QUICK TAKES: Time Immemorial

“Time immemorial” is usually used poetically today, often in travel shows. So: “men have been fishing in this small Greek village since time immemorial”.

What you might NOT know is that “time immemorial” has an actual start date: June 6, 1189.

The Statute of Westminster of 1275 was the first attempt to codify the laws of England. As part of this, the idea of “time immemorial” was introduced – a time which was declared “the extent of human memory”. The date chosen was Richard I’s accession day. That’s “Richard the Lionheart”, or “Richard Cœur de Lion”, since he spent most of his life in France. The same Richard who left for the Crusades, leaving his brother John to run England… the same King John of Magna Carta and Robin Hood fame.

So the idea was, if there was some kind of land dispute, if a family could find local witnesses to prove that their goats had been grazing on the land since June 5, 1189, then it was generally accepted to be “your land”. You might think of it as a kind of “ultimate statue of limitations”, if you will.

A Record-Breaking Game

On December 9, 1973, the Atlanta Falcons played the St. Louis Cardinals in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Falcons quarterback Bob Lee and Cardinals quarterback Gary Keithley ended the game with 0.00 passer ratings. This is the only NFL game in history where BOTH quarterbacks ended with a “perfectly bad” rating. Lee went 3 of 16 for 27 yards with two interceptions; Keithley went 2 of 10 for 9 yards with one pick. Both teams had five fumbles, although St. Louis only lost 1 while the Falcons lost 3.

The Cardinals won 32-10.

UPDATE: For those of you who don’t follow NFL football, quarterbacks are the “field generals” of the game. They read the defense and arrange players like chess pieces, then decide whether to: hand the ball off to a running back, who tries to carry the ball downfield before getting tackled; or to throw it to a receiver, who can be as far downfield as the quarterback can throw; or keep the ball and run himself. Or, he can chose to simply “throw the ball away” if there’s no one to throw it to.

So here’s the thing: quarterbacks are given a rating based on several factors: pass attempts, completions, passing yards, touchdowns passes and interceptions.

A perfect score is 158.3 (weird, I know).

If either team’s quarterback had simply thrown every football at the closest beer vendor in the stands every single time the entire game, they would have ended up with a 39.9 rating (I think – someone please check my math). To get all the way to a zero rating, you have to throw the ball to the other team almost as much as your own team. That is, to be especially awful.

For two professional quarterbacks to end up with zero ratings – when playing each other! – is extremely rare. Which is why I wrote this!