Today, we are bringing you one of our favorite sports podcasts, “Hall of Shame.” From Crooked Media, “Hall of Shame” is dedicated to the sensationalized scandals, schemes and setups in the dramatic world of sports. Hosts Rachel and Rachna, Cleveland fans through and through, have looked at all sorts of cheats and swindlers from Rosie Ruiz and her fake Marathon win to the 2000 Spanish Paralympic Basketball Team that lacked a lot of basic human empathy.
But the focus today is on their episode titled “The Biggest Sting in Sports History (Operation Flagship).” It happened on December 15, 1985. The Washington Football Team had been dominating the NFC East, winning the conference three seasons in a row. Less than one month before, quarterback Joe Theismann’s leg was gruesomely broken during a tackle by New York Giants’ linebacker Lawrence Taylor. Still, they were the hottest ticket in D.C.
And since they were the hottest ticket in D.C., any fan of WFT was going to show up to a lavish brunch before seeing Washington take on the Cincinnati Bengals entirely for free. Yup, people were seemingly randomly selected to receive two free tickets to the game and brunch. And on top of that, you also had the chance to win tickets to the Super Bowl that year! It was almost too good to be true.
Because once all of those 3,000 people with these free tickets showed up and had their IDs checked at the door, the cheerleaders all pulled guns out from under their uniforms and declared they were under arrest. All of these free ticket holders were fugitives, wanted for a variety of different crimes. In the crowd were actually two of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Criminals. Chaos abruptly ensued and Operation Flagship was deemed the biggest sports sting of all time. We’ll call it sports-adjacent, though.
It’s been heralded to this day as a huge success, but Rachel and Rachna can’t help but point out what a huge waste of money, time and resources this was for everybody. Why throw a big party? Also, while some of the fugitives were rapists and murderers, some of them were people who were wanted for bail violations. So, pretty different levels of illegal.
To hear more about this controversial sting operation, check out “Hall of Shame.” Also, for more spooky episodes, check out their episodes “There Will Be Blood (2009 Rugby Bloodgate Scandal)” and “Enter Sandman (The Horse Killing Scandal).”