Tackle was Beebe-esque

John D'Onofrio

It's still talked fondly about in Super Bowl lore.

The Bills were getting whipped by the Dallas Cowboys (SB XXVII on Jan, 31, 1993) and Leon Lett of the Cowboys picked up a Frank Reich fumble and was rumble'n, stumble'n his way down the right sideline for another touchdown.

Bills fans everywhere were probably throwing up by now watching this debacle of a game. And now this big burly lineman who probably runs a :15.0 40 is taunting us while he struts towards the goal line?

But suddenly, literally out of nowhere on the square TV screen, came this tiny blue streak, Bills' wide receiver Don Beebe, who not only stopped the touchdown, but knocked the ball out of a premature-celebrating Lett's hands for a touchback.

It was a symbolic victory for many Bills' fans in the otherwise painful, four Super Bowl loss era.

Beebe, who went on to win a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers in XXXI (35-21 over Drew Bledsoe and the New England Patriots), continues to garner tremendous respect throughout the league and beyond for that single play, proving you can gain life-long respect even while losing a sporting event by a large margin. 

Flash forward to Last Saturday's Lockport  Lions' 49-14 loss to visiting Orchard Park at Max D. Lederer Stadium and I saw a similar play unfold, minus the taunting.

Put yourself in Lockport defensive back Collin Thompson's shoes for a moment — someone who wasn't even born yet when Beebe made that great play.

You're down 42-0 and you see a Quakers player across the field streaking down the left sideline towards the end zone.

You're on the other side of the field. What do you do? Call it a day? Think about that pizza after the game? Give it 90 percent and run through the motions, letting the guy score so you don't have to run that far and end the mile-long sprint by having to dive at someone's feet?

There were an infinite number of reasons for No. 35 Thompson to head back to the bench for a respite and a drink of water, but he chose another path ...

The outstanding track sprinter took off as fast as the good Lord allows him, like he was competing in the finals of the indoor 300m dash. Standing on the LHS sidelines, I could see the back of the OP player (junior running back Tommy Sullivan) in his white jersey as he ran to pay dirt, but there was that same blue streak coming towards him from my right to left.

I thought, “There's no way this guy's gonna catch him,” but Thompson was possessed getting to the only place on the football field he could finally nab Sullivan — the one-inch line — and there he knocked him out of bounds after a 60-yard jaunt, saving a touchdown.

The Quakers eventually scored their touchdown, making the score 49-0, but Thompson's play gave the Lions' much-needed life and they went on to score two offensive touchdowns.

It was the kind of play that makes you proud to be from this community — to see a young man prove himself like that in the face of such adversity.

You can teach a young person how to throw and catch, how to tackle, how to kick, etc. but you can't “teach” the desire to run clear across a football field, down by six touchdowns, just to tackle a guy at the one-yard-line.

No, that can't be taught. That has to come from the heart, a good heart, a good teammate, a good example to every other young person watching the game. 

Thompson gives us reason to come out and continue supporting the Lions' sports programs — quality coaches and character student athletes.

A loss is a loss — regardless of the score — for only one week in high school football.

A great play like that lives on forever.

Follow US&J sports reporter/editor John D'Onofrio on Twitter at @JohnD'Onofrio7.

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