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Shattered Dreams: 9 Tales of Damaged Trophies

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Trent Richardson with the BCS trophy. © Tyler Kaufman/Icon SMI/Corbis

Carleton Tinker, the father of Alabama long snapper Carson Tinker, accidentally shattered the Crimson Tide’s 2012 BCS championship trophy last month. Tinker can take comfort in the fact that he wasn’t the first person to break the crystal football, which is one of nine other examples of accidentally damaged trophies.

1. Terrible First Impression

Florida recruit Orson Charles was touring the Gators’ football stadium in 2008 and accidentally knocked the 2006 BCS championship trophy – a Waterford crystal football – off its pedestal. “If you were outside the stadium, it was so loud, I think you would’ve heard it shatter,” Charles told the Tampa Tribune. “I just stood there with this baby look and said, ‘Sorry.’” Florida assistant coach John Hevesy jokingly told Charles that he had to commit to the Gators, but the highly touted tight end went to Georgia instead. Charles was a fourth-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in this year’s NFL Draft.

2. One Shining Moment, One Broken Trophy

In 1939, Oregon defeated Ohio State, 46-33, in the first NCAA men’s basketball championship, the culmination of an eight-team, single-elimination tournament. The trophy was delivered to the Webfoots’ locker room in two pieces after Oregon guard Bobby Arnet broke the trophy while trying to save a loose ball during the game.

3. Truman Fumbles the Independence Bowl Trophy

Hours before North Carolina and Missouri squared off in the 2011 Independence Bowl, Missouri’s mascot, Truman the Tiger, dropped the game trophy—a crystal bowl—during a photo opportunity. Missourian reporter Harry Plumer tweeted from the scene: “Asked Truman if he broke the trophy. He nodded. Asked him what happened. Threw his paws in the air, then covered his eyes to mimic sobbing.” The Tigers won the game and hoisted a replacement bowl.

4. The Wheels on the Bus Crush the Copa del Rey Trophy

Sergio Ramos doesn’t have a whole lot of experience using his hands and it showed when the defender dropped the 33-pound Copa del Rey trophy under the wheels of a moving bus after Real Madrid defeated Barcelona in 2011. Emergency services gathered the broken pieces.

5. Kelly Bates, Canadian Trophy Buster

B.C. Lions offensive guard Kelly Bates was a little too excited after his team defeated the Montreal Alouettes in the 2006 Canadian Football League Grey Cup. “I can’t believe it,” Bates said. “I did the same thing when I was at the University of Saskatchewan. I’m not a strong man, but I grabbed the Cup, gave it a shake, and it just broke.” According to SLAM!, a Canadian sports website, the Lions were the second Vancouver-based team to break a championship trophy. In 1979, the Vancouver Whitecaps of the North American Soccer League broke the trophy after defeating the Tampa Bay Rowdies for the league title.

6. Rockets Rough Up Knicks, Larry O’Brien Trophy

The Houston Rockets handled the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy in much the same way they handled the New York Knicks in the seven-game, rough-and-tumble 1994 NBA Finals. “We broke that son of a gun,” Houston forward Matt Bullard said. “We were handing it around, and the ball just came off.”

7. Yankees Damage World Series Trophy

The 1996 World Series marked the Yankees’ first championship since 1978, so the team can be forgiven for snapping the flag representing the Cleveland Indians off the trophy during the postgame celebration. The Yankees have had a little more experience handling championship hardware since then.

8. Eddie George’s Heisman Loses a Finger

Eddie George was at La Guardia Airport, preparing to return to Columbus after being awarded the Heisman Trophy in 1995. Security officials insisted that George put his new hardware through the X-Ray machine. It emerged on the other side with a bent middle finger and missing the tip of its right index finger. “I’m kind of mad about it, but it doesn’t matter as long as I’ve got it,” George told reporters with a grin. Airport officials promised to pay for the repairs.

9. The Stanley Cup Goes For a Dip

USA TODAY hockey writer Kevin Allen wrote a book about all the crazy adventures of hockey’s iconic trophy. In “Why Is The Stanley Cup in Mario Lemieux’s Swimming Pool?” Allen recounts the story of Phil Bourque throwing the Cup from the top of an ornamental waterfall into Lemieux’s pool in 1991. It took several players to retrieve the Cup, which was reportedly lopsided after being removed from the water.

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10 Memorable Neil deGrasse Tyson Quotes
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is America's preeminent badass astrophysicist. He's a passionate advocate for science, NASA, and education. He's also well-known for a little incident involving Pluto. And the man holds nearly 20 honorary doctorates (in addition to his real one). In honor of his 59th birthday, here are 10 of our favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quotes.


"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it."
—From Real Time with Bill Maher.


"As a fraction of your tax dollar today, what is the total cost of all spaceborne telescopes, planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?' Answer: one-half of one percent of each tax dollar. Half a penny. I’d prefer it were more: perhaps two cents on the dollar. Even during the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending amounted to little more than four cents on the tax dollar." 
—From Space Chronicles


"Once upon a time, people identified the god Neptune as the source of storms at sea. Today we call these storms hurricanes ... The only people who still call hurricanes acts of God are the people who write insurance forms."
—From Death by Black Hole


"Countless women are alive today because of ideas stimulated by a design flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope." (Editor's note: technology used to repair the Hubble Space Telescope's optical problems led to improved technology for breast cancer detection.)
—From Space Chronicles



"I knew Pluto was popular among elementary schoolkids, but I had no idea they would mobilize into a 'Save Pluto' campaign. I now have a drawer full of hate letters from hundreds of elementary schoolchildren (with supportive cover letters from their science teachers) pleading with me to reverse my stance on Pluto. The file includes a photograph of the entire third grade of a school posing on their front steps and holding up a banner proclaiming, 'Dr. Tyson—Pluto is a Planet!'"
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


"In [Titanic], the stars above the ship bear no correspondence to any constellations in a real sky. Worse yet, while the heroine bobs ... we are treated to her view of this Hollywood sky—one where the stars on the right half of the scene trace the mirror image of the stars in the left half. How lazy can you get?"
—From Death by Black Hole


"On Friday the 13th, April 2029, an asteroid large enough to fill the Rose Bowl as though it were an egg cup will fly so close to Earth that it will dip below the altitude of our communication satellites. We did not name this asteroid Bambi. Instead, we named it Apophis, after the Egyptian god of darkness and death."
—From Space Chronicles


"[L]et us not fool ourselves into thinking we went to the Moon because we are pioneers, or discoverers, or adventurers. We went to the Moon because it was the militaristically expedient thing to do."
—From The Sky Is Not the Limit


Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
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Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life.
Read more at:

"Perhaps we've never been visited by aliens because they have looked upon Earth and decided there's no sign of intelligent life."


A still from Steven Spielberg's E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Universal Studios
"[I]f an alien lands on your front lawn and extends an appendage as a gesture of greeting, before you get friendly, toss it an eightball. If the appendage explodes, then the alien was probably made of antimatter. If not, then you can proceed to take it to your leader."
—From Death by Black Hole
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40 Fun Facts About Sesame Street
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Now in its 47th season, Sesame Street is one of television's most iconic programs—and it's not just for kids. We're big fans of the Street, and to prove it, here are some of our favorite Sesame facts from previous stories and our Amazing Fact Generator.

Sesame Workshop

1. Oscar the Grouch used to be orange. Jim Henson decided to make him green before season two.

2. How did Oscar explain the color change? He said he went on vacation to the very damp Swamp Mushy Muddy and turned green overnight.

3. During a 2004 episode, Cookie Monster said that before he started eating cookies, his name was Sid.

4. In 1980, C-3PO and R2-D2 visited Sesame Street. They played games, sang songs, and R2-D2 fell in love with a fire hydrant.

5. Mr. Snuffleupagus has a first name—Aloysius

6. Ralph Nader stopped by in 1988 and sang "a consumer advocate is a person in your neighborhood."

7. Caroll Spinney said he based Oscar's voice on a cab driver from the Bronx who brought him to the audition.

8. In 1970, Ernie reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 with the timeless hit "Rubber Duckie."

9. One of Count von Count's lady friends is Countess von Backwards, who's also obsessed with counting but likes to do it backwards.

10. Sesame Street made its Afghanistan debut in 2011 with Baghch-e-Simsim (Sesame Garden). Big Bird, Grover and Elmo are involved.

11. According to Muppet Wiki, Oscar the Grouch and Count von Count were minimized on Baghch-e-Simsim "due to cultural taboos against trash and vampirism."

12. Before Giancarlo Esposito was Breaking Bad's super intense Gus Fring, he played Big Bird's camp counselor Mickey in 1982.

13. Thankfully, those episodes are available on YouTube.

14. How big is Big Bird? 8'2". (Pictured with First Lady Pat Nixon.)

15. In 2002, the South African version (Takalani Sesame) added an HIV-positive Muppet named Kami.

16. Six Republicans on the House Commerce Committee wrote a letter to PBS president Pat Mitchell warning that Kami was not appropriate for American children, and reminded Mitchell that their committee controlled PBS' funding.

17. Sesame Street's resident game show host Guy Smiley was using a pseudonym. His real name was Bernie Liederkrantz.

18. Bert and Ernie have been getting questioned about their sexuality for years. Ernie himself, as performed by Steve Whitmere, has weighed in: “All that stuff about me and Bert? It’s not true. We’re both very happy, but we’re not gay,”

19. A few years later, Bert (as performed by Eric Jacobson) answered the same question by saying, “No, no. In fact, sometimes we are not even friends; he can be a pain in the neck.”

20. In the first season, both Superman and Batman appeared in short cartoons produced by Filmation. In one clip, Batman told Bert and Ernie to stop arguing and take turns choosing what’s on TV.

21. In another segment, Superman battled a giant chimp.

22. Telly was originally "Television Monster," a TV-obsessed Muppet whose eyes whirled around as he watched.

23. According to Sesame Workshop, Elmo is the only non-human to testify before Congress.

24. He lobbied for more funding for music education, so that "when Elmo goes to school, there will be the instruments to play."

25. In the early 1990s, soon after Jim Henson’s passing, a rumor circulated that Ernie would be killed off in order to teach children about death, as they'd done with Mr. Hooper.

26. According to Snopes, the rumor may have spread thanks to New Hampshire college student, Michael Tabor, who convinced his graduating class to wear “Save Ernie” beanies and sign a petition to persuade Sesame Workshop to let Ernie live.

27. By the time Tabor was corrected, the newspapers had already picked up the story.

28. Sesame Street’s Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente joined Sesame Workshop as a production assistant and has worked her way to the top.

29. Originally, Count von Count was more sinister. He could hypnotize and stun people.

30. According to Sesame Workshop, all Sesame Street's main Muppets have four fingers except Cookie Monster, who has five.

31. The episode with Mr. Hooper's funeral aired on Thanksgiving Day in 1983. That date was chosen because families were more likely to be together at that time, in case kids had questions or needed emotional support.

32. Mr. Hooper’s first name was Harold.

33. Big Bird sang "Bein' Green" at Jim Henson's memorial service.

34. As Chris Higgins put it, the performance was "devastating."

35. Oscar's Israeli counterpart is Moishe Oofnik, whose last name means “grouch” in Hebrew.

36. Nigeria's version of Cookie Monster eats yams. His catchphrase: "ME WANT YAM!"

37. Sesame's Roosevelt Franklin ran a school, where he spoke in scat and taught about Africa. Some parents hated him, so in 1975 he got the boot, only to inspire Gob Bluth’s racist puppet Franklin on Arrested Development 28 years later.

38. Our good friend and contributor Eddie Deezen was the voice of Donnie Dodo in the 1985 classic Follow That Bird.

39. Cookie Monster evolved from The Wheel-Stealer—a snack-pilfering puppet Jim Henson created to promote Wheels, Crowns and Flutes in the 1960s.

40. This puppet later was seen eating a computer in an IBM training film and on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Thanks to Stacy Conradt, Joe Hennes, Drew Toal, and Chris Higgins for their previous Sesame coverage!

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2012.


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