Top Five Tuesday — Top Five Times Sports Has Made Me Happy

So Sunday night was a pretty happy night in our house.

Not necessarily for me, mind you, but for Julie who is a lifelong New York Giants fan. This went along with the 1987, 1991, and 2008 Super Bowls in making for a happy wife.

Which gets me thinking . . . what have the times been for me that sports results have made me genuinely (if briefly) happy? Where my great desire for a certain player or team to win a decisive match or game actually happened? Where “they” became “we” in a moment of celebration?

Here goes . . .

5. SMU defeats Texas, 1982. Growing up, I hated Texas. And they always beat SMU, the school where my father taught with the team I idolized. Then I went away to college in New Jersey myself and SMU turned the tables. The 1982 Mustangs were the best ever, finishing with a Cotton Bowl win, an 11-0-1 record, and a #2 National Ranking (though no other team went undefeated that year). Yet nothing compares to beating Texas in the regular season. I remember watching the game in a common room in college, having to explain to others my irrational love for this under-rated team. Eric Dickerson’s run following a pitch from Lance McIlhenny (my high school classmate) says it all as SMU wins 30-17:

4. Duke’s first national championship, 1991. As you’ll see in a bit, I love it when long-time runners-up get finally break through and win it all. Duke had been to five consecutive Final Fours without a title before 1991. To win the title, they upset an undefeated UNLV in the semis before beating Kansas in the final. Gotta love Grant Hill’s dunk as well as Coach K’s three subsequent national championships:

3. Dallas Cowboys win Super Bowl VI over Miami Dolphins 24-3 in 1972. For years, the Cowboys had been ridiculed as “next year’s champions.” Finally, behind Roger Staubach, Duane Thomas, and Bob Lilly, next year became this year, the city of Dallas breathed a collective sigh of relief, and I as a 10 year old finally cried tears of joy at a football game rather than tears of sadness.

2. Carolina Panthers playoff run, 2004. If you lived in Charlotte at the time, you had to pinch yourself when you said, “The Panthers are going to the Super Bowl.” But they were. And they did. The two signature moments from those playoffs include Steve Smith’s touchdown catch-and-run that beat the Rams . . .

and DeShaun Foster’s frankly incomprehensible touchdown run against the Eagles in the NFC Championship game, won by the Panthers 14-3:

Glad I watched both those games in the privacy of my own home because my exuberance was just a wee bit out of control.

1. Ivan Lendl wins US Open 1985. Like I said, I love it when a long time runner up makes it to the top. That’s what Lendl — perennial #2 in the world — did to John McEnroe in Flushing Meadow. I admired Lendl’s tenacity, tried unsuccessfully to mimic his forehand, and even wore his argyle tennis shirts. So I jumped about as high as he did when he won match point and clinched the #1 ranking in the world.