Remembering 9/11: The Year the NFL Stood Still

Official Reporter, Chicago Bears


By Wanda Wiedman // @WandaW63


Seventeen years ago today, the unthinkable happened on American soil. The United States became the victim of a horrific crime on humanity when it was attacked on September 11, 2001.

Almost every American can remember that day as if it were yesterday. I remember it well. I received a phone call from a friend early that morning asking me to turn on the news. I was shocked to see that a jet airliner had hit one of the Twin Towers in New York City. We discussed several possibilities as to what lead to the crash. Did the pilot have a heart attack? Or did the plane malfunction?

It wasn’t until I was looking at the screen did I see the second plane come around the bend straight for the second building. My reaction was simple, “Whoa, this is bad. Amiee, America has been attacked!”

That morning, most sports fans were focused on baseball playoffs and the beginning of the football season. Two days prior to the attack the NFL was abuzz with the incredible performance by Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, as they stormed past the New York Jets 45-24. The San Diego Chargers were also a topic of conversation as they blew past the Washington Redskins 30-3 with quarterback Doug Flutie under center.

But this event changed everyone’s scope. In light of the terrorist attacks, the games that were scheduled to start on September 16th and 17th were moved to January 6th and 7th. This was the only way the playoff format could retain its integrity and fairness in the playoff tree.

This was also the last season football had three divisions. The following year became the birth of the AFC and NFC South, and the renaming of the AFC/NFC Central to AFC/NFC North.

But for a moment the National Football League stood still. America rallied together in a state of compassion. Maybe it was because our vulnerability was exposed. Or maybe deep down nothing else mattered but the value of humanity.

Unfortunately, it is only when something catastrophic occurs does the world stand still and come to each other’s aid. I have witnessed the aid of brotherly love after 9/11, devastating earthquakes, and destructive hurricanes. Just last year, a simple Instagram pledge from JJ Watt of the Houston Texans catapulted over $40 million in relief help.

Farm Aid, We Are the World, and Live Aid all exceeded expectations. But if for just a moment we could remember that time stood still when four planes were used as missiles in an attempt to break Americans. The impact made to those who lost loved ones and the images etched forever in their memories.

As a football fan, the excitement of this past weekend seemed to have taken forever to get here. The crack of the helmets or the eruption of the crowd when a spectacular catch is made. It’s exhilarating! But for this day in history, maybe a moment of silence and reflection would change our perspective of how this date in time was designed. In one word – hate.

Granted, life goes on. We get the privilege to wake up every day, go to work, hang out with friends and watch the gridiron greats play the game we love. But we need to remember, those same people that died 17 years ago, had the same plans you did that Tuesday morning. 

Enjoy every moment you can.

Talk Bears with Wanda on Twitter @WandaW63

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