Remembering the famous Patriots snowplow game

Interview with local 'hero' Mark Henderson brings back fond memories

Since it won't stop snowing and today is the last day of everyone's vacation, we're going to veer off topic, much as Mark Henderson veered off his assigned course on Dec. 12, 1982.

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Any New England football fan of a certain age will remember the game: Henderson, out of prison on work release, was the driver of a John Deere tractor that swept clear a path on snow-covered Foxboro Stadium (then called Schaefer) prior to John Smith's winning field goal in a 3-0 Patriots win over the Miami Dolphins.

This morning's Boston Globe has an extensive interview with Henderson in which he discusses every detail of his time in the limelight, including an unfounded rumor years later that he himself had been plowed under. Of the momentous swerve he says:

"I didn't give it much thought at all. It was all over in a matter of seconds. I drove to the other side and stood with the cheerleaders in the corner, waiting for the kick. And when it went through, we all jumped up and down, screamed and yelled and hugged each other. It was great.''

It was great ... unless you were rooting for Miami.

As a lifelong Patriots fan, the game is indelibly etched into my sports consciousness both because of the outcome and the fact that Henderson and I attended the same high school -- North Attleboro High School -- a year or two apart. (I didn't know him well, but when you can lay claim to any association with a guy this famous there is simply no resisting.)

What the Globe story doesn't have -- at least online -- are any good photographs or video of what has become a legendary event in Boston sports history. (What's up with that, Globe editors?)

So I did a little search and came up with a couple of clips. The first one is a Weather Channel feature on the game that concisely sums up the particulars and captures the still-smoldering fury of former Dolphins coach Don Shula.

The second below shows the actual field-sweeping John Deere tractor, which is now on display at the Hall at Patriot Place in Foxboro.

Now I'm ready to go clear the driveway.

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