Wednesday, December 26, 2007
A look back
In National Football League lore, the Snowplow Game refers to a regular-season game played between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots on December 12, 1982.
Playing in a heavy snowstorm at New England's Schaefer Stadium, in Foxborough, Massachusetts, the two teams remained scoreless late into the fourth quarter. With 4:45 left to go in the game and on-field conditions worsening, Patriots coach Ron Meyer summoned Mark Henderson, who was a convict on a work release program, and was the stadium's snowplow operator that afternoon - and in the face of furious protests from Miami coach Don Shula - was directed to veer off course and clear a spot on the field for placekicker John Smith, with Matt Cavanaugh putting down the hold. Henderson was released from prison a few years after the game, and currently works in the construction business.
Henderson's plow was actually a John Deere Model 314 tractor with a sweeper attached. When he was being interviewed by a TV reporter about the controversy, Henderson jokingly replied, "What are they gonna do, throw me in jail?" Smith's subsequent field goal gave the Patriots a 3-0 lead that held until the final gun. The following year, the NFL banned the use of snow plows on the field during a game. The moment will be an interactive feature of the new Hall at Patriot Place when it opens in 2008 next to Gillette Stadium.