“The Annexation of Puerto Rico”—which celebrates its 20th anniversary Tuesday—or the “fumblerooski,” as it is better known, was invented by John Heisman himself. The basic idea behind the play is that the center hikes the ball, the quarterback covertly places it on the ground as he (or the running back(s)) runs to the left or right direction, and a nearby offensive lineman grabs the ball and runs the other way to (what theoretically would be) wide-open ground. There have been countless iterations of the play, mostly at the college level, and it was ultimately banned in 1992 as a forward fumble. Rules for Pee-Wee football, however, are different than those for college football, so when Danny O’Shea’s Little Giants found themselves tied with the villainous Cowboys on the game’s final play, Danny realized he had only one option from his own goal line.
Nubie had been touting “The Annexation of Puerto Rico” ever since John Madden came to town, and the Giants finally got to put it to good use. Using Becky “The Icebox” O’Shea as a decoy, Zolteck snaps the ball to Junior who immediately puts it on the ground, then fakes a reverse while Zolteck scoops up the ball, freezes and then starts running forward. The student of football that he is, Kevin O’Shea sniffs it out almost immediately and starts screaming, “Fumblerooski!” at the top of his lungs. Spike, being more dog than tween, pays little attention and goes after the Icebox. By the time someone catches Zolteck (and brings him down with an obvious horse collar tackle), the center has already flipped the ball back to Junior, who carries it another couple dozen yards before flipping it back to Tad, who more or less waltzes into the end zone.
It’s pretty epic, it’s a game-winner and it’s got an awesome, memorable name. People like it so much that they’ve tried to convince people that the Carolina Panthers pulled it off a couple years ago (that play was really more of a trick handoff than the illegal fumblerooski). If a certain baseball movie hadn’t been released three months prior, it would be the owner of the top spot.