Football Player Stops Running Mid-game

Category: Sports


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. touchdown / ˈtʌtʃˌdaʊn / (n) – a score made in American football

    The team needs to score another touchdown to win the competition.

  2. penalize / ˈpin lˌaɪz / (v) – to punish someone for doing something that is against the rules

    The referee penalized the player for his rude behavior.

  3. infamous / ˈɪn fə məs / (adj) – popular because of something bad

    This coach is infamous for shouting at all his players.

  4. neck and neck / nɛk ænd nɛk / (idiom) – very close

    The crowd cheered as the scores became neck and neck.

  5. regret / rɪˈgrɛt / (v) – to feel upset or disappointed about something

    I want to practice hard so that I do not regret how I play in the championships.


Read the text below.

Chicago Bears’ Marcus Cooper was about to score an easy touchdown when he stopped running mid-game.

In last September’s National Football League (NFL), the Bears played against the Pittsburgh / ˈpɪts bɜrg /  Steelers in what was to become a memorable game.

The Steelers attempted to score, but the Bears blocked them. Cooper then took the ball and started running with it. However, he suddenly stopped just before scoring a touchdown. The Steelers caught up from behind and knocked down Cooper, who dropped the ball.

However, officials decided to penalize the Steelers for illegally hitting the ball after it touched the ground. The ball was given back to the Bears for a chance to score again.

Despite Cooper’s error, his coach continued to let him play in the game. The coach said he believed that Cooper was a professional who could move on from the mistake. The game ended at 23-17, in favor of the Bears, marking their first win of the season.

After the game, Cooper was compared to another infamous football player, Leon Lett of the Dallas Cowboys.

In the 1993 NFL championship game, the Cowboys played against the Miami Dolphins. The game was neck and neck, and the Dolphins tried to score a touchdown for the win, but the Cowboys were able to block them.

The game should have ended then and there, with the Cowboys claiming the victory. However, Lett picked up the ball for unknown reasons. In football rules, picking up the ball means the game should continue. It was snowing and Lett slipped, launching the ball to the Dolphins, who were finally able to score a touchdown. Lett’s mistake led to the Cowboys’ loss, and he said that to this day, he still regrets what he did.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Why do you think Cooper suddenly stopped running before he could score the touchdown? Speculate.
• If you were the coach, would you let Cooper play until the end of the game after what he did? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• What are some of the biggest mistakes committed by public figures? Give examples.
• How can people recover from huge mistakes that were made public? Discuss.