Setting aside why it happened and whether it was planned (I know, it’s hard to imagine a business premised on fake stories creating a phony moment), last night’s La La Land debacle at the Oscars raises an interesting question: What is the NFL equivalent of it?
My first thought was the Garo Yepremian gaffe in Super Bowl VII, a moment of infamy that has withstood the test of time. Next up was Jim Marshall’s wrong-way run.
But then I thought of crucial strategic mistakes, like the play call at the end of Super Bowl XLIX. While not a blooper, the decision to pass and not run resulted in a sudden momentum swing that caused the presumptive winner to become the clear loser. Ditto for another game involving Seattle, and a misguided overtime boast from Matt Hasselbeck.
But then I realized that the Oscars blunder was less about the participants with a vested interest in the outcome and more about the folk responsible for the process. So the Fail Mary of 2012 became a prime candidate, given the horribly blown officiating call that gave the Seahawks a win over the Packers.
The best answer (which I didn’t think of; MDS among others suggested it) came in 1998, when referee Phil Luckett botched the coin toss at the start of overtime on Thanksgiving in Detroit, giving the Lions the ball when Steelers running back Jerome Betti had appeared to get the call right. The home team drove into field-goal range, kicked the three-pointer, and won the game.
In this case, the person at Price Waterhouse who gave the back-up envelope to whoever gave it to Warren Beatty is the biggest loser, and Price Waterhouse could end up being replaced by another accounting firm for 2017. Beyond those complications, the Oscars win.
Sure, it was embarrassing and unexpected and probably not carefully engineered and planned. But it also provides the kind of Sixth Sense twist that can make movie-making so memorable, and it will result in much more discussion about the 2017 Oscar and much more anticipation for the 2018 Oscars.
Football has for years been the ultimate reality show. Politics has recently supplanted it. For at least one night, the Oscars ruled over all, with Hollywood achieving a real human moment, the likes of which producers, directors, and actors try to alchemize on a regular basis.
Which brings me back to the nagging belief that all of this was staged to perfection by an industry that is in the business of making it look like like things that didn’t happen actually did. And if it was indeed an inside job, the 2017 Emmys need to create a special categories for the 2017 Oscars.