Terrell Owens makes record-breaking 20 catches

On December 17, 2000, during a 17-0 victory by the San Francisco 49ers over the Chicago Bears, San Francisco’s wide receiver Terrell Owens sets a new league record of 20 catches in a single game.

Drafted by the 49ers in the third round of the 1996 NFL draft, Owens was thrilled to join his hero, Jerry Rice. During his college career at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, he had worn Rice’s number (80). Early in the 1997 season, when Rice tore his ACL, Owens stepped up and became a star performer for the 49ers, grabbing 60 receptions for 936 yards and eight touchdowns over the season. After 16 straight winning seasons, the 49ers faltered in 1999 and stumbled to a 4-12 record. At the end of the season, the star quarterback Steve Young retired.

The 2000 season was also a losing season for San Francisco, though there were several saving graces. Rice continued to impress in what would be his final season with the 49ers, and was given a number of standing ovations during the 49ers’ shut-out of the Bears in San Francisco on December 17, Rice’s last appearance in his home stadium. On the field, however, Owens stole the show from his mentor, catching 20 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown and breaking Tom Fears’ record of 18, set with the Los Angeles Rams in December 1950 against the Green Bay Packers. Owens also broke Rice’s franchise record of 16 receptions in a single game, set against the Rams in 1994.

The volatile Owens had a difficult relationship with the 49ers organization, including Young’s successor as quarterback, Jeff Garcia, and head coach Steve Mariucci. He and the team parted ways after the 2003 season and Owens headed to the Philadelphia Eagles (not without a struggle involving a missed deadline for his free agent paperwork and the 49ers subsequent attempt to trade him to the Baltimore Ravens). Conflict and controversy continued to swirl around Owens in Philadelphia, and he was released from his contract in 2006. Signed by the Dallas Cowboys, he remains one of the NFL’s most talented–and controversial–stars.


“Squeaky” Fromme sentenced to life

A federal jury in Sacramento, California, sentences Lynette Alice Fromme, also known as “Squeaky” Fromme, to life in prison for her attempted assassination of President Gerald R. Ford.On September 5, a Secret Service agent wrested a semi-automatic .45-caliber pistol from Fromme, more

First airplane flies

Near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first successful flight in history of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft. Orville piloted the gasoline-powered, propeller-driven biplane, which stayed aloft for 12 seconds and covered 120 feet on its more

Ford Madox Ford is born

Ford Madox Ford, a writer, editor, and member of the so-called Lost Generation who served on the Western Front during the Great War, is born Ford Hermann Hueffer on this day in 1873. Hueffer (he would change his name to Ford Madox Ford in 1919) had already published his first more

Cambodian forces under heavy pressure

Cambodian government positions in Prak Ham, 40 miles north of Phnom Penh, and the 4,000-man base at Taing Kauk are the targets of continuous heavy bombardment by communist forces.The communist Khmer Rouge and their North Vietnamese allies were trying to encircle the capital more

“Silver Dollar” Tabor born in Denver

On this day, Rosemary “Silver Dollar” Tabor, the second daughter of Horace and Elizabeth “Baby Doe” Tabor, is born. The Tabors were one of Colorado’s wealthiest families of the time.Silver’s mother, Elizabeth Doe, came west from Wisconsin with her husband, Harvey, in 1877; the more

A federal court puts its stamp on hip-hop

Gilbert O'Sullivan, an Irishman who favored bowl haircuts, suspenders and pants that ended at the knee is mainly remembered as the "one-hit wonder" behind the melancholy early 1970s hit "Alone Again, Naturally." But on December 17, 1991, he earned a larger place in music history more

A Christmas Carol is published

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Circus catches fire in Brazil

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“Operation Iceman” nabs the culprit

Richard Kuklinski, a suspect in several murders, is arrested by undercover agents at a truck stop off the New Jersey Turnpike, marking the culmination of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms’ “Operation Iceman.” Kuklinski had sealed his fate when he showed operative more

Grant expels the Jews from his department

On this day in 1862, Union General Ulysses S. Grant lashes out at at Jewish cotton speculators, who he believed were the driving force behind the black market for cotton, and issues an order expellingall Jewish people from his military district, which encompassed parts of more