From fans chugging beers on camera, fights in the stands and out of them, fantasy football punishments that have gone viral, and now Taylor Swift charging the crowd, there is never a dull moment while at a football game. And while some aren’t seen in person, the power of a video camera and an upload button has led to thousands of viral moments over the years.
However, one moment that still is so crazy to me nearly 50 years after it happened is a fan catching on fire during the NFC Championship in 1977. That year’s championship game was held in Texas, where the Dallas Cowboys took on the Minnesota Vikings.
While the game was exciting, what was happening outside the stands was even more so. A man dressed in a Frosty the Snowman suit bumped into a woman selling hot chocolate on the breezeway, causing the liquid fuel pack to slosh out of its carrier. The fuel got onto the costume (which you can only assume was 100% polyester), and it went up in flames.
The commentators moved from what was happening on the field to note the commotion from the crowd.
“Meanwhile, a difference of opinion down below. A problem of some kind is down below. And there it is, a blanket evidently and inadvertently catching on fire. At first, they told us a blanket, my goodness, it’s a man!”
The camera shows the wild scene of the fan rushing through the crowd, trying to get to the ground fully engulfed in flames. The people around him appeared to be helping him until the camera returned to the game.
The next shot you get of the man in the crowd is him on a stretcher being taken out of the stadium.
“Well, you might take a moment or two out of this ballgame, and your prayers would certainly be appreciated for that poor soul being taken out. The gentleman who, one way or another, was on fire as you saw.”
The game then resumes its broadcast, and it is noted that they kept giving updates about the man who went up in flames throughout the rest of the game as he was given medical attention.
I had seen this clip a few times growing up and always felt so bad for whoever was in the suit that caught fire, but it wasn’t until recently that I was informed who this fan was. The fan that caught fire is one of my father’s friends and my realtor.
Thankfully, Dan made a full recovery but talks about a story that most people would believe if there was no video footage to accompany it.
While the fights during games today are wild in their own way, no NFL moment will compare to this one in my books. Up in flames at a Dallas Cowboys game seems like an eerie parallel for most of their seasons.