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Leon Lett (left) and Don Beebe talk to the Aurora Christian football team on Tuesday, July 10, 2012. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Twenty years later, The Play still has legs.
And why not? It’s a good lesson, well-taught.
Don Beebe’s hustle play in the 1993 Super Bowl — running down and stripping the ball from Dallas defensive lineman Leon Lett, who started his touchdown celebration on a fumble return a few steps too early against Buffalo — will be featured Sunday on CBS during its seven hours of Super Bowl XLVII pregame coverage that begins at 10 a.m.
Beebe, the current Aurora Christian football coach, was a wide receiver for the Bills. He was flown to Dallas two weeks ago where he and Lett, now a Cowboys assistant coach, were interviewed by the network’s lead analyst, Phil Simms.
It will be included in his “Phil Simms All-Iron Team: Super Bowl Edition” that starts at noon and features a countdown of “(Super Bowl) plays that have made a huge impact through time,” Beebe said.
The Beebe-Lett meeting is touted by a CBS press release as “an unprecedented reunion for the first time ever of Leon Lett and Don Beebe, who shared in one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl lore.”
Hmmmm, first time ever?
Maybe in the “if it’s on the Internet it must be true” world. But in the real world? Hardly.
In this case, believe everything you read in the newspaper. And Beacon-News readers will recall we detailed a meeting between Lett and Beebe — in Aurora — last July so they could discuss The Play for a documentary being produced by Jim Gibson of Big Talk Media to promote a book about Beebe’s life that was published last December.
Lett spoke with Beebe’s team, sharing his experiences that included other lows and how he’s bounced back from them, starting a foundation that helps at-risk youngsters in Las Vegas (where he went to school) and got into coaching.
Do he and Lett tire of talking about the play, Beebe was asked.
“It’s part of the thing, I think even Leon would say that while it’s been tough at times, there’s no way around this,” said the Kaneland High School grad who beat the odds and made it to the NFL — and played in six Super Bowls — from Chadron State, a small school in Nebraska.
The Play was selected for the first ESPY Award ever handed out for the Play of the Year in 1993 and was once voted Biggest Sports Blunder in a poll of ESPN fans
“You deal with it and you make the best of it. If you fight it, it just becomes worse,” said Beebe. “Leon has taken the right course by saying ‘I did something wrong’ and moving on from it.
“We both come from a different perspective, but we’ve met at the top and are trying to give the same story to kids how it is important to never give up.”