You probably don’t remember the name Michael Pantazis, but you might remember a Bears fan jumping into a tunnel to catch a Kevin Butler field goal in ’95 on Monday night football. Does that ring a bell? Somehow, Butler’s field goal went over the net only to be caught by the biggest Bears meatball fan in history. It is a rare occurrence to catch a ball at an NFL game, unless of course, Rex Grossman is quarterbacking one of the teams.
Who was that infamous fan who made Monday night football history? That would be thee Michael Pantazis. If you don’t know, Mike played high school football. He played offense. He played defense. He’s got great hands. And he’s been in football his whole life (watch above video). To catch the ball, Mike had to jump basically into space, and fell 25 feet. Yes, I’m pretty sure he was drinking. Does that tarnish this accomplishment? Hell no. The man is a legend.
How many other people could have timed their jump that perfectly? It’s almost as if he practiced this beforehand. What’s sad is that Mike probably has better hands than both Roy Williams and Johnny Knox. I’m sure if you find Mike in Skokie, he’ll try and convince you that he should have played in the league.
What if he had mistimed his jump? Could you imagine him trying to leave Soldier Field that night? It would be as bad as trying to get Bartman out of Wrigley during game 6 of the ’03 NLCS. He also could have fallen into the concrete wall and smashed his face. And how he didn’t shatter his leg in to 47 pieces still amazes me. It’s not as impressive as his mullet, but it’s close. You couldn’t pay me to have tried this. I would have second guessed it, and ended up alling down the side of the wall like an asshole. That’s what makes Pantazis such an icon. He has balls the size of grapefruits.
Mike won an ESPY for this catch, and has a shrine dedicated to the moment. However, the ball and the ESPY aren’t on display. “They’re so special,” Pantazis says. “I don’t want anything to happen to them.” Where could they be? It’s not like hiding money. I’m pretty sure nobody is looking to steal them. He also watched a Super Bowl with Jim McMahon, and appeared on David Letterman. Butler signed the ball “I kick it; You catch it, Kevin Butler.”
So this mullet’s for you, Mike. You are a legend, and it’s about time that I showed you some love. And if I’m ever lucky enough to get to see the shrine, you better bust out the ESPY & the ball. Like you, I’ve been in football my whole life, and I love it too. Cheers.