in football.

From Strange But True Sports Stories by Howard Liss. Illustrations by Joe Mathieu.

https://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries/la-xpm-2012-jun-24-la-me-rc-owens-20120624-story.html

avataravataravataravataravataravatar
About butcherbakertoiletrymaker 580 Articles
When you can walk its length, and leave no trace, you will have learned.

3 Comments

    • Why? The only reason I can imagine is that they are a bunch of spoilsports.

      I can see a rule against doing the Vincent Adultman thing and having guys standing on each others shoulders to do this, but if someone can jump that high, I say let them try. The NFL needs more weird things allowed, not fewer.

  1. probably not the place for it
    but i just watched butterbean fight cabbage…
    i think that qualifies as strange but true
    (also holy shit…i think when someones face breaks your elbow…you know your in trouble)

Leave a Reply