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Today is the 35th anniversary of the infamous snowplow game which was held on Dec. 12, 1982. It was without a doubt one of the strangest games I have ever been a part of.
I remember it was one of the few times that we went up to play the Patriots that we actually stayed in downtown Boston. I woke up that morning and looked out the window and just saw snow everywhere. I could see it was going to be that kind of day. It was always tough for us to play up in New England, but during the game the snow was on the field nonstop. They had a guy who turned out to be on work release, Mark Henderson, who went straight out of jail to the sidelines.
Security wasn’t nearly as strong then as it is now. During every break, he would drive the snowplow and clear off the yard lines just so you could see where you were out on the field. He was doing that throughout the game. There were two field goal attempts in the game and neither was made. The kickers couldn’t get any footing because under the snow there was ice. I remember standing on the field and they were going to attempt another field goal and I see the snowplow going on the field. I didn’t think anything of it because he had been clearing the yard lines and it was a stop in play. He got about 10 or 15 feet away from me then he veered back on to the field and went right to where the kicker was and he cleared out a path for him. Their kicker (John Smith) then kicks the only field goal of the game and we lose 3-0.
Coach (Don) Shula started yelling from the sideline. He was just livid. The one thing about Coach Shula is that we were always the least penalized team in the league. He believed in the letter of the law. If it wasn’t legal he wasn’t going to do it. Even if he could gain an advantage, he wasn’t going to do it. So anytime anyone circumvented the rules, he just went livid. He was beside himself on the sideline though out the whole thing, but, obviously, nothing ever came about it.
Later that same season, we played the Patriots in a playoff game in the Orange Bowl. I remember coming out to the field and seeing a pile of snow with a snowplow sitting on top of it in the west end zone. I thought that kind of motivated us that day and I’m sure it kind of affected them as well.
It’s funny, the Dolphins played up there many years later when they were closing the stadium before they moved into Gillette Stadium. They had a ceremony where they brought back some of the legends who had played there like Russ Francis and Steve Grogan. I’ll never forget who got the loudest ovation. It was Mark Henderson.