Tigers Coach Competed In Legendary NFL Game
By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
COACH ALEXANDER: Broken Arrow coach David Alexander watches as his team practices. He has led the Tigers to the Class 6AI title game for the second time as head coach.
Photo courtesy Broken Arrow High School Athletics
The storm delay at the Class 6AI championship on Nov. 30 is not the only time Broken Arrow coach David Alexander dealt with adverse weather conditions in a game.
Remember the Fog Bowl? That 1988 postseason battle between the Chicago Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles? Where fog came onto the field in the middle of the game?
Familiar names from that debacle are Mike Ditka, Buddy Ryan, the coaches, respectively. Bears like Jim McMahon and Mike Singletary, Eagles such as Randall Cunningham and Reggie White, the list goes on.
But one player people may not be aware of who competed in that game is Alexander. Also a former University of Tulsa standout, the Tigers’ coach started left guard for the Eagles in that legendary game that had its 30th anniversary on New Year’s Eve.
The game, played at Soldier Field in Chicago, was an Divisional playoff with a berth in the Championship on the line. The fog obscured the view for most fans and press box workers. Field cameras had to be used for the action to be seen on TV.
“It stands out quite a bit, because it was so different, such a unique environment,” Alexander said. “But, the first thing that pops into my head that no one talks about is the crowd couldn’t see what was going on. It was so quiet. There was no cheering. There was no music being played. It was just like a practice.”
Through the game, Alexander mostly had the task of blocking Dan Hampton or Steve McMichael, two of the leading players on the Bears’ famed defense of that era. It was a big experience, he said.
The game started as a competitive and fierce battle. Chicago scored two touchdowns while all of Philadelphia’s points came on field goals despite moving the ball effectively. It scored a few touchdowns that were negated by penalties. The Eagles had possession when the fog descended from Lake Michigan, not far from the stadium, a few minutes before halftime. The drive led to their third field goal of the game and they were down 17-9 going into the locker room.
“We were standing on the field and there was a TV timeout. We were about at the 30-yard line. We all looked down there and the fog, like a stage at a concert, had come off the lake and hit the stadium. It was coming down the stairs of the stadium at the far end and the crowd started going crazy. We thought, ‘well, that was kind of weird.’ We played the rest of the half and then we go in at halftime, and we come out and you can’t see anything. The fog got worse as the game went on. By the time it was over, you could hardly see anything.”
Alexander explained the view the players had in each situation.
“If you were on the sidelines, you could see the hash marks. You could probably see about 20 yards,” Alexander said.
“You could see the tight end, the tackle, and maybe the guard and then it fades away,” he said. “If the ball went (one) way, they just ran out of sight. You just couldn’t see them. You didn’t know whether to cheer, you didn’t know what was going on.
“On the field (from the line), you could see the linebackers, but you couldn’t see anybody on the sidelines, that’s what I remember the most,” Alexander added.
“It didn’t seem like a playoff game. I played in other playoff games and the crowd is going nuts, especially on the road. But in this game, you can’t hear anything. It’s a great environment, and here we are in a playoff game against the Chicago Bears and nothing — it was bizarre. It was like the twilight zone,” he said.
The only scoring that took place in the fog-filled second half was a pair of field goals – one by each team. The Bears won 20-12 and the Eagles’ season came to an end.
“We had some great football players,” Alexander said. “We probably underachieved with the talent we had. We never could move far enough in the playoffs, the way we should have.”
The Eagles lost their first playoff game the next two seasons as well and Ryan was fired as coach. They would not win a postseason game until 1992.
Alexander’s last season with the Eagles came in 1994. He ended his playing career two years later with the New York Jets.
Now, he coaches Broken Arrow to playoff appearances every year and just led the Tigers to their first ever state championship.
“As a head coach, you have to be prepared for all kinds of things that no one else would think of, and weather can be one of those. In a situation like that (fog), you’ve got to run with the football, because you’re not going to be able to throw it down the field,” he said.
“I’ve been in a strange weather game, so, maybe that helps me now as I’m making plans for Friday nights,” Alexander said.