Friday, February 2, 2018

The Final Gun

Think you know how Super Bowl VI ended? You're Probably Wrong.

If you're a sports buff, you probably think the game ended 24-3 in favor of the Dallas Cowboys. That part isn't disputed. But what actually ended the game was the final gun. That's right, not a buzzer. Not a whistle. Not a horn. Up until the 1980's, a gunshot from officials marked the end. And more specifically, it might have been this revolver that signaled the actual end of that game. Maybe. Trying to confirm that.

It's a Harrington & Richardson .38 S&W double-action revolver carried by my grandfather who was the back judge (Ralph Vandenberg, #47) during that game. How times have changed! You might expect a traditional starter's pistol since only blanks would be used. Evidently, the NFL left the decision to the official's discretion. While it's not as powerful as the .38 Special, it is a 200g bullet coming out of a rifled barrel with more than 150 ft. lbs of energy. It was a common caliber in the first half of the last century and the blanks give a much more authoritative report than a .22 or crimped shell for sure.

I know because the fall of 2017 was a miserable bird season, due to my unpreparedness. I wanted to make sure thaJ├╝rgen didn't forget his association of gunfire with good things. It was around and we had some shells, so what the heck. He hasn't forgotten the association, but it's louder than I think is appropriate for a neighborhood backyard.

On Super Bowl Sunday this year I'll be watching NFL Films of the game from '72. Maybe I can determine if he was carrying this revolver on the field for that game, which would make it even more special.

UPDATE: To end the 3rd quarter, the announcer,  , counts down the seconds and states "there's the gun, which is distinctly heard here. However, it's offscreen and it's impossible to tell the actual direction or who fired the shot. So it can neither be confirmed nor denied at this point.