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Original Issue

The Realm of the Coin

Jets-Giants? Small change! Here's how the fickle flip has really altered events

Last week Jets owner Woody Johnson went bonkers when his team lost a secret coin toss with the Giants to determine who would play the first home game at the new Meadowlands Stadium. Word to Woody: Among tosses, this was chump change. These were more momentous, rated in consequence from one coin (keep the change) to four (game changer).

1962: AFL Title OT

Call: Heads

Comes up: Heads

The Dallas Texans' Abner Haynes wins the toss and shockingly declares, "We'll kick to the clock." The Texans beat the Oilers anyway 20--17.

1969: NBA Draft

Call: Heads

Comes up: Tails

For the Suns, being unlucky means the Bucks get to select UCLA's Lew Alcindor. In his second season, Alcindor leads Milwaukee to its only NBA title.

1970: NFL Draft

Call: Heads

Comes up: Tails

The Bears and the Steelers each finish the '69 season 1--13, but the flip's winner gets the consensus first pick: quarterback Terry Bradshaw of Louisiana Tech. Bears chairman Ed McCaskey's wrong guess sends Bradshaw (left) to Pittsburgh and four Super Bowl titles.

1978: AL East playoff

The call: Lost in legend

Comes up: Boston's way

However they won, the Red Sox get to play the Yankees at friendly Fenway. That boomerangs when the Bombers' shortstop (right) lofts a pop fly (an out anywhere else) just over the Green Monster in left for the three-run homer that marks him forever in the Hub as Bucky (F------) Dent.

1998: Thanksgiving Day, Steelers at Lions, OT

Call: Tails or heads or both

Comes up: Tails

Pittsburgh's Jerome Bettis calls tails and is befuddled when referee Phil Luckett (who claims he heard heads, then tails) awards the choice to Detroit. The muddle yields the rule that the call must be made before the coin is in the air.