'I cherish the moment': 30 years later, Beebe happy to be remembered for Super Bowl hustle play

It's not unusual for an athlete's long career to be best remembered by a single play. So might as well make it a good one.

Former NFL wide receiver Don Beebe can relate to this idea. This week marked the 30th anniversary of his famous hustle play in Super Bowl 27.

With about five minutes left in the game, Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Leon Lett picked up a fumble and returned it 64 yards. He was about to score a touchdown, but Beebe caught him from behind, knocked the ball loose and it rolled out of the end zone for a touchback.

Now head coach at Aurora University, Beebe was asked if it bothers him to be remembered by that one play, when he played nine seasons in the NFL as a wide receiver and hauled in 219 career receptions.

"No, not at all and here's why," Beebe said. "Ninety-five percent of the guys who retire in the league, five years later nobody remembers their name except the Hall of Famers, right?

"Then I fall into this unique category of somebody that made a play that impacted thousands. It's 30 years later and I still hear and talk about this play almost every day. Somebody sends a letter or writes an email, just crazy."

Beebe also has an amazing success story, going from Kaneland High School and Division 2 Chadron State (Neb.) to be a third-round draft pick of the Buffalo Bills in 1989.

As a coach, he's posted a 31-7 record in four seasons at Aurora and won two high school state titles at Aurora Christian.

"For me, playing football has always been about impacting people," he said. "That's always been, I felt like, my calling. What better way to have a play like that to impact people?

"I cherish the moment. I wish it would have been in a win. But the short story of that is I can't tell you how many people it's impacted. And that I cherish."

Beebe's Bills lost that game 52-17 at the Rose Bowl, and Lett probably doesn't get enough credit for being a Super Bowl champ.

Beebe also caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from Frank Reich that day. He ended up playing in four Super Bowls, finally winning one with Green Bay at the end of the 1996 season.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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