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10 Worst Calls in Sports History


9
Heads — No Wait — Tails!
Referee Phil Luckett signals a score during a game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2000. Back in 1998, he heard the Pittsburgh Steelers co-captain call "heads" on a pre-game coin toss. Everyone else heard "tails." Andy Lyons/Allsport/Getty Imges
Referee Phil Luckett signals a score during a game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2000. Back in 1998, he heard the Pittsburgh Steelers co-captain call "heads" on a pre-game coin toss. Everyone else heard "tails." Andy Lyons/Allsport/Getty Imges

Sometimes the simplest calls are the easiest to blow. Actually, that's not true at all, unless you are an NFL referee named Phil Luckett. While officiating a coin toss -- a coin toss! -- before overtime in a 1998 Thanksgiving game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Detroit Lions, Luckett got his proverbial head stuck in his tail.

When Luckett tossed the ceremonial coin in the air, Steelers co-captain and star running back Jerome Bettis clearly called "tails!" You could even hear it over the stadium PA system. But Luckett chimed out, "Heads is the call. He said 'heads.'" The coin, of course, landed on tails, giving Detroit the first crack at scoring.

Bettis couldn't believe what was happening; even the TV announcers were incredulous. "He said tails! He said tails! That is unbelievable. This is an embarrassment for the National Football League."

The Steelers never got the ball back, losing to a Lions' field goal in the first possession of overtime. After the game, Luckett claimed that Bettis had called "heads-tails," and that he stuck with the first thing he heard [source: Sports Illustrated]. Steelers' fans could be forgiven for responding, "You, sir, are the best-worst referee in NFL history."