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Holiday Miracle Bowl

In 1980, a couple of miracles happened. First, I voluntarily watched a football game. This may not seem like much of a miracle, but to my father it was as though I had finally converted to the one true religion.

And this wasn't just any football game. It was the 1980 Holiday Bowl, and BYU was playing Southern Methodist University. So it was also a holy war.

BYU fans were ecstatic that their team was even at the game to begin with. Their national ranking had raised some eyebrows, and Bryant Gumbel had gone so far as to say that BYU didn't deserve to be ranked at all because they only played schools like "Bo-Diddly Tech."

This seriously frosted BYU fans, and it seemed for a time that Gumbel would be joining Salmon Rushdie as a religious fugitive, as both of them had offended adherents to faiths known for their fanaticism: Rushdie had ticked off radical Islam, and Gumbel had annoyed members of the Church of BYU Football. My father was a devout acolyte of that church.

Nevertheless, BYU made it to the 1980 Holiday Bowl, a game they had lost the two previous years.

For 56 minutes, SMU kicked, stomped, and ate everyone and everything in their path. They spent most of the game picking cougar fur out of their facemasks. It was a bloodbath.

Then, with four minutes remaining and BYU down by 20 points (that's right. Two. Zero.) things began to turn around, until BYU was just seven points from winning. And astonishingly, when there were just THREE SECONDS left in the game, Jim McMahon -- the team's Catholic quarterback -- threw a Hail Mary pass for something like a million yards. As the clock ran out, that ball flew halfway around the world, and was caught in the end zone by Clay Brown.

With no time remaining, the game was tied.

The special teams folks came onto the field -- no pressure, boys -- and kicked the winning point to win the 1980 Holiday Bowl -- now dubbed The Miracle Bowl -- for Brigham Young University.

But believe it or not, this post isn't about that game. It's about something equally unexpected, an act carried out by the most unlikely of heroes.

Mel Farr, a physically challenged young man who worked as the team's equipment manager, stood before his teammates, and did something so incredible, so difficult and unexpected, so miraculous, that thirty years later that winning team remembers his feat as clearly as they remember Clay Brown coming down with that football.

I don't want to tell you. I want to show you. And I want to encourage you to consider the beautiful project that endeavors to share this inspiring story with the world.

Watch the video to hear the extraordinary story of Mel Farr, and his act of determination and heart that motivated and inspired his team to never, ever give up.


DeNae Handy, who was not compensated for any portion of this post or for promoting the Miracle Bowl production, still has no clue what is going on during a football game. But every time she watches these four minutes of football, she grins like an idiot.

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