Craig Cromer is a facilities manager at the University of Miami and has had Miami Hurricanes season tickets with his wife, Kimberly Cromer, for about seven years. At every game, they hang an American flag over the railing right in front of their seats.
Their rescue mission to catch a stray cat as it fell from the upper deck during saturday's game against Appalachian State, Kimberly said, is "probably the strangest thing that's happened."
You would hope so.
Early in the second quarter of Miami's home-opener , a murmur rose up from the student section at Hard Rock Stadium. The students, many attending their first-ever home game, noticed a cat dangling from the upper deck. The Cromers turned around and first thought it was a dog. Another fan nearby thought it was someone's kid.
Once the Cromers realized what was happening, they sprung into action. Craig ripped his flag free from his zip-ties, and he and his wife stretched it out to create a landing pad for the terrified cat.
They stood there for about two or three minutes while, Craig estimated, while the cat peed on the fans below.
"It seemed like it took forever," Craig said.
Eventually, the cat lost its grip and tumbled down toward the suite level. The Craigs' flag did just enough to break the fall and let a group of students in the section below grab it as it fell to the ground.
The entire corner of the stadium in Miami Gardens, right by Miami's tunnel, erupted in cheers as one student raised the cat in the air like it was Simba from "The Lion King." Joe Zagacki, whose booth was right by the action, provided play-by-play for South Florida on WQAM.
"This," Craig said, "is my first catch."
Miami (1-1) wound up winning 25-23 for its first victory of the season, although coach Manny Diaz wasn't pleased with his red-zone offense. He wondered if maybe the resilient feline could help assuage his concerns.
"I don't know anything about that or what was going on," he said, "but I'll tell you if the cat can help our red-zone offense, I'll see if we can get it a scholarship."