The Gators follow in a long line of vindicated underdogs
Published: Wednesday, January 10, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 9, 2007 at 11:46 p.m.
Everybody loves an underdog. Unless, of course, you're a favorite.
Throughout history, few stories capture our collective fascination more than the warriors who, against all odds, do what most thought impossible. Slay the dragon. Beat the odds. Upset No. 1.
Most analysts didn't give Florida much of a chance versus Ohio State in Monday's national championship game. But, like these famous underdogs who vindicated themselves when it mattered most, the Gators proved that maybe they weren't underdogs after all: perhaps they were the best all along.
The underdog story so old it has its own cliché. As the Biblical story goes, young David slayed the giant Philistine, allowing his fellow Israelites to force out Goliath's invading army and securing a spot as the classic example of the weak overcoming the strong.
This undervalued thoroughbred, whose story was retold in the 2003 film by the same name, used the heart of a champion to compensate for his small stature. In 1938's "Match of the Century," the little horse that could proved bookies and sportswriters wrong by defeating favorite War Admiral; later, he would overcome an injury to capture another big victory and the adulation of a nation downtrodden by the Great Depression.
In the 1948 presidential election, President Harry Truman was the incumbent Democrat without a prayer and Thomas Dewey the heavily-favored Republican challenger. The photo of the smiling Truman holding up the Chicago Daily Tribune topped in all caps boldface "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN" continues to haunt headline writers to this day.
The perpetual underdog, Rocky has risked life and limb in pursuit of boxing-ring glory ... over, and over, and over again. He's back at it at the ripe age of 62 in the film series' sixth installment, "Rocky Balboa."
"There's no need to fear, Underdog is here!" Take it from a rhyme-talking cartoon dog who takes a "super" pill to do battle with villains: sometimes heroes are made of the unlikeliest characters.
They weren't called the "Miracle on Ice" for nothing. In what could also be called the "Cold War on Ice," a U.S. team comprised of amateurs and college players downed the gold-medal favorite Soviet Union 4-3 in the Olympic semifinals. With an ensuing victory over Finland, they brought the U.S. the gold medal and a hearty dose of national pride.
Life just never seems to go poor Charlie's way. His baseball team is laughably terrible, Lucy never gives him a break and his chances with the little red-haired girl seem pathetic. Yet, he soldiers on, choosing right over wrong while surrounded by a cast of faithful friends.
Led by General George Washington, the upstart colonists were ill-equipped, had crummy uniforms and couldn't even march in straight lines but pulled the upset in the American Revolution. The rematch in 1812 didn't go much better for the powerful visitors from across the Atlantic.
"Broadway" Joe Namath was the football king of cool, but in January of 1969 when he said, "We're going to win Sunday, I guarantee you," it was seen as more of a boast than possibility. But the Jets backed up their quarterback's brash talk with a 16-7 win over the supposedly unbeatable Baltimore Colts.
In the 1960s, the New York Mets were the laughing stock of the Major Leagues, the benchmark for badness. But in 1969 the Mets packed two miracles into one season, catching and passing the league-leading Chicago Cubs and then trouncing the Baltimore Orioles in five games in the World Series, making it the second New York underdog team to top a favorite from Baltimore in one year.
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