Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hail Mary Pass

I'm having trouble downloading pics again so this weekend will be a pics-free zone.  Sorry about that, as Maxwell Smart used to say, repeatedly.  I hope to have it fixed on Monday.
Watching some past episodes of The Good Wife, I heard the term “Hail Mary Pass appeal” mentioned a few times.  This was in the context of the lawyers filing a last minute appeal to prevent one of their clients, who had been sentenced to death, being executed. They were racing against the clock so the Hail Mary aspect was obvious, a prayer for divine intervention.

I was intrigued enough by the term to look into it and discovered the following:

·      The term comes from American football where it refers to a long forward pass made in desperation near the end of the half or the end of the game, such pass having only a limited chance of success.

·      The expression dates back to 1922 when the Notre Dame team said Hail Mary prayers together before each of the three touchdowns scored.  After the game lineman Noble Kizer  exclaimed “Say, that Hail Mary is the best play we’ve got.”

·      Originally it referred to any desperation pass but gradually it came to mean a long desperation pass with little chance of success.

·      In 1940 the Daytona Beach Morning Journal used a headline “Orange Bowl: Hoyas Put Faith in ‘Hail Mary’ Pass’ ”..  The article explained that “A ‘Hail Mary’ pass, in the talk of the Washington eleven, is one that is thrown with a prayer because the odds against completion are big”

·      Although the term was originally used mainly within Catholic universities, particularly Notre Dame, it became more widespread in 1975 after Dallas Cowboy quarterback Rodger Staubach, a Roman Catholic, said of his game winning desperation pass at the end of the game “It was just a ‘Hail Mary’ pass; a very, very lucky play. ... I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary.”

·      The term "Hail Mary pass" has now become generalised to refer to any last-ditch effort with little chance of success.

·      In 1991 General Norman ("Stormin' Norman") Schwarzkopf, commander of Operation Desert Storm, likened his strategy of flanking Iraqi defenders (by sending his forces in a westward direction to get behind them) to a Hail Mary play. 

·       Senator Chuck Schumer referred to John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate in the 2008 presidential elections as a Hail Mary pass.

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