Best Proposals in Sports History

Sean Hojnacki@@TheRealHojnackiFeatured ColumnistSeptember 30, 2014

Best Proposals in Sports History

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    Ian Johnson capped off a Fiesta Bowl win with a well-timed proposal on live TV.
    Ian Johnson capped off a Fiesta Bowl win with a well-timed proposal on live TV.Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

    When proposing marriage to a dear loved one, grand gestures and the element of surprise both help for receiving an affirmative reply and providing a great story to tell the grandkids. However, one must always empathize with the partner receiving the engagement ring, and proposing at a professional sporting event can either be one of the most romantic options or a lead balloon of an idea. 

    Brad Dickson railed against the entire concept of stadium and arena proposals in a 2006 Los Angeles Times article. In fiction, the characters played by Paul Rudd and Lisa Kudrow struggled with an arena proposal on Friends. Suffice to say, sports proposals can be a tricky course to navigate successfully. 

    And these surprises don't come cheaply either. According to Swimmingly's Molly Fitzpatrick, proposing on bended knee will cost you anywhere from $38.50 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh to $2,500 at Dodger Stadium, where the proposal gets shown live on the scoreboard—so, you know, no pressure. The New York Mets do not even offer scoreboard proposals at Citi Field, and you can insert an obligatory Mets joke here if you like.

    Some teams take it even further, as the Miami Heat hold a sponsored marriage proposal to help promote a regional jeweler. And minor league baseball's New Britain Rock Cats even faked a rejected marriage proposal for the purposes of viral marketing.

    With so many elements to sports proposals, whether they are made by athletes themselves or the sporting event merely serves as a venue, certain successful tactics must be catalogued and lauded for the sake of future proposers. In this countdown, points are awarded for surprise, planning, creativity, spontaneity, romanticism, reaction and ability to provoke jealousy in others.

    To be clear, this does not catalog various proposal fails, which the Internet seems to revel in. Some marriage proposal ideas turn out better than others, but the only real fail would consist in not ending up wed to the person you love. Indeed, these 10 proposals each received a "Yes" and made hopeless romantics out of rabid sports fans, even if just for a moment.

10. Seahawks CB DeShawn Shead's Postgame Proposal

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    After beating the Denver Broncos in a Super Bowl rematch, Seattle Seahawks cornerback DeShawn Shead decided it was time to make a commitment off the football field. So what if it's Week 3? It's never too early to ask the person you love to spend the rest of their life with you.

    Seahawks cb Deshawn Shead proposing on the field after Seahawks beat Denver.

    — Alex Flanagan (@Alex_Flanagan) September 22, 2014

    And what made the moment even more special was that the entire "Legion of Boom" encircled the happy couple, a wideout's nightmare but a dream come true for the cornerback. That made for a truly super engagement party. 

9. You Don't Have to Be Kanye to Rent an Entire Bay Area Stadium

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    Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

    Haters are going to hate, but they're just jealous of Yeezy. Kanye West rented out AT&T Park in San Francisco and enlisted the help of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to propose to Kim Kardashian. 

    However, you don't necessarily need to be a mega-rich celebrity to book out an entire stadium, as someone other than Kanye West got a San Francisco sports venue all to himself for a marriage proposal earlier this year, and he's not even famous.

    A couple named Scott and Sarah visited the new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara back in April before it officially opened, and Scott popped the question on a tour inside the still-under-construction building, all while looking particularly dashing in a high-visibility vest and hardhat. 

8. Joey Chestnut Proves Coney Island Is a Romantic Place

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    Asking your partner to join you in holy matrimony may seem an incongruous act directly before a competitive eating content that requires rapidly inhaling dozens of hot dogs with minimal chewing.

    However, if you're hot-dog-eating titan Joey Chestnut, proposing on stage at Coney Island in the shadow of Nathan's seems an appropriate course of action. What was the ensuing celebratory meal? Oh right, hot dogs. At least Chestnut went on to win that contest as well. 

7. London Olympics Make Brits Feel Romantic

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    Martin Meissner/Associated Press

    British pole vaulter Holly Bleasdale crashed out of the 2012 Olympic Games, welling up with disappointment and tears after a sixth-place finish. Fortunately, boyfriend Paul Bradshaw gave her something to celebrate when he asked for her hand in marriage.

    Not to be outdone, Great Britain's Pete Reed, who had won gold in rowing, picked the closing ceremony to pop the question to his girlfriend.

    As noted by Rachel Morgan of Wedding Ideas, the Wimbledon viewing area often called "Murray Mound" got dubbed "Marry Mound" due to the amount of proposals taking place during the Olympics, totaling more than two dozen over two weeks.

6. Matt Grevers' Golden Proposal

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    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    Deciding to propose from a medal stand sounds like a great idea, just so long as you actually make it to the medal stand.

    As noted by the Associated Press in 2012, via ESPN: "For Matt Grevers, a top finish in the 100-meter backstroke Saturday night at the Missouri Grand Prix was a virtual necessity to pull off a surprise medal-stand marriage proposal to his girlfriend and USA national swimming teammate, Annie Chandler."

    Annie is the daughter of former NFL player Thomas Chandler, and Grevers first had to seek his approval. Then Grevers just had to get on the medal stand, which he accomplished by winning the event.

    The only negative part of the proposal was his timing, as Chandler had to regain some degree of composure to swim the 200-meter breaststroke shortly thereafter. 

5. Soccer Coach's Fake Injury Is the Most 'Soccer' Proposal Ever

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    Fabricio Nazare is more than just an assistant men’s soccer coach at Fresno Pacific University. He's also extremely sneaky.

    Nazare actually took the embellishment of this faux injury way too far, screaming loudly in pain after seemingly tearing apart every ligament in his knee and snapping his hamstring. His would-be fiancee had been understandably upset and concerned for Nazare's well-being as he writhed in agony, then abruptly changed course and rolled onto bended knee, which is also a common soccer injury.

    Then again, nothing could embody soccer more than faking an injury with such zeal that it takes over a minute to actually get around to springing the ring on her. Note that this actually involved two fake injuries, as Nazare's was initially called into the game under the guise of replacing another ailing player.

4. Greg Jones' Super Proposal

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    New York Giants linebacker Greg Jones could not content himself with merely being the champion of Super Bowl XLVI. He rode that wave of joy right into an on-field engagement. 

    Jones exhibited exquisite timing with both the proposal and his Giants tenure, as he played only one season for Big Blue, recording 22 tackles and a fumble recovery in 2011. His NFL career was not meant to be, and he signed with the Canadian Football League's Toronto Argonauts for the 2014 season, but at least he locked his fiancee into a long-term commitment. 

3. Eric Ebron's Pre-Draft Empire State Proposal

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    USA TODAY Sports

    North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron hoped he would be selected early in the 2014 NFL draft, but he made a different life-changing move hours before by proposing to his girlfriend at the top of the Empire State Building

    Here's UNC TE Eric Ebron, on bended knee, proposing atop the Empire State Building on Draft Day. She said yes.

    — P. Schrager (@PSchrags) May 8, 2014

    For anyone who considers An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr one of the most romantic movies ever made, this proposal will elicit much jealousy and involuntary cries of: "Awwwwww, so romantic!"

    Ebron had himself a great day all around, as his girlfriend of two years said yes, and he got drafted a few hours later by the Detroit Lions with the No. 10 overall pick, joining Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford in a stout passing offense. 

2. Man Hides Inside Benny the Bull

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    OK, this guy wins at proposals. If only he had actually won a Super Bowl or a bowl game directly prior to this act, he would have an iron-fist grip on the No. 1 slot.

    Shane Zackery hid inside the Benny the Bull costume so he could pop out and pop the question to his girlfriend, Chicago Bulls cheerleader Ariana Rosado. As Zackery told the New York Daily News, hiding inside the costume added a degree of difficulty to the maneuver: "It was nerve-wracking. If I didn't do it the correct way, I would have been stuck in there."

    That would leave him posing a different question: "Honey, would you still love me if I was an eight-foot tall plastic poofy cartoon bull?"

1. Ian Johnson Should've Run Statue of Liberty Play with Engagement Ring

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    Boise State's stunning 2007 Fiesta Bowl win came as a result of a hook-and-ladder touchdown catch and run, followed by an unforgettable Statue of Liberty play that proved the intestinal fortitude of the play-caller, as the team opted for two points and the win rather than the automatic tie with an extra point.

    Ian Johnson ran in that game-winning two-point conversion, and he kept the freight train of momentum going with a postgame marriage proposal.

    Though the presence of a national media outlet dampened the surprise somewhat, and the crowd noise may have drowned out Johnson's romantic words, the sheer joy of the moment struck home with many fans. The proposal will always remain a footnote on one of the more thrilling finishes to a bowl game in college football history.