Millions of fax messages are sent out every day. While fax has played a distant second fiddle to email for years now, it remains an important channel for official communication. Furthermore, the fax itself has evolved with the proliferation of internet technology. Today, online fax offers the best of both worlds.
Surprisingly, whether traditional or internet-based, faxes have been at the center of some of the most important events in sports history. Here is a look at five of the most memorable ones.
A Fax Worth Millions
Elvis Dumervil, one of the top defensive ends in the NFL in 2013, was supposed to sign a restructured contract with the Denver Broncos. The contract was going to see Dumervil receive $12 million in guaranteed income. It would also free up cap space for the Denver Broncos.
Unfortunately, the player’s agent faxed the paperwork six minutes past the deadline. As a result, the Broncos cut Dumervil, making him a free agent and avoiding a $12 million payout. Dumervil fired his agent and signed a contract with the Baltimore Ravens that came with $8.5 million in guaranteed money. The late fax effectively cost him $3.5 million.
A Collapsed Transfer
David de Gea, the Manchester United goalkeeper, was on course to make a lucrative move to Real Madrid in 2015. But the deal collapsed because Real Madrid received the fax from Manchester United two minutes late.
As expected, there were accusations and counter-accusations. United insisted it had done everything correctly and on time. Real Madrid indicated that United delayed the fax deliberately to sabotage the transfer. Some claimed the fax machine was the problem.
De Gea eventually signed a contract extension that has seen him remain with United for years, but it was definitely not what he wanted at the time.
A G.O.A.T. Departs
Lionel Messi, one of the greatest of all times (G.O.A.T.) in the soccer world, had become synonymous with Spanish giant Barcelona FC. His decorated career at the club touched an unprecedented low following a 2-8 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich. It was the culmination of a season with no trophy, and the star was hungry for change.
According to his agent, Messi’s contract had a clause allowing him to leave Barcelona for free. The only condition was notifying the club at the season’s end. Messi chose to send the notice using fax.
A Legend Retires
In 1999, Barry Sanders was the NFL’s leading rusher and was well on his way to becoming the league’s all-time best running back. This glorious career, however, came to an abrupt end when Sanders announced his retirement through a fax sent to the Wichita Eagle, his local newspaper.
The announcement sent shockwaves through the sports world, given that Sanders was in the prime of his career. His team, the Detroit Lions, was infuriated and demanded Sanders refund the huge signing bonus he had received on his contract’s extension. The Lions refused to release him and Sanders declined to return the money.
It took an arbitrator’s intervention to resolve the impasse. A chaotic end to a history-making career.
His Airness Returns
Michael Jordan is one of the greatest basketball players in history. After his first retirement from basketball, he tried replicating this success in baseball. It did not work and it was not long before he was back on the court.
How did he return? In March 1995, he scribbled the words “I’m back” on a piece of paper and faxed it. The Chicago Bulls went on to win three more titles with Jordan on the team. With his fax-initiated return, Jordan cemented his place as the most revered player in the history of the NBA.
Not the Last of Fax
Faxes have facilitated the announcement of many pivotal moments in the world of sports. With millions of faxes sent each year, it is unlikely that we have heard the last of major sports decisions communicated by fax.