The 10 Boldest Guarantees in NFL History
Even with the growth of the new media in the 21st century, the professional athlete guarantee of victory is still one of the rarest events in sports.
With athletes signing up for Twitter accounts seemingly every hour, the chances of more boasting and guarantees of greatness are inevitable, and will eventually lose its impact.
When fans look at the histories of their respective sports, the touchstone moments are usually when athletes have predicted victory for themselves or for their team.
Baseball has Babe Ruth calling his home run shot in the 1932 World Series. Hockey has Mark Messier guaranteeing a win over the New Jersey Devils in the 1994 NHL Eastern Conference Finals. Football has some guy who used to shill pantyhose in the 60s, calling for victory over an overwhelming Super Bowl favorite.
The simple act of saying "We're going to win. I guarantee it," can generate controversy, and it can also motivate a team. What most coaches fear, however, is that it motivates the opposing team.
The notable guarantees in NFL history come in all shapes and sizes. Crazy. Iconic. Hilarious. Bold.
Here are the 10 boldest guarantees in NFL history.
Anthony Smith Guarantees Win over Perfect Patriots
2007 was the year of the Patriots, at least during the regular season. On their way to a 16-0 season, New England scored points at will and embarrassed teams most weeks. They outscored their opponents by 315 points.
That was all lost on Pittsburgh Steelers safety Anthony Smith. Smith told reporters before the Steelers' Week 14 contest with New England, "People keep asking me if we're ready for the Patriots. They should be asking if they're ready for us."
Smith and the Steelers failed to slow down the high-powered Patriots offense, losing 34-13. Smith was actually pulled during the game in favor of backup safety Tyrone Carter.
The Steelers went into the game at 9-3, so Smith's proclamation wasn't completely ridiculous. It was definitely bold, however, and Smith probably learned the lesson to wisely choose your battles, and don't guarantee a win over an undefeated scoring machine.
Roy Williams Guarantees a Lions Victory over the Chicago Bears
In 2006, the Chicago Bears were on their way to a Super Bowl, and a home game against the hapless Detroit Lions in Week 2 appeared to be the next best thing to a bye week. The Lions scored six whole points against Seattle in Week 1, and a road game against the Bears and their stifling defense didn't look like the best remedy for their scoring woes.
The Lions were smack dab in the middle of a 15-33 three-year run of poor play. It made sense then that Roy Williams would tell reporters that the Lions would win the game.
Williams' guarantee was about 10 percent guarantee and 90 percent backtracking. "We will win this game. Y'all can take that as a guarantee or whatnot, but we will win this game."
The following day, Williams clarified his position by saying that if the Lions play the way they're supposed to play, then they will win the game.
"We're supposed to win," Williams said.
Williams had three catches for 36 yards in the 34-7 loss. It could also be argued that Williams is secretly exacting his revenge on the Bears by joining their team in 2011 after a few years of continued mediocrity in the NFL.
Ryan Leaf Guarantees Super Bowl Wins, Parades
While this entry is not a traditional guarantee, it makes the list just for the sheer, naked hilarity of it, especially when compared to the guarantor's actual end result.
On draft day in 1998, Ryan Leaf was sitting near the top of the football world, becoming the second overall pick. The Washington State quarterback was picked by the San Diego Chargers after future legend Peyton Manning went first.
Leaf would famously become arguably the biggest bust in NFL history, compiling a career QB passer rating of 50 during his three-year career.
Things were looking up during draft day, however, as Leaf said, "I'm looking forward to a 15-year career, a couple of trips to the Super Bowl and a parade through downtown San Diego."
If Webster's is currently revising their dictionary, they might want to use a new example for irony.
Leaf may possibly have attended some parades as a spectator since that statement, but reports are unconfirmed.
Chad Johnson's First Guarantee
Like a couple looking back on their first house or their baby's first steps, NFL fans look back fondly on Chad Johnson's first act of showmanship, his guarantee in 2002.
Before he was Chad Ochocinco, Johnson made a name for himself for saying outlandish things, getting fined by the league and generally being the clown prince of football.
His first foray into the football player/performance artist routine that he perfected through the years was his seemingly innocent guarantee back in 2002.
The 2002 Cincinnati Bengals were going into Week 9 sporting an 0-7 record, matching up against the expansion 2-5 Houston Texans. The first guarantee of victory actually came from Cincinnati head coach Dick LeBeau, who proclaimed after a tough loss to Tennessee, "I thought the team fought. We had every opportunity to win, and next week, we will win."
Later in the week, Johnson added to his coach's pledge by saying, "Next week, I assure you a win. I guarantee you we will win."
It was pretty matter-of-fact, and not overly flashy, but even Groucho Marx had to tell his first joke on vaudeville at some point.
The Bengals did win the game, taking down the Texans 38-3 for Cincinnati's first win of the season. The Bengals would eventually finish with a 2-14 record.
Rex Ryan's Annual Guarantee of a Jets Super Bowl Win
A guarantee for victory usually carries with it controversy. It's almost like someone sets off a bomb in the press box, and reporters start to feed like sharks in the water, looking for everyone's reaction within the organization, from the players on down to the equipment manager.
In Rex Ryan's case, however, his guarantees for the Jets winning the Super Bowl are almost like rites of summer. It wouldn't be training camp until the Jets head coach issues his guarantee. Then it's on to two-a-days.
In February of 2011, Ryan once again claimed that the Jets would win a Super Bowl.
It's the oldest trick in the coaching handbook. Take the pressure off of your players by creating some kind of controversy away from the field, either by guaranteeing a championship, or filming a strange fetish video. Either approach works.
The Super Bowl Shuffle
Most player and coach guarantees come in the form of a locker room interview. A rare expression of guarantee is the rap song/dance video like the one that the 1985 Chicago Bears made, "The Super Bowl Shuffle."
While having one of the most dominating defenses in NFL history and going 18-1 with a Super Bowl victory, the 1985 Bears were also successful recording artists. Their single, "The Super Bowl Shuffle," sold more than 500,000 copies. The song's lyrics boasted of the Bears' greatness, and the accompanying music video showed off some pretty stilted dance moves.
The act of mentioning the certainty of a Super Bowl berth during the regular season is one of the boldest, and most arrogant guarantees ever.
While the lyrics never implicitly state that a Super Bowl victory is guaranteed, defensive end Richard Dent actually raps, "You better start makin' your Super Bowl plans."
Seeing as the song was recorded a day or two after the Bears' only loss of the 1985 season, that would put the time of Dent's statement at around Week 13. Technically, by rapping that line, Dent was guaranteeing five victories, putting the Bears in Super Bowl XX.
Fortunately, this guarantee format is not used often. The last notable song recorded by a football team was the Jacksonville Jaguars' "Uh Oh, The Jaguars' Super Bowl Song," which was recorded in 1999. They lost.
Joey Porter: Take Your Pick
If there is ever a hall of fame erected for the best victory guarantors in the NFL, it will undoubtedly be built in Kansas City, birthplace of linebacker Joey Porter.
With the frequency of Porter's guarantees for victory throughout his career, the guarantees don't so much as lose their impact, but become a part of Porter's personality and legacy. Joey Porter guarantees victories. That's what he does.
Whether he's guaranteeing victories over the Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots, or guaranteeing getting a certain number of sacks in a season, Porter always brings it in front of the microphone.
While he doesn't always succeed in his claims to victory, Joey Porter remains the king of the guarantee.
Jim Fassel: A Gamblin' Man
The 2000 New York Giants were not a great football team, but a solid team. They had a decent quarterback in Kerry Collins. They had thunder and lightning in the backfield, Ron Dayne and Tiki Barber. Michael Strahan and Keith Hamilton were the ultimate sack-masters.
They did make it to Super Bowl XXXV, however, and the path to the ultimate game started with a guarantee from Giants head coach, Jim Fassel.
A frustrated Jim Fassel came up to the podium for the postgame press conference after a Week 12 loss and laid it all on the line. Using poker analogies, Fassel guaranteed his team would make the playoffs. It wasn't exactly the boldest prediction, considering New York's 7-4 record at the time, but it was all in the delivery.
"I am raising the stakes right now. If this is a poker game, I am shoving my chips right in the middle of the table," Fassel said, "Anybody who wants out, can get out. This team is going to the playoffs. Okay? this team is going to the playoffs."
The end result also added to the legend of the Fassel guarantee. The Giants went on to win their next seven games, winding up in the Super Bowl against eventual champions, the Baltimore Ravens.
Plaxico the Prognosticator
Another scrappy New York Giants team made the Super Bowl in the 2000's, this time in 2007, when the 10-6 Giants were matched up with the undefeated New England Patriots. The Patriots went into the Super Bowl 14-point favorites over the Giants.
During media day, the annual circus leading up to the Super Bowl, Plaxico Burress took center stage with a prediction for the ages.
Less than a year before shooting his pants off and landing in jail, Burress called for a Giants win, but he gave out a predicted score of 23-17 for good measure.
New England quarterback Tom Brady didn't seem to mind the Burress guarantee, but was a little offended by Burress only counting on 17 New England points.
While the score was different than Burress' prediction, New York only yielded 14 New England points in their 17-14 Super Bowl XLII victory. Burress caught the game-winning touchdown from Eli Manning and secured his spot in NFL lore.
Joe Namath and "The Guarantee"
Joe Namath's 1967 guarantee that the New York Jets would defeat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III was simple and straightforward. It also is one of the most iconic moments in NFL history.
The subsequent victory over the 18-point favorite Colts not only gave the American Football League legitimacy, but it made Namath an instant celebrity.
Whether or not the victory, on the heels of Namath's guarantee, was what sparked the eventual merger between the AFL and NFL, it certainly was an important part of what was to become the NFL as we now know it.
Joe Namath was solid in leading his team to victory, but it was the Jets' defense that held the Colts to seven points and paved the way for what is frequently referred to as the biggest upset in sports history.
Whenever sports fans discuss the topic of famous and bold guarantees, there is truly only one guarantee. It belongs to Joe Namath.