Happy Fourth of July. It's a great day and a great way to remember how truly fortunate we are as Americans. So many have sacrificed so much to guarantee us the freedoms and opportunities we have. Thank you.
With that in mind, the mini-holiday version of the 5-at-10 will offer the top five moments in patriotic sports history (You know, those moments that made you want to stand up and chant "U-S-A, U-S-A." Pretend Lee Greewood's "Proud to be an American" is playing in the background.)
Here we go...
5. Rocky drops Drago: Yes, this was a movie moment. But, Rocky Balboa stopping the seemingly unstoppable Russian Ivan Drago came at the tail end of the cold war — and remember Drago had killed Apollo Creed and said, "If he dies, he dies." Seriously, we can remember being in the theater and the entire joint chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A," as Rocky was chopping down the towering Drago.
4. Piazza goes deep: It's hard to believe that 9/11 was 10 years ago, you know? Wow, those memories are still as fresh as April. That said, the healing process for our country in general and NYC in particular was expedited by baseball. The Yankees and Mets wore "NYPD" and "NYFD" hats — by the way, typing that sentence gave us goose bumps. In the first game back in NYC on Sept. 21, Mets catcher Mike Piazza hit a game-winning homer in the eighth inning to beat the Braves 3-2. Here was what Piazza told the AP after the game, which Piazza played for free after he donated his $68,000 pay check to the relief effort, ""I'm just so happy I gave the people something to cheer. There was a lot of emotion. It was just a surreal sort of energy out there. I'm just so proud to be a part of it tonight."
3. Mary Lou Retton sticks the landing: While most of the Soviet bloc countries boycotted the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, gymnastics powerhouse Romania did compete. But Retton stole the show, sticking the landing on her vault that helped her become the first American woman to win an gold medal in the all-around.
2. Jesse Owens shows his speed: Can you think of a worse road game? Black sprinter Jesse Owens and the American Olympic team headed to Berlin for the 1936 Games. At that time Adolf Hitler was speeding toward his dictatorship and trying to control the world with a misguided plan of a supreme race. Owens, however, was the supreme competitor of every race he entered. Owens won gold in the 100, 200 the long jump and the 4x100 relay. Supremacy, indeed.
1. Do you believe in miracles? Yes. Of course you do. And you knew the 1980 U.S. hockey team's dream run to a gold medal was going to be No. 1.
Have a great Fourth. Until tomorrow.
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...