Predicting the Future is No GuaranteePosted: October 9, 2008
“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.”
— Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929
We’re all experts in this world. We think we know it all,
We see the crystal ball. We foresee the future.
In sports, as in life, we make predictions. We guarantee.
Oh sure, they’ll cover the spread. This one’s a lock. We’re gonna win.
But for every Joe Namath there’s a Fred ‘The Hammer’ Williamson. For every Mark Messier, a Patrick Ewing.
“640K ought to be enough for anybody.”
— Bill Gates, 1981 ____________________________________________________________________
In 1969, quarterback Joe Namath brashly predicted his Jets would upset the heavily-favored Colts in the Super Bowl. They did of course, cementing the legend of Broadway Joe.
Two years earlier, Kansas City defensive back Fred ‘The Hammer’ Williamson, not only predicted his Chiefs would beat the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I. Furthermore, Williamson vowed that his trademark forearm chop to the helmet – a move he dubbed “The Hammer” – would rain down on Packers receivers all day.
Well the Pack crushed the Chiefs 35-10, and The Hammer was carried off on a stretcher after getting trampled by running back Donny Anderson. Asked afterward about Williamson, Packers coach Vince Lombardi said, “Was he out there? The only time I noticed him was when they carried him off.”
“We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.”
— Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962
Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics was one of the greatest players in NBA history. During Bird’s rookie year, one NBA general manager was asked what he thoughts about Bird.
The GM admitted Bird was a pretty good shooter and a better passer than people thought. However, the GM did not think that Larry Legend was mentally tough enough for an NBA season. Yeah right.
“I’m just glad it’ll be Clark Gable who’s falling on his face, and not Gary Cooper.”
— Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in “Gone With The Wind”
Patrick Ewing, the Knicks center from Georgetown, was famous for issuing guarantees….guarantees which rarely, if ever, came true. In 1997, Ewing’s line to the media was “See you in Chicago,” by which he meant the Knicks would beat the Heat in a seventh game at Miami to face the Bulls in the Eastern finals. The Heat won.
Ewing ended his Knicks career by guaranteeing a victory in Game 6 of the 2000 Eastern Conference Finals against the Pacers. He missed his final six shots in a 93-80 defeat.
Contrast that with Mark Messier of the New York Rangers, who not only guaranteed a victory against the New Jersey Devils in Game Six of the 1994 NHL playoffs, but scored a hat trick in the third period to clinch a 4-2 win. The Rangers went on to win the series, and then Messier scored the decisive goal in Game Seven as the Rangers beat Vancouver to win their first Stanley Cup in 54 years.
“Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances.”
— Dr. Lee DeForest, Inventor of TV
After winning the overtime coin toss in a 2004 playoff game at Green Bay, Matt Hasselbeck, the Seattle Seahawks quarterback, said, “We want the ball, and we’re gonna score.”
Shortly afterwards, Hasselbeck threw the ball right to Packers defensive back Al Harris, who returned it for the winning touchdown.
“This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”
— Western Union internal memo, 1876