A history of First Fan fiascos
By Jim Caple
Page 2

President Bush choked on a pretzel and fainted while watching Sunday's Ravens-Dolphins playoff game. No, seriously. It really happened.

President Bush
President Bush got a little scraped up during Sunday's mishap.
On the one hand, that's a little embarrassing for the world's most powerful man, but then again, who hasn't felt like gagging at the sight of Brian Billick? Besides, it wasn't the first sports-related medical episode for a president. Eisenhower had a heart attack while golfing in 1955; Carter infamously fought off the killer bunny while fishing in 1979; and Clinton tore a tendon in his knee while stumbling down the stairs (wink, wink) at Greg Norman's mansion in 1994.

At least, those are the most famous incidents. But ESPN.com hired Stephen Ambrose to lift these forgotten but still embarrassing presidential sports mishaps from the pages of other historians ...

Jan. 16, 1972: President Nixon breaks his hand punching the Oval Office wall after the Dolphins fail to beat the spread against the Cowboys in Super Bowl VI. Nixon responds to the game by bugging coach Don Shula's office, placing kicker Garo Yepremian on his Enemies List and invading Cambodia

Dec. 28, 1975: President Ford loses his voice while screaming obscenities after the referee fails to call offensive pass interference on Dallas receiver Drew Pearson, when he obviously pushed off against Minnesota safety Nate Wright in the final moments of the NFC Championship Game. Ford is still noticeably hoarse while delivering the State of the Union address one month later, when he calls for a $10 billion tax cut, an increase in Social Security deductions and the immediate use of instant replay.

Aug. 2, 1979: President Carter needs six stitches after tripping and cutting his knee at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium while fleeing from the Famous Chicken.

Venus Williams, Ronald Reagan, Serena Williams, Nancy Reagan
President Reagan and his wife, Nancy, escaped this early meeting with the Williams sisters without incident.
March 29, 1982: President Reagan gags on a Chee-to and passes out when Georgetown's Freddie Brown accidentally tosses the ball to North Carolina's James Worthy with seven seconds left in the Tar Heels' one-point victory in the Final Four. During the 30 seconds it takes to revive Reagan, Secretary of State Alexander Haig announces, "I'm in charge," declares martial law, invades Grenada and phones the Tar Heels' clubhouse to talk to Michael Jordan.

Oct. 26, 1986: A circus peanut lodges in Reagan's windpipe and cuts off his air supply when Bill Buckner lets Mookie Wilson's grounder roll between his legs in Game 6 of the World Series. Reagan loses consciousness for 24 minutes, giving Lt. Col. Oliver North and CIA director William Casey the opportunity to exchange arms for hostages, divert money from Iran arms sales to Nicaraguan Contras and instruct major-league owners to collude against free agents.

July 28, 1987: Reagan nods off and hits his head on the coffee table midway through an Orioles-Rangers doubleheader. He loses consciousness for 19 minutes, allowing White House secretary Fawn Hall time to shred key Iran-Contra documents and Pete Rose's betting slips.

June 6, 1989: President Bush vomits on Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori's lap after eating an extra-large order of Meadowlands super nachos.

President Clinton, Greg Norman
Only President Clinton and golfer Greg Norman know for sure what happened during that "stairway stumble."
July 12, 1993: President Clinton suffers whiplash, when Morganna sprints onto the field at the All-Star Game.

Sept. 6, 1998: Moments after Mark McGwire breaks Roger Maris' home run record, Clinton strains his back when he "hugs" Maris' daughter.

Sept. 10, 2000: Clinton suffers slight retina damage after a cheerleader pokes him in the eye when she catches him peeking into their locker room at Veterans Stadium before the Eagles-Giants game.

And finally ...

Jan. 14, 2002: After President Bush chokes on a pretzel and faints while watching the Ravens game, Vice President Dick Cheney and Attorney General John Ashcroft respond by ordering Brian Billick, Ray Lewis and Mr. Salty to appear before a military tribunal.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.



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