Wilson Sporting Goods has done a selection of a dozen Super Bowl highlight moments and individuals, with William Perry’s touchdown in Super Bowl XX — exactly 28 years ago Sunday — dubbed “The Plunge,” as one of those moments.
In the course of writing “The Rise and Self-Destruction of the Greatest Football Team in History: The Chicago Bears and Super Bowl XX,” more than one of my many sources for the book told me that Jim McMahon always regretted not facilitating a touchdown for Walter Payton.
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Players told me that the Perry call came in from Mike Ditka. But the sense then and even now was that McMahon, who defied Ditka on more than one occasion and run a play of McMahon’s own choosing, has no one to blame but himself for not giving the greatest Bear (by Ditka’s own assessment) his shining moment — particularly after Payton suffered an early fumble that even allowed New England to score the game’s first points.
“I couldn’t enjoy the Super Bowl because they let Fridge score and not Walter,” defensive end Mike Hartenstine told me. “And then Walter looked so glum after the game. It was a first for Chicago, a foregone conclusion, and then everything was sitting there waiting for Walter to be honored.”
Worse, the Perry touchdown plunge came late in the third quarter. It made the score 44-3 and was tantamount to rubbing the Patriots’ noses in the moment. It is difficult to find anything “highlight” or even amusing with the play. McMahon called his own number on one- and two-yard touchdowns. Not to have called Payton’s was a smudge on the occasion and on McMahon.
Wilson named the play one of their "Duke Dozen" moments in Super Bowl history, celebrating the company's involvement in the big game. Check out this "The Plunge" graphic below: