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The ButtFumble: A Five Year Retrospective

Can you believe it’s been five years since the ButtFumble took place? Where did the time go?

New England Patriots v New York Jets Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images

Anniversaries are a special thing. Holidays come and go around the same time every year. We have no control over when our birthdays fall. Most things in our lives are more or less set by someone else and we have no choice but to simply abide by that. But when an anniversary comes around, we finally have ourselves a reason for celebration unique just to us. Anniversaries tend to mark the day when something truly special occurred. An event that impacted us in a profound way. A reason to circle a date on our calendars that hold meaning just for us and our select communities. Of course, anniversaries aren’t always happy occasions; sometimes we remember something sad, like the death of a loved one or a tragic historical event. But most of the time, anniversaries represent something joyous, like a wedding day or the day somebody was finally cancer free. Happy or sad, good or bad, anniversaries take would otherwise be normal, forgettable days and turn them into memorable ones.

(I’d make the obvious joke about easily you can place wedding anniversaries in either category...but come on, people. Where’s the holiday spirit?)

And as the air turns brisk, the leaves continue to fall, and we all get ready to head off to see our friends and families on this day of thanks and goodwill, we here at Pats Pulpit should all take a moment to celebrate an anniversary that has become especially meaningful to us all. An anniversary that we are incredibly lucky to be part of. This is a milestone year, as it marks five full Thanksgiving dinners since we all bore witness to the best worst best worst best play in the history of the National Football League. A lot has happened in five years, to all of us, but on this day, we can hearken back to simpler times, when all was right with the world, and everything, if only for a little while, made sense.

A very warm and happy five-year anniversary to The ButtFumble.

It was on this exact day, November 22nd, 2012, that the New England Patriots traveled to the Meadowlands to take on the New York Jets on Thanksgiving night. The game itself was largely forgettable; the Pats scored early and often, absolutely demolishing the Jets 49-19 as Jets fans booed their own team right out of the stadium. Brady threw three touchdowns, ran for one, and the Patriots were able to score on a fumbled kick return as well. Ultimately, the Pats thrashing the Jets has happened enough times over the years (albeit not as often as we’d like to think) that under normal circumstances, there wouldn’t be much to remember about this one.

Enter Mark Sanchez.

Or perhaps more specifically, enter Brandon Moore. Because that’s exactly what Sanchez seemed to be trying to do as he ButtFumbled his way into the history books. We all know what happened by now; I don’t even want to think about the combined hours wasted watching and rewatching that play by this point. Sanchez collided with Moore’s keister, Steve Gregory picked the ball up, and returned it for a touchdown. The play came just moments after a one play, 83 yard touchdown drive in which Shane Vereen scorched the entire Jets defense, and it came just moments before Devin McCourty knocked the ensuing kickoff right into Julian Edelman’s hands for another score. But even the act of scoring three TDs so quickly doesn’t even register when you have a play like the ButtFumble out there for the world to see.

On Thanksgiving night, no less! Most of America saw this play happen live. People woke up from their turkey comas to see a professional athlete collide with another man’s behind and give up a touchdown. If the game was playing in the background as folks finished up their Thanksgiving feast, conversation stopped, forks paused en route to mouths, and heads all turned towards the TV to make sure that what they had just saw was not in fact some tryptophan-induced hallucination. If football is part of your life in any capacity, the ButtFumble is a “I remember where I was when” moment. I was on the couch with my dad, idly chewing on a turkey leg. It may have happened five years ago, but The Number One Most Memorable Patriots Moment of 2012 is still very fresh in all of our minds. And every late November, as we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, Patriots fans all have one extra thing to be thankful for.

Long live the ButtFumble.

I haven’t read anything affiliated with ESPN in years. It has turned into a complete garbage website, and there is just better content with much better coverage pretty much everywhere on the web. But I’d be lying if I said that this piece, a sort of oral history of the ButtFumble as told by the players and writers who were right there in the moment, wasn’t great stuff. It really makes me feel for Brandon Moore, who actually had an amazing career and doesn’t deserve to be affiliated with nothing but this play...but you know what? Don’t get shoved backwards by Vince Wilfork.

And yes - I realize that asking an offensive lineman to not get shoved back by Vince Wilfork is like asking your average American not to go back for thirds on the mashed potatoes.

I recently learned that, with each anniversary, it’s customary to give the person who has brought so much joy to your life a certain kind of gift to commemorate the occasion. Had I known about this earlier, I would have started the tradition long ago. So allow me to make up for it now by backloading five years of ButtFumble Anniversary presents to Mark Sanchez and the new York Jets.

Year 1 - Paper. This one is almost too easy.

Year 2 - Cotton. Brandon Moore should probably presenting these for the sake of authenticity, but I don’t think he’s really in the mood to celebrate with us all.

Year 3 - Leather. For no other reason than, how much funnier would the ButtFumble have been if Sanchez had been wearing this instead?

Year 4 - Fruit/Flowers. I know Sanchez is intimately familiar with these.

As for Year 5, the traditional gift is wood. And so I’d like to present Mark Sanchez with something he really could have used to pry his face free from Moore’s patoot. He’s going to have to wait until Year 17 until he’ll get the gift he could really use - booze - but not to worry. We’ll all still be here, and we’ll all still be looking back on the ButtFumble fondly.