The Last Time the NFL Played on Tuesday...

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Citing public safety concerns related to the forecasted winter storm that ultimately dumped more than a foot of snow on much of the Philadelphia area, the National Football League postponed Sunday night’s Eagles-Vikings game until tonight. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, tonight’s game is the first NFL game played on a Tuesday since 1946. Here’s a brief history of that game and the people involved.

Why Tuesday?

The Boston Yanks and New York Giants were scheduled to open the 1946 NFL season under the lights at Boston’s Braves Field on Monday, September 30, but a “deluge of rain that drenched downtown Boston throughout the morning” forced the postponement of the game until Tuesday. From the New York Times: “Waiting until early afternoon for a change in conditions, Owner Ted Collins of the Yanks and Stout Steve Owen, the Giants’ coach, agreed to put the contest over until tomorrow night.”

Where was the postponement announced?

Sunday’s announcement echoed through family rooms and sports bars via the host of every fan’s pregame show of choice and left fantasy football players scrambling to adjust their lineups based on the news that the game would not be played in a whiteout. In 1946, the announcement came at the first weekly gathering of the Boston Yanks Marching and Chowder Club, which was held at the Parker House. The dignitaries present included Massachusetts Governor Maurice J. Tobin, Boston Mayor James. M. Curley, and NFL Commissioner Bert Bell.

Where’s the beef?

Tobin had recently wired President Truman that hospitals throughout Massachusetts were without meat. He had also launched an investigation into whether meat being hidden in storage was the cause of the meat famine affecting the country at the time. As reported in the New York Times, Tobin used the Marching and Chowder Club meeting as a forum to discuss the matter. “Commenting on the amount of beef in the Yanks and Giants squads, Governor Tobin…said he wished his investigators could find as much in their search. ‘The famine then would be at an end,’ he said.”

On Sunday, Philadelphia Governor Ed Rendell didn’t find anything funny about the NFL’s decision to postpone the game. “This is football! Good lord, Vince Lombardi would be spinning in his grave that we canceled the football game for the snow,” he said.

How did the coaches react to the news?

Eagles head coach Andy Reid, whose team is still in the hunt for a first-round bye in the playoffs, said the NFL made the right choice to postpone Sunday’s game and downplayed the difficulty of preparing for next week’s game against the Dallas Cowboys on short rest. Owen was a little more outspoken in 1946, with his Giants scheduled to play at Pittsburgh the following week. “It won’t give us much time to get in shape for the Steelers, and it might turn out where it would cost us a championship,” he said. To his credit, Owen didn’t criticize Collins’ decision. “With no break in sight, it would have been a bad night for football anyway, and especially for any customers,” he said.

What happened in the game?

Merle Hapes rushed for two touchdowns and Ken Strong added a field goal as New York dominated Boston, 17-0, in front of a small crowd of 16,500. The game story included no mention of the field conditions. The short week didn’t cost the Giants at Pittsburgh. They defeated the Steelers, 17-14, en route to a 7-3-1 regular season record.

Who was Merle Hapes?

The former Mississippi standout rushed for five touchdowns during the regular season, but was barred from playing in the 1946 championship after he and quarterback Frank Filchock were reportedly offered bribes to fix the game against the Chicago Bears. Filchock denied the offer and was allowed to play in the game, a 24-14 Giants loss. Bell banned Hapes indefinitely during the offseason for “acts detrimental to the NFL and to pro football.” Hapes’ suspension was lifted in 1954, but he didn’t play another down in the NFL. The policy that requires NFL teams to report injuries in advance of a game was first instituted by Bell for the 1947 season, and many believe it was in direct response to the gambling rumors surrounding the 1946 championship. Bell hoped the policy would help prevent gamblers from manipulating the betting line by securing insider information about a player’s status.

Who was Ken Strong?

Strong, the other player to score in the NFL’s last Tuesday night game, played several different positions, including fullback, before he became a kicking specialist for the Giants. Strong accounted for 17 points in “The Sneakers Game,” the Giants’ 1934 championship game win against the Bears. The game, which earned its nickname after the Giants’ equipment manager borrowed sneakers from nearby Manhattan College to help New York’s players get better traction on the frozen field, ranks No. 8 on the NFL’s top 10 list of bad weather games. Strong is often credited as being the first player to successfully convert a fair catch kick, which allows a team to attempt a field goal from the line of scrimmage on the first play after a fair catch. Only three other players have successfully converted a fair catch kick in NFL history.

7 Tips for Winning an Arm Wrestling Match

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iStock

Geoff Hale was playing Division II college baseball in Kansas City, Missouri, when he sat down and started flipping through the channels on his TV. There—probably on TBS—was Over the Top, the 1987 arm wrestling melodrama starring Sylvester Stallone as Lincoln Hawke, a truck driver who aspires to win his estranged son’s affections. And to do that, he has to win a national arm wrestling tournament. Obviously.

Neither the worst nor the best of Stallone’s efforts, Over the Top made Hale recall his high school years and how the fringe sport had satisfied his athletic interests, which weren't being met by baseball. “I had never lost a match,” Hale tells Mental Floss of his arm wrestling prowess. “The movie reminded me that I was good at it.”

That was 13 years ago. Now a professional competitor known as the Haleraiser, the full-time petroleum geologist has won several major titles. While you may not have the constitution for the surprisingly traumatic sport (more on that later), you might still want to handle yourself in the event of a spontaneous match breaking out. We asked Hale for some tips on what to do when you’re confronted with the opportunity to achieve a modest amount of glory while arm-grappling on a beer-stained table. This is what he told us.

1. KNOW THAT SIZE DOESN'T MATTER.

A child uses books to help in arm-wrestling an adult
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Well, it does. But really only if your opponent knows what they’re doing. Otherwise, having a bowling pin for a forearm isn’t anything to be wary about. If anything, your densely-built foe may have a false sense of confidence. “Everyone has arm-wrestled since they were a kid and thinks they know what it is,” Hale says. “It looks easy, but there’s actually a very complex set of movements. It’s good to check your ego at the door.”

2. PRETEND YOU’RE PART OF THE TABLE.

A man offers to arm wrestle from behind a table
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When you square up with your opposition to lock hands—thumb digging into the fleshy part, fingers wrapped around the back—don’t lean over the table with your butt in the air. And don’t make the common mistake of sitting down for a match, either. “It limits you from a technique standpoint,” Hale says, and could even open you up to injury.

Instead, you want to plant the foot that matches your dominant hand under the table with your hip touching the edge. With your free hand, grip the edge or push down on the top for stability. “Pretend like you’re part of the table,” Hale says. That way, you’ll be able to recruit your shoulders, triceps, and biceps into the competition.

3. REMEMBER TO BREATHE.

Two men engage in an arm wrestling match
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If you’re turning the color of a lobster, you’re probably holding in your breath. “Don’t,” Hale says. Remember to continue taking in air through your nose. There’s no benefit to treating the match like a diving expedition. The lack of oxygen will just tire your muscles out faster.

4. BEAT THE HAND, NOT THE ARM.

Two hands appear in close-up during an arm wrestling contest
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There are three basic techniques in arm wrestling, according to Hale: the shoulder press, the hook, and the top roll. The shoulder press recruits the shoulder right behind the arm, pushing the opposing appendage down as if you were performing a triceps pressdown. The hook is more complex, varying pressure from all sides and incorporating pulling motions to bend the wrist backward. For the best chance of winning, opt for the top roll, which involves sliding your hand up your opponent’s so your grip is attacking the top portion nearest the fingers. That way, he or she is recruiting fewer major muscle groups to resist. “When you beat the hand, the arm follows,” Hale says. Because this is more strategy than strength, you might wind up toppling some formidable-looking opponents.

5. IN A STALEMATE, WAIT FOR AN OPENING.

A man and woman engage in an arm wrestling contest
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While lots of arm wrestling matches end quickly, others become a battle of attrition. When you find yourself locked up in the middle of the table, wait for your opponent to relax. They almost always will. “In a neutral position, it’s good to stay static, keeping your body and arm locked up,” Hale says. “You’re just waiting for your opponent to make a mistake.” The moment you feel their arm lose tension, attack.

6. TRY SCREAMING.

A woman screams while winning an arm wrestling contest
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Arm wrestlers play all kinds of psychological games, and while some might be immune to trash talk, it’s likely your rival will be influenced by some selective insults. “You can make someone lose their focus easily,” Hale says. “In a stalemate, you can give them a hard time, tell them they’re not strong. It’s intimidating to be out of breath and to see someone just talking.”

7. WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, GO SECOND.

A man struggles while losing an arm wrestling contest
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Arm wrestling exacts a heavy toll on winners and losers alike: The prolonged muscle contractions can easily fatigue people not used to the exertion. If you fear a loss from a bigger, stronger opponent, conspire to have them wrestle someone else first, then take advantage of their fatigue.

If all goes well, you might want to consider pursuing the sport on more competitive levels—but you probably shouldn’t. “It takes a toll on the body,” Hale says. “I’ve got tendonitis and don’t compete as much as I used to. On the amateur level, it’s common to see arm breaks, usually the humerus [upper arm] bone. The body was not really made for arm wrestling.”

Does the University of Florida Still Make Money Off Gatorade?

George Frey, Getty Images
George Frey, Getty Images

In September 1965, 10 freshmen players on the University of Florida's Gators football team agreed to let the school's kidney disease specialist, Robert Cade, assess their hydration levels during practices. He took urine samples. He interviewed athletes. He asked to take their rectal temperature during games.

The players agreed to all but the last request. In analyzing his results, Cade discovered that the wilting heat, coupled with a lack of hydration, resulted in subjects who were very low on electrolytes like sodium and potassium, sometimes losing six to nine pounds of water per practice session—with some footballers having anecdotes of 15 to 20 pounds lost during games. Cade felt that players suffered from low blood volume and low blood sugar. Many, in fact, were being hospitalized after overexerting themselves without drinking enough water, traditionally seen as a way of building toughness in players. Those who remained on field were surely not playing up to their potential.

Cade mixed water, sugar, salt, and lemon juice, then ordered them to drink the solution to keep their bodies in balance. By 1967, the Gators were all consuming "Gatorade," and incidences of heat stroke fell sharply. The Gators secured a 9-2 record in 1966; the team became renowned for their renewed energy during the second half, and ignited a transformation in sports science. Decades later and backed by a massive promotional machine, Gatorade has permeated both professional sports and amateur athletics alike, replenishing electrolytes lost during physical activity. Roughly 632 million cases were sold in 2013 alone.

With the sports drink having been born on the Gators's playing field and invented by a University of Florida employee, it's not hard to see why both Cade's estate (he died in 2007) and the school get a percentage of royalties from sales, an agreement that's still in place today. But if they had their way, the university would be getting all of it.

A University of Florida coach is soaked in Gatorade by his players after a win
Donald Miralle, Getty Images

After Cade and his co-researchers finalized Gatorade’s formula, Cade approached the school's head of sponsored research to see if they wanted to come to an arrangement over the rights to the drink (Cade wanted $10,000) and determine if they wanted to try and sell it to a national distributor. According to Cade, University of Florida (UF) officials weren't interested, so he struck a deal with beverage maker Stokely Van-Camp in 1967.

Stokely's offer was for Cade and his cohorts—now known as the Gatorade Trust—to receive a $25,000 cash payment, a $5000 bonus, and a five-cent royalty on each gallon of Gatorade sold. When UF realized that they had been shortsighted in assessing the brand's mass market appeal—and that they were missing out on profits—they allegedly told Cade that the drink belonged to them.

"Go to hell," Cade responded, a statement that kicked off several years of litigation.

While Cade was a university employee, funds for his work actually came from the government—specifically, the Department of Health. He also managed to avoid signing an agreement solidifying his inventions as school property. For these reasons, and because both sides anticipated an endless and costly legal jiu-jitsu match in their futures, the two accepted a federal ruling in 1972. The Gatorade Trust would continue to receive their royalties, and the school would take 20 percent of the disbursement.

Initially, that meant one cent for every gallon of Gatorade sold, a fraction of the five cents owed to the Trust. In September 1973, following the first full year of the agreement, UF made $115,296 in royalties and earmarked the funds for kidney research and marine science.

Gatorade cups are shown stacked in a locker room
J. Meric, Getty Images

That's a considerable sum, but it's nothing compared to what poured out in the decades to come. When Stokely Van-Camp was purchased by Quaker Oats in 1983, they kicked off a heavy promotional campaign that highlighted Gatorade in commercials and sponsored teams. Coaches began getting doused with jugs full of Gatorade following big victories. When PepsiCo bought Quaker for $13.4 billion in 2000, they leveraged their marketing muscle to further engender the brand.

Consequently, both the Gatorade Trust and UF have profited immensely. As of 2015, the Trust had earned well over $1 billion in royalties, with 20 percent, or about $281 million, going to UF. The five-cent per gallon formula has been replaced by a percentage: between 1.9 percent and 3.6 percent depending on how much Gatorade is sold annually, according to ESPN's Darren Rovell, with the University taking a fifth of that. The funds have been invested in the school's Genetics Institute, the Whitney Marine Laboratory in St. Augustine, and to help disperse seed money for grants.

The school naturally has an affinity for the stuff, but that can occasionally come into conflict with other marketing deals. In 2016, the University of Florida’s women's basketball team played in the NCAA Tournament, which was sponsored by Powerade, a competing sports drink made by Coca-Cola. As a compromise, the players dumped their Gatorade into Powerade bottles and cups. The beverage born on campus—one that's netted them nearly $300 million to date—always comes first.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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