In the NFL, crazy finishes happen all of the time. Most of them get cool nicknames, too, such as the River City Relay or Miracle in Miami. Perhaps the wildest finish of all doesn’t have a fancy name or involve a superstar player, but the legend of former Green Bay Packers kicker Chester Marcol is truly one of a kind.
Before the 1980 season began, Marcol was a household name for the Packers. The Poland-born kicker was the 1972 NFC Rookie of the Year, a two-time All-Pro, and two-time Pro Bowl selection. He still holds the NFL record for most field goals attempted during a rookie season and is in the Packers Hall of Fame.
Marcol was no slouch. He wasn’t some bum picked out of the stands to kick a football. But on one afternoon and Lambeau Field in Wisconsin, Marcol became a hero for scoring an unlikely touchdown and did it while he was high on cocaine.
Chester Marcol’s Miracle Touchdown
Born in Opole, Poland, Czeslaw Boleslaw Marcol moved to the United States when he was a teenager, where he would learn football in high school and play at Hillsdale College in Michigan. Young Chester was a natural and was selected in the second round in the 1972 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers.
Marcol had a fine career with the Packers and Houston Oilers, but no kick he ever made can top the game-winning touchdown against the Chicago Bears in the 1980 season opener at Lambeau Field.
In sudden-death overtime, and the game tied 6-6, Marcol went out to boot the 35-yard game-winning field goal. The snap was good. The hold was good. Marcol got plenty of leg on it. However, the Bears blocked it.
All of a sudden, Marcol found the ball in his hands, and he took off running. He turned the corner with blazing speed and wasn’t going to be denied getting into the end zone. It was amazing at the time and still is today. The game ball is still in the Packers Hall of Fame.
What makes the entire play wild, however, was Marcol admitted he was high on cocaine in his book “Alive and Kicking: My Journey Through Football, Addiction and Life” and shared again by The Versed:
“I had not only scored a touchdown, but a game-winner and against our hated rivals, the Bears, no less. In the locker room afterward, Starr presented me with a game ball and asked me to lead the team in prayer. I did so with tears of joy streaming down my cheeks. The ball I carried into the end zone is today in the Packers Hall of Fame.
“But here’s the thing about that touchdown that nobody knows:
“I was under the influence of cocaine when I scored.
“I had gone into the bathroom at halftime and, while the coaches and players were preparing for the second half, I snorted coke. I don’t know if it would be accurate to say I was high when I scored that touchdown two hours later, but I definitely was under the influence.Advertisement
“It’s not something I’m proud to admit. But it happened and to tell the story of my touchdown without including the part about the cocaine would not be an honest account.”
There’s a lot to unpack in that story. In the first game of the NFL, Marcol did some cocaine in the locker room at halftime, hung out on the sidelines for a couple of hours, had his game-winning kick blocked, and then scored on a long touchdown run to win the NFC rivalry showdown.
Unbelievable. Talk about an adrenaline rush.
The blocked field goal attempt and touchdown wasn’t in the playoffs or to win the Super Bowl, which would have made it even crazier, but all true Packers fans remember it. It’s like Aaron Rodgers and his Hail Mary throws against NFL teams. It just never gets old.
Later that season, Packers head coach Bart Starr released Marcol, and he signed with the Houston Oilers. He never kicked again after that season.
This isn’t the first time something crazy like this has happened. It won’t be the last. However, Chester Marcol will always be a Packers legend for his touchdown run and the crazy story behind it.