Skip to main content
Original Issue

A History of Sports Vows

Some have regretted saying, "If you [blank], I'll [blank]"

WITH NAPOLI, her favorite soccer team, chasing promotion to the top flight in Italy, Sophia Loren last week tried to give the players a little extra incentive. "If we go up, I will do a striptease," she said. Though she's 72, Loren has given the sports world a more appealing mental image than Andy Reid proffered a couple of years ago when he was trying to motivate Terrell Owens. The Eagles' coach vowed to don a pair of spandex tights if Owens caught 15 TDs in 2004. T.O. got to 14 with two games left when he broke his leg—or so he said; it's entirely possible he just didn't want to see Reid in spandex. Here are a few other—occasionally ill-advised—sporting promises.

Dismissing Austin Peay's chances against No. 3 seed Illinois in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Dick Vitale says he'll stand on his head if the Governors win. Fired up by Vitale's dis, Peay pulls off a 68--67 upset. Vitale shows up at the Austin Peay banquet and makes good on his promise (top)—and comes away happy: "Austin Peay paid for my pool by getting me to speak at their banquet," he says.

With the Pirates leading the Phillies 10--0 in the top of the first, Pittsburgh radio announcer Jim Rooker vows, "If we lose, I'll walk back to Pittsburgh." Three hours and five Steve Jeltz RBIs later Philly has a 15--11 win. Rooker makes good after the season, walking the 315 miles from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh for charity.

Asked what she'll do if the U.S. wins the women's soccer gold, goalkeeper Briana Scurry (left) replies, "Run naked through Athens [Ga.]," where the tournament is being held. After a 2--1 win over China in the gold medal game, Scurry lives up to her promise—and her name—scurrying down a street late at night wearing only her gold medal.

His club in a funk, Lou Piniella tells the Devil Rays he'll dye his hair the color of their choosing if they win three games in a row. Following a modest winning streak, the players decide on blond. "It goes well with his gray," says stylist Wilber Bonilla. Alas, the blond Lou—who spent half an hour under a hair drier (left)—did not have more fun. Tampa Bay went on to lose 99 games.

So certain that his team will lose a crucial game to England, a Welsh rugby fan tells his barmates, "If Wales win, I'll cut my balls off." Long story short: They do, he does. After a trip home to do the deed, Geoff Huish returns to the bar in the words of one onlooker "with his testicles in a bag."