Good Evening, All.
This post is going up a little late, since I got swept up in the big playoff games. All things being equal, I would have rather seen my Jets paying at this level, as they did last year, but I was still happy to see the Giants win IN OVERTIME to win the NFC Championship. As I was telling a friend of mine, when football is played at this level, I want to see a CLOSE game, with both teams getting ahead and falling behind, with no clear winner until the very end. Otherwise, if it's a one-sided blowout, I'll just change the channel.
What we'll all remember about both championship games is that the kickers made the difference. In the AFC game, a kicker could have put the Ravens into overtime with a field goal, but poor guy, he missed. In the NFC game, a kicker won it once overtime already happened.
Strange thing about football -- most of the game is won or lost on tough defense, accurate passing, and fast running, which most of the players must be well-versed in, but sometimes the winning score is made by one guy on the team who only specializes in that one skill. While everyone else is taking the hits, rehabbing the injuries, hitting the weights, and talking the trash, this one guy just hones his accuracy in that one skill that nobody else practices but him. If he wins the game for the team, people shake his hand and then pass him by to give more accolades to the quarterback, running backs, and linebackers. If he loses the game for the team, then he gets all the criticism and blame. Not such an easy position to play, by any means. Success is always a team effort, but failure is his alone.
It goes without saying that I'm always looking out for the little guy. Since most of those kickers are much leaner than your typical behemoth-like player, kickers would certainly qualify as the little guy in more ways than one. I'm glad that today's championship games reminded us all to remember the little guys, because they truly can make the biggest difference in this game. For those of you reading this in the DC/Baltimore area, try to go easy on your little guy -- he had a lot riding on him. And even if nobody said anything about it, he'd still know it and remember it. Everything I've posted about not attacking people for making mistakes definitely applies to him, and everything I've posted about not flagellating yourselves when you make mistakes applies even more.
That being said, since these kickers have an advantage of longevity. Since they are exempt from absorbing the impact that most quarterbacks and halfbacks are expected to risk, their careers can last significantly longer. I'm sure that Baltimore's kicker will be back next year -- maybe not with the Ravens, from the chatter I hear, but certainly with another team. He'll have another chance to be a winner before his career ends, and his peers will hopefully stop thinking of him as "the guy who choked."
A friend of mine recently shared a link on Facebook that highlighted real regrets: In this link, a nurse who cared for the terminally ill on their deathbeds recalled the regrets people had as they neared the end. People faced with the end of their lives regretted forfeiting their goals, not being true to themselves, and not being happy more often. This nurse, however, did not recall patients regretting any specific mistakes, slip-ups, or choke-ups. That's because the deathbed is the time when we're all faced with our own evaluations, and not those of others. That Baltimore kicker will probably live a long and fulfilling life. Even if Ravens fans forever tar and feather his reputation, he will probably be more interested in doing more with his life than questioning whether the geometry and physics of that one play should have been realigned differently. I sincerely doubt he'll regret the end of a 2012 playoff game on his deathbed -- and he shouldn't!
For those of you on Facebook who know her, I encourage you to visit her Wall and click on that link -- it'll make you put everything in proper perspective.
Not to make this a double portion, but the topics of football and deathbed regrets are converging on the memory of one venerated college football coach -- Mr. Joe Paterno, who passed away today. Sadly, he may very well have had some deathbed regrets that had nothing to do with his storied coaching career. Unfortunately, these regrets led to the end of his career. However, that should not have been his regret. He already paid the appropriate price for what he did wrong, or did not do right, with regard to his assistant coaches, by having his career taken from him. He was still a winner who set high standards for his players, his staff, and for Pennsylvania State University itself. Once he paid the price, his misfeasance or nonfeasance was purged from his system. I can only hope that he left this earth with memories of national championships and undefeated seasons, and not of talk shows and tabloid journalism.
Have a good week all -- and don't be afraid to comment!