By: Bob George/
February 01, 2003

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Dateline: New Orleans, Lousiana. Sunday, January 26, 1986. The New England Patriots played the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX. The Bears pounded the Patriots in what was then the most lopsided win in Super Bowl history, 46-10.

Dateline: Cape Canaveral, Florida. Tuesday, January 28, 1986. The space shuttle Challenger blows up just over one minute into flight. The entire seven-person crew is killed instantly, including New Hampshire teacher Christa McAuliffe, who would have been the first civilian in space in the history of USA space travel.

On Sunday, Patriot fans were depressed.

On Tuesday, Patriot fans were in shock.

On Sunday, Tony Eason wanted out of the game early on.

On Tuesday, the McAuliffe children wanted their mommie.

On Sunday, the Patriots set a record for the quickest score in Super Bowl history.

On Tuesday, the Challenger set a record for the quickest end to a manned space flight.

On Sunday, Lin Dawson tore his leg up on the first offensive play of the game for the Patriots, and lay on the ground in agony.

On Tuesday, Judy Resnik had her whole body torn up and vaporized, and perhaps didn't feel a thing.

On Sunday, Craig James was stopped cold by the Bears' rushing defense.

On Tuesday, Ron McNair was stopped cold.

On Sunday, Raymond Berry was at the helm of a disaster.

On Tuesday, Dick Scobee was at the helm of a far worse disaster.

On Sunday, Julius Adams retired after the game.

On Tuesday, Ellison Onizuka expired after the launch.

On Sunday, Steve Grogan tried in vain to bring his team back from a 20-3 deficit.

On Tuesday, Michael Smith tried in vain to live.

On Sunday, John Hannah could do nothing about the fearsome Bears' pass rush.

On Tuesday, Greg Jarvis could do nothing about the fearsome explosion that took his life.

On Sunday, Patriot fans watched in horror as their team got their butts kicked on the national stage.

On Tuesday, Mrs. McAuliffe's students watched in horror as their teacher got her life taken from her on the national stage.

On Sunday, an historic Patriot season blew up on the floor of the Superdome.

On Tuesday, an historic space mission blew up over the Atlantic Ocean.

On Sunday, the late Walter Payton groused because he didn't get to score a Super Bowl touchdown.

On Tuesday, here's hoping he got over it.

On Sunday, the Patriots set a record for the most times a quarterback was sacked in a Super Bowl.

On Tuesday, Challenger set a record for the most times a space shuttle mission was sacked.

On Sunday, it was soon learned that several Patriots had taken drugs prior to the Super Bowl.

On Tuesday, the families of the doomed astronauts perhaps wish that that was the worst of their problems.

On Sunday, Billy Sullivan watched his team's moment of high triumph go up in flames.

On Tuesday, President Reagan watched his nation's moment of high triumph go up in flames.

On Sunday, the Bears' final score came from a safety when someone named Henry Waechter sacked Grogan in the end zone.

On Tuesday, the doomed astronauts would have loved some safety.

On Sunday, Fred Marion and Ronnie Lippett were both burned by Willie Gault.

On Tuesday, seven astronauts were all burned a lot worse.

On Sunday, everyone had heard of the Super Bowl Shuffle.

On Tuesday, everyone had heard of a company named Morton Thiokol.

On Sunday, Berry was made to explain what went wrong.

On Tuesday, NASA was made to explain what went wrong.

On Sunday, the Patriot offense was grounded.

On Tuesday, the entire space shuttle program was grounded.

On Sunday, Grogan did manage to complete a lucky touchdown pass to Irving Fryar, just to save some face.

On Tuesday, the Challenger crew wishes it had been so lucky, and had saved more than just their faces.

On Sunday, it was a day that Patriot Nation long looked forward to, but instead became a day they'd just as soon forget.

On Tuesday, it was a day that America long looked forward to, but instead became a day they'd just soon forget.

It's now seventeen years later, almost to the very day.

Super Bowl XX has long been forgotten, except in the Windy City.

The Challenger has never been forgotten.

Seventeen years from now, how the Raiders did last Sunday will be forgotten long before it gets that far off in the distance.

And Columbia will never be forgotten.

Same for the Challenger.

And let's hope beyond hope that all sports fans nationwide never, ever lose sight of what is really important.