What Is a Hail Mary Pass?

Let me Hear You Say a Hail Mary!

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Football, uniting loved ones together

Going to a football game is like a rite of passage if you are a sports fan and love live outdoor sports or even just an activity that you can easily share with loved ones. The great thing is that the entire family whether young or old can all get together and enjoy these moments together. It is the perfect opportunity to all spend time together which is not necessarily something that occurs throughout the year, apart from say occasions like Thanksgivings or Christmas of course. 

Ideally though you do not just want to use one of the major holidays (which this year has certainly taught us) as the only opportunity to get together with the ones you love. You could treat a trip to your local stadium as a day out on say a weekend, go to a restaurant for example beforehand, and share a lovely meal with all your family or just fetch something quick and tasty to eat like a burrito and then head on over to the football game. Once there, an opportunity to speak to like minded fans will arise, where you can discuss the ins and outs of your favorite football team or explain the rules of the game to a fellow newbie. There is rarely any animosity between football teams, it is usually a nice, friendly and of course slightly competitive atmosphere. Nothing wrong with a bit of friendly competition though.

You never know when something exciting might happen in a game and you could be there firsthand to experience a glorious moment like when recently in the Arizona Cardinals vs. the Buffalo Bills game where Kyler Murray launches a Hail Mary throw towards teammate DeAndre Hopkins who catches it effortlessly and scores them a winning touchdown. As a result, they win at home against the Buffalo Bills. This is a wonderful example of a successful yet unexpected Hail Mary attempt in a football game.  

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The Hail Mary (not just a Prayer)

So, what is a Hail Mary Pass I hear you ask? Well, if you imagine throwing a ball to your friend in a park and they are a fair distance away from you and your dog is running towards you to grab the ball, before you know it, you throw it hurriedly to your friend in the hope that they catch it. It will most likely be a rushed throw rather than particularly accurate. Your friend catches the long pass and runs to the tree before the dog can seize the ball.

So, if you apply that scenario to an actual soccer game you end up with a similar scenario, just with professional sportsmen instead. This is what can occur in a game, typically towards the last crucial seconds of it. Every second counts, literally. The footballer throws the ball in a long pass to one of his teammates in the hope that it is going to be a successful throw but has not had much time to analyze the shot and with all their strength hurls the ball with all their mighty force. The ball swooshes through the air and lands in the team-mates hand and they “miraculously” score a touchdown, against all odds. Cue the name Hail Mary comes into play. 

The reason why there is a religious reference in the form of a ‘Hail Mary’ is due to the football player praying to themselves that they will throw the ball, in the hope that it reaches its destination and prays to the Virgin Mary to help them succeed. Through the Hail Mary prayer, the player utters under their breath parts of this prayer, which of course refers in one of the verses, and is dedicated to the Hail Mary, full of grace and the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. It might or might not be a successful throw but either way the crowd waits with bated breath as if in a slow-motion trance whether the teammate can catch the ball or if it crosses the line and then hurrah celebrations ensue when it is successful. 

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History of the Hail Mary and that momentous throw in 1975

The origins of the Hail Mary Pass date back to the early 1930’s era. Initially the term was mentioned amongst soccer players that were of Catholic faith and were relying on divine Catholic intervention to help them through their games. This would have particularly been the case at a point in the game where every single second counted towards the end of the half or the match. The notion of scoring a winning moment where they would throw the ball hurriedly to attempt to score a touchdown from all the way across the other side of the field. Thus, the term Hail Mary came into existence. For around 40 years or so, the term was only referenced amongst the players, it was not until the mid1970’s that the term became more universally known amongst sports fans.   

It was not until the 1975 match between the Dallas Cowboy’s to the Minnesota Vikings where the Quarterback Roger Staubach alongside fellow sportsman Preston Pearson were notably successful in securing a Hail Mary pass at a vital moment in the game. They were at a crucial losing moment in the game and Staubach literally heaved the “praying” ball towards his teammate Drew Pearson and caught it for the joyous game winning touchdown from 50 yards away. As a result, they beat the Vikings in the divisional playoffs during those nail biting 32 seconds.

When Roger Staubach was later interviewed by a reporter in the locker room and was asked what was going through your mind at the time of play, he simply replied “I just closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary” as he was a devout Catholic. By the next morning when the morning papers were being distributed hot off the press, the sporting headlines referred to Staubach’s winning maneuver as the “Hail Mary Pass Wins Game”. The rest as they say is history and the expression has stuck ever since. 

Relieve the best Hail Mary’s in NFL history

Next time you find yourself with a little more time on your hands, which is not completely unplausible due to lockdown life this year in 2020, check out the best Hail Mary passes with the NFL online and marvel at these wondrous sporting moments in soccer history and relieve these nail-biting seconds. It is as though you are there cheering along with the rest of the crowd and are reliving the moment, particularly if you were not there the first time, like in the 1975 game with Staubach and Pearson. It truly is marvelous to relieve these sporting events at the touch of a button now with ease. 

Also, more importantly next time you find yourself at a soccer match or are sat on the sofa from the comfort of your home chatting to a family member or friend, you will understand the terminology and wonder how you did not know it before and pass the story onto another fellow soccer fan. Long may the Hail Mary’s continue.

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