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Inside the NFL

It's a Cliche Now, but They Really Made a Splash in '85

September 20, 2003|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

At Gatorade headquarters, it's known simply as the Dunk.

It represents the moment in 1985 when New York Giant defensive tackle Jim Burt and linebacker Harry Carson crept up behind Bill Parcells in the final moments of a victory over Washington and drenched him with a cooler of the drink. The Giants and Redskins renew their rivalry Sunday in Washington.

Thing was, the Dunk was borne out of vengeance, not celebration. It was a way for Burt to get back at the coach, who had been pestering him all week not to get beat by Redskin center Jeff Bostic. Burt got the better of Bostic and was looking for some way to get back at Parcells. He picked Carson as a partner in crime because he was a favorite of Parcells, who had coached linebackers before being promoted to head coach. If Carson was involved, how mad could the coach get?

"I agreed to do it," Carson said. "But I said, 'Jimmy, we have to wait until he takes his headphones off.' We had no idea what the electrical currents might do to him. As soon as he took his headphones off, we hit him with the Gatorade."

Grumpy as he is, Parcells is also superstitious, so he put up with the gag for years after that. It wasn't the first time anyone doused a coach in celebration, but it spawned copycat soakings at all levels of football.

And there was another byproduct, Carson said: "We made Gatorade an awful lot of money."

How much money is incalculable, but the company still looks at the episode with reverence.

"We think of it as kind of a sacred thing," said Jill Kinney, a spokeswoman for Gatorade. "The fact that it was so authentic and unpredictable, we want to leave it that way."

Maybe that's why the company frowns on another nickname for the celebration: The Dump.

"That," Kinney said, "just doesn't have the same ring to it."

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