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One of the Greatest Catches in NFL History Almost Didn’t Count

Marty Booker Catch

After a three year stint with the Bears from 2005-2007, wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad colorfully depicted Chicago as the place “where wide receivers go to die.” Fittingly so the following season, the Bears signed 9-year veteran Marty Booker who they originally drafted back in 1999. Fans were nostalgic at the very least at the prospect of the returning pro bowler but expectations were low to middling. Booker had only 14 catches in his return to the blue and orange, but one of them could possibly be one of the most underrated and spectacular moments in team history.

To set the scene, the Bears were opening a can of whoop-ass of the Detroit Lions (yes, the team that went 0-16) behind the quarterbacking of Kyle Orton. On third down, Booker was sent deep. Here’s what happened next…

There is so much I adore about this play. For starters, the absolute dime that Orton slings out there where only his guy could catch it (the cliches have only just begun). Next, there is the perfect blend of athleticism and pageantry that is the catch, one-handed, a foot off the ground, and still able to get the knee down *Chef’s kiss*. On top of that Booker was getting absolutely mugged and the officials threw the flag before ruling that it wasn’t a catch. Here is where it gets fun…

Lovie Smith throws out the red flag. This very sight had been known to give Bears fans a slight ulcer and to their credit, it is a dumb challenge. The PI call places the ball at the spot of the penalty rendering the catch virtually useless. But in the midst of a beatdown against a mediocre team, Lovie took the opportunity to look out for his guy. After review, the call was overturned, confirming the miraculous catch, and the penalty was declined. Had Smith kept the scarlet hanky in his sock this catch would not have counted and Booker’s effort would surely have evaporated into the penumbra of sports lore. Marty Booker’s career ended the next season after a lackluster showing in Atlanta. So maybe Muhsin Muhammad was right about Chicago. At least Marty Booker was given a proper eulogy by a coach that cared.

 

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Written by Nick Anton

So this, my friends, is deliciously redundant. - John Spencer

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