Salvation from a Glove: Remembering Oronde Gadsden's Epic Catch

Shane KittelsonContributor IJuly 21, 2009

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Oronde Gadsden enters Pro Player Stadium, Miami, Florida, before play against the New York Jets December 28, 2003. The Dolphins defeated the Jets 23 - 21.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Remember Oronde Gadsden?

If you don't, here's a refresher: 6'2", 215 lbs, bald and all hands.

The man had hands about the size of baseball mitts. In fact, I think the MLB might use his hands as the prototype for all of their current gloves.

Which makes sense, since when you are a wide receiver trying to catch balls from Jay Fiedler, you might as well be an outfielder trying to catch a pop fly or an errant ball.

OG's mitts came in handy on one monumental catch that even landed him in the Hall of Fame (if only as a still photograph, and not as a bronze bust).

The year was 2002, and this was the Dolphins' chance to break the dreadful curse of the New York Jets.

For those who don't remember, the Jets had mounted an impressive win streak against the Dolphins spanning several seasons. Dolphins players at the time came to view the Jets as a sort of boogie man which came to snatch victory away from them in the most crushing of ways.

Perhaps the best known example of the curse and the enduring legacy of the streak is the infamous "Miracle in the Meadowlands."

The Dolphins just couldn't seem to figure them out. Even with the newly acquired Ricky Williams to trample all over the gang green, the Dolphins still could count on much-maligned quarterback, and often deservedly so, Jay Fiedler to botch the game for them.

And he came damn close on this day...

Things began as most Jets/Dolphins matchups began—hard fought and competitive. The Dolphins fans believed this was their day, and things were looking up. Williams was running scatter-shot, and Fiedler wasn't throwing pick sixes for once.

But then, Fiedler, Dave Wannstedt's favorite son, went back for a pass and heaved the ball right into the awaiting arms of a NY Jets' defensive back.

Mouths dropped agape across the orange-hued stadium. It was happening again. The boogie man hath returned.

But suddenly, a gargantuan arachnid-like appendage sprung forth and snatched the football from the clutches of certain tragedy. A single hand had spanned a seemingly impossible distance from its owner's torso to bring overwhelming joy to thousands who had gathered in the stadium that day.

Oronde Gadsden: Hero.

The Miami Dolphins went on to win the game and finally break the curse of the New York Jets.

While Gadsden's catch was not the sole reason for the Dolphins' victory that day, it was one of the major turning points. As was customary in the Wannstedt Era, the Dolphins tended to fall apart before your eyes in the face of any form of adversity.

A psychological block would filter out from the coach and onto the players, making any mishap almost impossible to overcome.

If it were not for Gadsden's incredible reception, the curse might have lived on for another day.

[To see an animated gif of Gadsden's catch, click here]