BOSTON — There was a time when athletes were not only willing to come into a local TV station’s studio, but they were also willing to have a lot of fun with a segment. Occasionally, that fun led to something getting broken.
But that’s great television, something Boston sports legend Bob Lobel knows a thing or two about. The former WBZ-TV Sports Director had a knack for producing some of the greatest sports segments of all time, whether it was the always entertaining “Sports Spotlight” or any of his incredible sitdown interviews on Sports Final.
Sometimes, you just need someone to come into studio and kick around a football. And if kicking around that football happens to break a light hanging in the studio, so be it.
That was the case in 2002, when Adam Vinatieri brought his golden right leg into the WBZ-TV studio to recreate one of his famous kicks from the Snow Bowl at Gillette Stadium. Vinatieri booted three field goals in the driving snow that Saturday evening in Foxboro, including a 45-yarder with just over a minute left to tie the game at 13-13.
“The 45-yarder into the wind, everyone considers that the greatest field goal in the history of the NFL,” Lobel told WBZ-TV’s Steve Burton on Sunday night’s special edition of Sports Final
To recreate the magic from New England’s epic 16-13 win over the Raiders, Lobel brought in Vinatieri to kick, Steve DeOssie to serve as the long-snapper, and Scott Zolak to play holder. The scene wouldn’t be complete without some “snow” on the ground, so a white sheet was placed on the floor.
“I thought, ‘this is going to be great — unless he slips on the sheet and breaks his ankle or something.’ And there goes the field goal kicker for the Patriots, one of the greatest of all time,” recalls Lobel.
Burton reminded Lobel that his advice to Vinatieri was simply, “Don’t get hurt.”
“That’s good advice,” replied Lobel.
The snap was good. (Eventually.) The hold was good. (Eventually.) The kick was good. At least, it was good if you wanted to see an expensive piece of equipment shatter on television.
“I was afraid he was going to destroy the station,” Lobel said of Vinatieri’s kick. “And then DeOssie ran for his life. He ran like a chicken with his head cut off to get away from the falling light that Vinatieri kicked.
“It was fun,” Lobel reminisced. “That’s when you could do things and players actually came into the station.”
Reliving such a great Sports Final memory must have everyone asking, “Why can’t we get interviews like that?”
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