A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from July 19, 2004
Statue of Liberty Play
The Statue of Liberty play - usually called "the old Statue of Liberty Play" - is a trick football play that fakes a pass, but is really a handoff to someone just behind the passer.

The Statue of Liberty play is not to be confused with making a play for the Statue of Liberty. You should never do that. She's too tall. Plus, she's old and has green skin.

A few years ago, I found the following, and I thought it settled the issue:

21 August 1946, New York Herald Tribune, pg. 20, col. 2:
Fielding H. Yost Dies;
Michigan Football Idol
"Statue of Liberty" Play
Among the plays that Yost developed perhaps the most famous was "Old 83," the "Statue of Liberty" play in which a back pretends to pass and another back or an end comes around behind him and takes the ball off his upraised palm. Another was the fake place kick.

However, it now appears that the old Statue of Liberty play is even older:

26 November 1916, Los Angeles Times, pg. VI19:
POMONA, Nov. 25 - Older than the pyramids of Cheops, even so old that it was new, the time honored Statue of Liberty play which was famed in football nearly a quarter of a century ago was responsible for the defeat of the San Bernardino High School football team on the Pomona High School field this afternoon.

5 November 1922, New York Times, pg. 25:
Paves Way for Second Tally by "Statue of Liberty" Play (...)
In fact, this particular piece of trickery, which they called the "Statue of Liberty" play out in the wilds of Pennsylvania, is so hoary that it is almost moss-bound, like the old oaken bucket. Glenn Warner used it away back in the days of the Carlisle Indians, and it still goes on fooling the best defenses.
(It was used by Lafayette College in this article -- ed.)

6 November 1927, New York Times, pg. 52:
It was the ancient "Statue of Liberty" play, with McPhail faking a pass and Marsters coming around to take the ball from his over-stretched hand and continuing on around left end for the score.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • (0) Comments • Monday, July 19, 2004 • Permalink