By: Scott RossPublished: October 12, 2022

Leon Lett

Leon Lett was born October 12, 1968, and despite being a two-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champion, he stands today as a cautionary tale for athletes everywhere.

On January 31, 1993, Lett was a member of the Dallas Cowboys, who were playing in their first Super Bowl since 1979. Their opponent that day was the Buffalo Bills, led by Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas, who had lost the two previous Super Bowls.

By halftime, Dallas was up 28-10, though by the end of the third quarter, the Bills had inched closer, trailing 31-17. But then came a brutal four-minute stretch, as Dallas QB Troy Aikman completed a 45-yard TD pass, then Dallas' Thomas Everett made an interception on the ensuing drive, which Emmitt Smith converted into a 10-yard touchdown run, and then on the very next drive Dallas' Ken Norton Jr. recovered a fumble from Buffalo's Frank Reich and ran it 9 yards for another touchdown. With seven and a half minutes to play, the Bills were suddenly down 52-17.

On the first play of the next drive of the game, with less than five minutes to play, Reich dropped back to pass and quickly found himself under pressure from the Cowboys' pass rush. He started rolling left, but Dallas' Jim Jeffcoat wrapped his arms around him from behind, knocking loose the football at the 36 yard line. The ball bounced once and straight into the arms of Lett, who began to race back up the field with no one between him and the end zone.

As Lett streaked toward what should've been Dallas' eighth touchdown, Bills receiver Don Bebee gave chase. Lett held the ball aloft in triumph when he was about ten yards from the end zone, but as he lowered the ball, Bebee lunged forward and swiped down with both arms, knocking the ball loose just short of the end zone and denying Lett his glory. Ten months later, on Thanksgiving Day, Lett outdid himself.

Nov 25, 1993 was an unusually cold and snowy day in Dallas, as the grounds crew had to plow a thick film of slush off the five-yard markers ahead of the Cowboys' game against the Miami Dolphins. Dallas was up 16-14 as Miami lined up to attempt a 41-yard last-minute game-winning field goal. Incredibly, Dallas' Jimmie Jones managed to block the kick and the ball began to spin around on down at the 10-yard line--Dallas had held on to win. Well, they could have, but Lett couldn't resist the loose ball, elbowing his way through a crowd of Dolphins in an effort to gain control. Why? Nobody knows. But instead of securing possession, Lett kicked the ball away, thus making it a live ball, which Miami recovered on the one-yard line with three seconds on the clock--this time the kick went through the uprights for a 16-14 Dolphins victory.

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