In college football, there is a very famous gaffe that earned one man an infamous nickname. “Wrong Way Riegels” was tabbed on Roy Riegels when he played for the California University Golden Bears. Riegels was a center and also played defense. In a game against Georgia Tech for the national title, Jack “Stumpy” Thomason running back for the Yellow Jackets, fumbled the ball on one play and Riegels picked up the loose rock and instead of heading for Tech’s end zone, he began to run towards his own in the wrong direction. With teammates Benny Lom yelling at his teammate to stop he caught up to Riegels as did a handful of Georgia Tech players. Riegels was stopped short of the end zone. California opted to punt and the kick was blocked for a safety. The final score was 8-7 Georgia Tech with the safety being the difference in determining a national champion.
Could this same thing happen in professional football? It did. Once a great defensive end, Jim Marshall who played with the Minnesota Vikings often gets asked about the game of October 25, 1964. During the game in San Francisco, 49ers running Billy Kilmer, who would later become a quarterback, caught a pass from George Mira but while trying to fight off would-be tacklers Kilmer lost control of the ball and Marshall picked up the fumble. Just like Roy Riegels, Marshall began to run with the ball but in the WRONG direction. This time unlike Riegels, Marshall reached the end zone and thinking he had just scored a touchdown, tossed the ball into the air giving the 49ers a safety. The run went for 66 yards and he was congratulated in the end zone by San Francisco’s Bruce Bosley. At the time Riegels was still alive and took a jab at Marshall’s blunder by sending him a note that said: "Welcome to the Club."
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