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The Play turns 25

College basketball has “One Shining Moment” to celebrate the NCAA Tournament, but college football has the shining moment. So good was the ending to Cal v. Stanford in 1982 that it is simply called “The Play” and I think that no matter how many times you’ve seen it, you can always watch and listen again.

Today is the 25th anniversary of The Play and there are just so many good things about it:  

> The controversial third lateral when the Cal player might be down
> The subsequent panic by the play-by-play man
> The acrobatic fifth lateral when the Cal player leaps into three Stanford players and blindly pitches to a teammate
> The spastic reaction by the play-by-play … “THE BAND IS OUT ON THE FIELD!”
> The seek-and-destroy job on the trombone player
> The improvised, yet entirely accurate description at the conclusion of the play.

NPR has captured the play in a piece that marks the anniversary, including the famous call by Joe Starkey.

“Oh my God! The most amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart-rending, exciting, thrilling finish in the history of college football!” he screamed hoarsely into the microphone. “California has won the big game over Stanford.”

Stanford remains bitterly unconvinced it lost that game and maintains to this day the game should have ended on the third lateral. Last year, Berkeley provided video evidence to the contrary.