One final “thank you” to Billy Cundiff for what I saw in New England last January

August 26, 2012 | Drew Forrester

One final “thank you” to Billy Cundiff for what I saw in New England last January

He answered good questions.  He answered dumb questions.  He didn’t roll his eyes when some nitwit said, “This one really hurts, doesn’t it?”.  He never once looked around the room to catch the eye of a Ravens PR staffer who would notice his discomfort and say “that will be enough questions, Billy has to catch a flight home.”

In the wake of his worst moment, Cundiff turned it into his finest hour.

He did something most athletes would never do.

He took the heat.

All of it.

No excuses.

No hints about a bad snap or a bad hold or a botched time-out call from the coach.

He simply said, “It’s on me.  I missed the kick.”

In an era where everyone tries to dodge their responsibility (look no further than the folks who run our country as an example), Cundiff wrapped his arms around it.

Several media members tried their best to ask a question that would get Cundiff to offer a headline-worthy excuse, but he didn’t bite.  He didn’t get mad.  Never got snarky.

He just stood there, in his suit and tie, and took the heat.

I remember standing there listening to him talk, some 10 feet from me, and thinking to myself, “I’m seeing something really special here.  I’m watching a man refuse to melt.”

Billy Cundiff lost his job on Sunday, as the Ravens decided to go with rookie Justin Tucker as their kicker for 2012.  I couldn’t care less about that.  It’s not my job to set the roster, it’s my job to talk about it.  If the Ravens decided to go with Tucker, chances are they’re making the right call.

My guess?  It won’t be hard for Tucker to be as good as Cundiff was in Baltimore.  Cundiff had a good run here, nothing more, nothing less.  He served the team well in his two years here.  A week before this year’s training camp started, I predicted on the air that Tucker would beat Cundiff out of the job.  Kickers are hired to be fired.

But the real test for Tucker will come when he misses one.  Or two.  The real examination of Justin Tucker will come when he’s facing the media in the wake of losing a game or missing a kick that costs his team.

We can all only hope he’s as good as Billy Cundiff was in that department.

 

 

 

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7 Comments For This Post

  1. The Armchair QB Says:

    Cundiff would have been justfied in second guessing the head coach’s decision not to take his last time out to better prepare for that important kick, but chose instead to take the high road by not offering any excuses. That shows character as well as class and my hunch is that he’ll help some other NFL team now that he’s a free agent. One can only hope that Justin Tucker proves as valuable on both kickoffs and field goals as his predecessor. Human nature being what it is, one can also wonder at the reception Tucker will get when he misses his first field goal attempt……..

  2. unitastoberry Says:

    Billy is a class guy and this is really the best thing for him to get with another team for a fresh start. The writing was on the wall for him just as it was for Lee Evans. We all knew last January that both of those players could not return to Baltimore as Ravens ever again. Pro sports are brutal.Tucker can miss a kick here and there just not the ones with seconds left to win/tie games inside the 40 or he will find himself in the same situation. Somewhere Jim O’Brien is thinking that he would have made that kick because thats what field goal kickers have to do in the NFL.

  3. Paul from Towson Says:

    Drew, I couldn’t agree with you more. Unlike most, I was rooting for Cundiff this preseason. I wanted him to keep his job and, hopefully, get a shot at redemption come playoff time. He was a stand up guy before, during, and after that game in New England. Unlike certain other “leaders” on this team, Billy stood in front of the cameras and took his medicine with honor, and dignity. Two traits that are lost on most of today’s people. It’s a shame that Cundiff leaves Baltimore in the way he did, after all he did for this football team in the time he was here. I join you Drew, in saying Thank Your to Billy Cundiff, and hoping that he catches on somewhere soon, and continues his career with the professionalism and class he always showed us here.

  4. John in Westminster Says:

    I will always root for Billy. However,I feel this was more of a cap decision than a missed playoff field goal.

  5. justafan Says:

    Sure, everyone remembers the missed field goal in the AFC championship game, but I recall the game the Ravens played in Pittsburgh when Billy converted on a 50+ yards field goal as time expired in the first half. If he misses that kick, the Ravens may not have won. My point is that Billy Cundiff has made clutch field goals during his career and it is unfortunate that he had to miss with the AFC championship on the line. Indeed, if Lee Evans dosen’t drop a touchdown pass that would have won the game, Justin Tucker probably would not be the Ravens new field goal kicker today. I only hope Tucker can produce when the games begin to count.

  6. Marty Says:

    God Bless you Billy. You went against the grain here in America to take responability for something that you did, or didn’t do. Personally I think Haurbaugh dropped the ball on this one. Had he called the time and settle everything down perhaps, PERHAPS we would have gone into OT. But he didn’t and Billy missed a chip shot. I wish him all the luck and hope he gets picked up soon.

  7. Robert Says:

    Drew:

    Well stated, although I think it likely is best for Cundiff that he move on; I was hoping to get a chance to see him redeem himself sometime this season, a true hollywood moment. In the back of my mind a dubious thought lurks that makes me think about depending upon an unproven rookie for extra points & field goals & to quote the Star Wars movies: “I have a bad feeling about this”. I hope I’m wrong. Cheers.

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