Strange But True: The Kicker

Percy Haughton, who coached football at Harvard, was a master of psychology. He believed that if a team thought they might lose, then they surely would lose.

In 1912 a young man named Charley Brickley earned a spot on the Harvard squad. Brickley was one of the finest dropkickers of his era, and coach Haughton devised a plan to beat Yale using Brickley.

In the past Harvard had never defeated Yale twice in succession and had never beaten Yale at Harvard Stadium. Haughton decided that 1912 was the year to end the jinx.

Just before his team took the field to warm up, Haughton brought two or three dozen footballs to the Harvard practice area. Then he told Brickley, “Kick those footballs over the crossbar from every angle. And don’t miss.”

As the Yale players watched, Brickley dropkicked every ball through the uprights. Never before had they seen such an exhibition. They were psyched out even before the opening kickoff. Brickley scored a touchdown and also kicked two field goals as Harvard won, 20-0.

A year later Brickley defeated Yale singlehandedly. He dropkicked field goals from the 35-yard line, the 38-yard line, the 32-yard line, and the 24-yard line. He also place-kicked a field goal from the 40-yard line. Harvard won, 15-5, defeating Yale for the second time in a row.

From The Giant Book of More Strange But True Sports Stories by Howard Liss. Illustrations by Joe Mathieu.

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