Ten years ago, on May 1st, President George W. Bush stood on board of the USS Abraham Lincoln 30 miles off the coast of San Diego and declared “major combat operations in Iraq have ended” and that “in the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” It was a bold, impressive claim, given the war had officially begun only 43 days before. But, at the time, G.W. seemed like a pretty impressive man. Before the speech, he’d reportedly become the first sitting president to make an arrested landing on an aircraft carrier.
Bush’s Top Gun moment turned out to be astoundingly premature, of course. U.S. combat involvement in Iraq went on, and on; thousands more Americans died there. The speech, meanwhile, quickly became a cornerstone moment of the Bush era. Images from its broadcast – the nearby “Mission Accomplished” sign, Bush’s olive flight jacket and the ejection harness between his legs – in time accrued a farcical touch and made Bush’s words seem boastful.
For sure, we’ve seen some pretty outlandish claims and bad and/or off-base boasts made by influential sports figures.
Mostly, they’re predictions gone awry. And, mostly, they’re pretty laughable in hindsight. Which is the great thing separating sports and entertainment from more serious aspects of society.
Here are some of the worst sports boasts of all time:
5. My friend Andy Wehrman forwarded this to me: “Matt Hasselbeck’s miked up boast after the overtime coin-flip in a 2004 playoff game that “We want the ball and we’re going to score!” He promptly threw a pick-six to Al Harris, sealing the victory for the Packers.”
6. My friend Jay Jennings sent me this one: “Before Super Bowl I, Fred “The Hammer” Williamson boasted for the Kansas City Chiefs that he would knock the Packers’ wide receivers out of the game. He ended up being knocked out of the game himself. Also, Max McGee scored a TD against him while suffering from a hangover.”
7. And, finally, my man Benjamin Waldrum threw this one into the ring: ” David Haye versus Wladimir Klitschko. Haye called out the Klitschko brothers for two years, even having a shirt printed with him holding their severed heads. Then he proceeded to duck them for just as long. When he finally got a fight with an enraged Wlad, he flopped and fell, and then blamed his poor showing on a broken pinky toe.”
And I’ve got a few more instances published here.