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 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.