It wasn’t until about a minute that a cat hung dangerously from the top deck of Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, with nothing but an American flag – extended 30 feet below – to cushion its fall. .
But the drama subsumed thousands of fans who had apparently come to watch a college football game in between then-No. 22 Miami hurricanes and climbers from the state of the Appalachians.
Ten minutes into the first quarter, the game itself couldn’t compete with the sight of a black and white cat hanging on a cable, by the two front paws first – then only one – as fans below were panting and screaming.
Then he fell.
On the lower deck, a group of fans held out an American flag like a sort of net, which cushioned the cat’s fall enough for a student to grab it and triumphantly wave it to show it had survived. The fans applauded.
“He caught the cat!” Incredible ! Announcer Joe Zagacki said on radio station WQAM, stopping only for a huff before calling a 20-yard run from Miami running back Donald Chaney, Jr.
The Miami Herald has tracked down the owner of the American Flag, a University of Miami facilities manager named Craig Cromer, who said to the newspaper that he and his wife Kimberly bring the flag to every game to hang from the railing in front of their seats.
When they saw the cat hanging, Cromer said, he ripped the flag from its ties, and he and Kimberly stretched it out and waited for the cat to fall.
“It seemed to have taken forever,” he told the newspaper. His wife Kimberly called the incident “possibly the strangest thing that has happened”.
With the memorable images of a feline clinging desperately to its front paws at a terrifying height – then triumphantly above its head – comparisons to “The Lion King” were perhaps inevitable.
It wasn’t clear exactly why a cat was in attendance at the Miami-Appalachian State game, or how it slipped over the edge of the upper deck.
But for Miami fans, the Cat Saga may have been the one game highlight that many Hurricanes fans hoped to have dominated. Miami needed a late-game placement and heroic last-minute defense to secure a 25-23 victory over underdog Appalachian State.
“I don’t know anything about that or what was going on, but I’ll tell you – if the cat can help our red zone attack, I’ll see if we can get him a scholarship,” the Miami coach said. Manny Diaz after the game.
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