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A Cat — In A Miami Football Stadium For Some Reason — Dangles, Falls And Survives

It was for only about a minute that a cat dangled perilously from the upper deck of Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., with nothing but an American flag — outstretched 30 feet below — to break its fall.

But the drama gripped thousands of fans who had ostensibly come to watch a university football game between the then-No. 22 Miami Hurricanes and the Appalachian State Mountaineers on Saturday.

Ten minutes into the first quarter, the game itself could not possibly compete with the spectacle of a black and white cat clinging to a cable by both front paws at first — then just one — as the fans below gasped and cried out.

Then, it fell.

On the deck below, a group of fans was holding out an American flag as a sort of net, which softened the cat's fall enough for a student to grab it and hold it up triumphantly to show that it had survived. The fans cheered.

"He caught the cat! Unbelievable!" said play-by-play announcer Joe Zagacki on radio station WQAM, pausing only for a breath before calling a 20-yard rush by Miami running back Donald Chaney Jr.

The Miami Herald tracked down the owner of the American flag, a University of Miami facilities manager named Craig Cromer, who told the paper that he and his wife, Kimberly, bring the flag to every game to hang over the railing in front of their seats.

When they saw the cat dangling, Cromer said, he tore the flag off its zip ties, and he and Kimberly stretched it out and waited for the cat to fall.

"It seemed like it took forever," he told the paper. His wife called the incident "probably the strangest thing that's happened."

With the memorable images of a feline clinging desperately by its front paws at a terrifying height and then held up triumphantly overhead, comparisons to The Lion King were perhaps inevitable.

There was no word on exactly why a cat was in attendance at the Miami-Appalachian State game or how it slipped over the edge of the upper deck.

But for Miami fans, the cat saga was perhaps the only highlight of a game that many Hurricanes fans hoped to have dominated. The University of Miami needed a late-game field goal and heroic last-minute defense to squeak out a 25-23 win over underdog Appalachian State University.

"I don't know anything about that or what was going on, but I'll tell you — if the cat can help our red-zone offense, I'll see if we can get it a scholarship," said Miami coach Manny Diaz after the game.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Becky Sullivan has reported and produced for NPR since 2011 with a focus on hard news and breaking stories. She has been on the ground to cover natural disasters, disease outbreaks, elections and protests, delivering stories to both broadcast and digital platforms.