Thank you for the reminder, Billy Cundiff…I needed it.

January 24, 2012 | Drew Forrester

Thank you for the reminder, Billy Cundiff…I needed it.

At the risk of getting overly dramatic about Sunday’s loss in New England and the impact that defeat by the Ravens had on the Baltimore community, I’m going to glide slowly over to another topic that has me much more interested than arguing about whether or not Lee Evans really did catch that ball (he did not) or if the Ravens would have won in overtime had only Billy Cundiff connected on that 32-yarder (I have no idea).

I’m writing about a subject that probably won’t be looked upon with much favor.  Hopefully you’ll read it twice if that’s what it takes to understand my position.

What happened to Billy Cundiff on Sunday in New England and the way he handled himself in the locker room afterwards and again on Monday at the team’s facility in Owings Mills reminded me of something very important.  I’m sorry it took such a shocking set of circumstances to once again reinforce this to me, but that’s how the ball bounces — or hooks left, in this case.

Kickers are among my favorite people in all of sports.

They join the likes of hockey and soccer goaltenders, pitchers, and coaches in the short list of folks I deeply admire in the world of athletics.

I’ve said it a lot in my nearly 10 years on the air at WNST.  Coaches are my favorite “people” in all of sports.

But kickers aren’t far behind.

And Billy Cundiff gave me yet another reason to brag about kickers by virtue of the way he dealt with his misfortune.

He handled it all with grace and dignity and never once questioned fate, the weather, the field, the snap, the hold, the lights, the pre-game meal, his socks being too tight or the ball not being inflated with the right pressure.

Cundiff simply told the truth — “I’ve made that kick a thousand times.  I just didn’t make this one.”

And then he delved into the reality of the situation, touching on the critical nature of his response by reminding anyone who has children of what the most important aspect of his post-game reaction would be.

“I need to make sure my children learn from this,” Cundiff said afterwards.  ”They look to me to teach them things.  I’ll use this as a teaching moment for them.  You have to bounce back from adversity.  There’s no sense in letting it bring you down, because you can’t change what happened.  I just have to make sure they know what’s really important is to get back out there, work harder, and make sure the next time an opportunity comes along like that, I give it my best and make the kick.”

Kickers, goaltenders, pitchers.

I love those freakin’ guys.

I love them because they have “a record”.  They each have statistics to back up how well or how poorly they’ve performed.  How many kicks have you made?  How many goals have you allowed?  How many earned runs have you surrendered?

You never see a stat saying, “The left tackle for the Falcons had 5 whiffs last week in the game against the Saints, giving him 21 whiffs on the year, tied for 2nd in the league.”

You don’t see a note in the press release that reads, “The defenseman for the Blues has coughed up the puck 3 times in his own end tonight, giving him a team high 32 “coughies” this season.

And you would never hear an announcer state, “That’s the 4th time tonight the power forward has failed to set the right screen on that inbounds play, giving him 18 missed screens for the season.”

But when a kicker misses, it’s on him.

Same with a goaltender.  If that puck gets past you, another blemish goes on your record.

Same with a pitcher.  If you throw that ball and the guy at home plate hits it out of the park, he hit that home run off of YOU.

I was 10 feet in front of Billy Cundiff when he spoke on Sunday in New England and on Monday in Baltimore.  He never once got flustered or aggravated, despite the fact that on Sunday at least three different people asked him the same question…”what happened on that last kick?”  He said the same thing every single time.  ”I missed it.  My record (there’s that word again) kicking in the 4th quarter has been really good while I’ve been with the Ravens.  This just happened to be the one I missed.  I wish I wouldn’t have missed it.  But I did.  It’s on me.”

“It’s on me.”

That’s what you say when you’re the kicker and there’s no hiding from the fact that literally no one else on the team can do what you do.  If Ray Lewis has to miss four games – like he did this season – someone else steps in and does what Ray does.  If Ray Rice gets the flu and can’t play, Ricky Williams gets 25 snaps and handles the workload with a smooth transition.

The kicker is the only guy on the team who can kick a 45 yard field goal.

So, he’s literally speaking the truth when he says, “It’s on me.”

It can’t be on anyone else, because no one else can do it. (Please see next page)

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21 Comments For This Post

  1. Tom in Sparks Says:

    Drew, a great piece. Sadly that kick brought back my memory of watching Scott Norwood’s 47 yard FG sail wide right in the Bills first Super Bowl loss. But Cundiff’s reaction and your piece also reminded me of something good in sport that happened after that miss. Scott Norwood reacted just as well as Cundiff did this past week, he took it on his shoulders and acted like a man in how he reacted see – http://www.buffalonews.com/topics/super-bowl-xxv/article326070.ece

    Additionally, what I also remember is the over 30,000 fans showed up at city hall the next day to meet the team and the loudest cheers were for Scott Norwood. A team and a city stood up and said, “it is ok, Scott.” A baltimore fans, while no doubt are sad about the loss and what might have been, should feel the same way. It was a great season, the team played hard, and we are proud of you.

    To often we forget that all these guys, or any of us for that matter, can do is go out and give it your best effort. As fans that is all that we are allowed to ask of them, and all we should ask of ourselves. We just get to hope that their best effort is enough to win the game, so that we can feel some pride in their success.

    It is hard to believe that it has been 21 years since Scott Norwood missed that kick. As a fan we will never forget those moments, but guys like Scott Norwood and Billy Cundiff help us take those memories and also remember the way in which they handled it. It helps us remember the way in which we should handle our own success and failures. Give it your best effort, that is all that you can do, and hope that success follows, but also remember that many times it will not.

    I was fortunate enough to read a book by one of the greatest coaches ever and his definition of success has stayed with me and I think that it is important for all to take heed of his words. John Wooden said, “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.” Billy Cundiff and Scott Norwood did just that, they gave it their best effort and understand that it does not guarantee anything.

  2. JJ Fozz Says:

    Drew, thanks for the post. I read Cundiff’s quote with my 7 yr old son and discussed it. At the end he said, “I understand. But I’m still mad”, well we all are.

    There’s a great story on Deadspin about why we need scapegoats and it makes a great point: 92 people go out and play 60 minutes of football, so blaming one person is ridiculous.

    Every action counts, not just one.

  3. charlie Says:

    cundiff is a good guy and doesn’t deserve hate. he blew it, but the team blew it more. win as a team, lose as a team.

  4. The "Armchair QB" Says:

    Great post, Drew! Cundiff should heve been kicking an extra point instead of a field goal, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Based on reports following the game from Sam Koch and others, there was enough confusion on the Ravens’ sideline at that moment to warrant use of their last time out, which according to Koch, the coaching staff wasn’t aware they had! So, Ray Lewis summed it up perfectly when he said, “We win as a team and we lose as a team”! If memory serves me correctly, Billy Cundiff has been instrumental in any number of “wins” since his arrival here………

  5. Cliff Says:

    Lee Evans catches that pass and he is a hero along with Joe Flacco (in Baltimore). Billy Cundiff is remembered as the kicker who kept the Ravens in the game with his 2 field goals.

    Scott Norwood makes that field goal and he is a hero in Buffalo. Nice comments, Tom in Sparks. Nice article, Drew.

    Bill Buckner gets that grounder and the Mets only tie the score against the Red Sox. The Mets win in the 11th inning anyway and Buckner is only remembered as being a good hitter in baseball.

    The Ravens devastate Pittsburgh here in Baltimore. The Ravens win in the last few seconds in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh loses a playoff game in overtime on a 80-yd pass play from of all people: Tebow. And there are people of character who do not deserve to be considered “goats” or “losers” for the rest of their lives.

  6. Ken Says:

    I feel bad for the guy, but I don’t blame him. He should have never been in the position to make a hurried, rushed kick like that. Kickers have their routines and when they are rushed and their timing is off, they miss kicks. The story now is that the scoreboard was showing the wrong down, indicating it was 3rd down when it was really 4th down. When Cundiff realized it was actually 4th down and came sprinting onto the field with only 13 seconds on the play clock, the team should have used their final timeout to give him time to get himself together. There is no excuse for not using the timeout to make sure he’s ready for the most important kick of the season. (DF: You’re assuming Cundiff KNEW all of that stuff. I doubt he did. He’s a kicker. His job is to kick. He’s told “get out on the field” and that’s what he does. The lack of a time-out goes squarely on the coaching staff, in my opinion.)

  7. Lisa, Aberdeen Says:

    Very good blog. I do not have children but was touched by his post game interview comments when I heard them Sunday night.

    How soon everyone forgot on Sunday night the # of touch-backs on kick offs Cundiff had last year. Unfortunately, the miss will outweigh that.

  8. David Kaplan Says:

    Awesome article. I can’t wait to print this out and show it to my kids tonight!!! Thanks for reminding all of us!!!

  9. Scott Kotarides Says:

    Epic piece. Well said. Cerebral, truthful, and positive.

  10. John in Westminster Says:

    Nice points and you really have to feel for the guy. Kinda like a few years ago in the Super Bowl when the moment was a little too big for McNabb. But just as every QB in this city will be measured against Unitas or the elite QBs in the league, every kicker will measured against Stover. Hopefully, folks grasp that the word ‘exceptional’ comes from the root ‘exception’, meaning rare (a few percent). And that we also weigh that fact along with his production (FGs and Kickoffs) when determining if Cundiff should be around next season.

    On another note, I’m thinking the Ravens should not even offer the #7 as a jersey number choice as it appears to be cursed ;)

  11. Jimmy Mack in Abingdon Says:

    Great piece Drew. Well done sir. You have been on a roll the past month (your meltdown on the air was my favorite) but this piece is right up there. I’m just as upset with the missed FG as everyone else, but the fact remains you win as a team and lose as a team. And having a little bit of luck thrown in sure as hell doesn’t hurt.
    Cundiff is a stand up teammate but it’s apparent he’s even a better husdand and father. Cheers to 2011 and we will be back in 2012. Go Ravens.

  12. Ken Says:

    (DF: You’re assuming Cundiff KNEW all of that stuff. I doubt he did. He’s a kicker. His job is to kick. He’s told “get out on the field” and that’s what he does. The lack of a time-out goes squarely on the coaching staff, in my opinion.)

    Agreed. It falls on the coaching staff, that was the point. But Cundiff did know that something was wrong with the downs on the scoreboard. There was an article on Deadspin yesterday in which he detailed his routine when readying for a kick – where he stands on 1st down, what he does on 2nd down, etc. He said he knew something was wrong when he was doing his 3rd down routine and suddenly everyone was yelling at him to get in the game. All of that lead to him rushing the kick. The coaches are to blame for not calling a timeout.

  13. Dale Summers Says:

    Great piece Drew. An article like this helps keep sports in perspective.

  14. Rick Says:

    Y’know, I was upset and voiced my anger toward Cundiff, Evans and Cameron on social media.

    I stll feel that his missed kick was one of several mistakes that cost us the game and the trip to Indy. But, he did seem to set a good example to his teammates and his kids and as other responses noted, he did kick a lot of touchbacks and helped us win other games.

    I also read that a 49ers player blamed as the “goat” for their game received death threats recently. Fans can be cruel, especially in Baltimore. It seems like only yesterday I was upset at a Ravens’ fan sitting next to me at a game that stood up and cheered when Kyle Boller was injured on a play. When watching these games and being entertained or wanting to be entertained, we sometimes forget that the games are still played by people. Whether or not he is still a Raven, I wish Billy Cundiff and his family well.

  15. mrcairo46 Says:

    Billy,
    Have a great relaxing offseason. Love on your kids, spend time with the wife and come back next year ready to kick. You are a giant among men for the composure and humility you have demostrated, not just at this time, but the past couple years. You are my 12 year old daughters favoite player, (heck know how hard it was to get a 7 Cundiff jersey???) and I’m proud she has chosen YOU as her role model hero from the Ravens.
    MrC.

  16. florida ed Says:

    Kickers are paid big bucks to make long kicks let alone short kicks like this one. He has not kicked well on the road before. Drafting a kicker who can get us to the super bowl when given the chance is now a priority. Management does not pay for emotional excuses. They pay for execution especially in pressure situations. If they can’t do it they are not retained. (DF: Interesting outlook. I’m sure glad management didn’t elect to “not retain” Anquan Boldin last January after he dropped the potential game-winning pass in Pittsburgh. Sometimes athletes DON’T come through…)

  17. Art Lawrence Says:

    so i guess if we can put a loss in that kind of perspective, a win would not have meant much either…(DF: It would have meant a lot more than losing.)

  18. Dan Says:

    I wonder if Billy has the power to call “time out” now that would have been something ..:)

  19. barnyard Says:

    Has any thought been given to the fact that Cundiffs kickoffs have sucked all year? Leg strength, laziness after getting an extension? Maybe but what is not lost is that on Sunday his kickoffs gave the Patriots good field position on every kickoff & helped with their scoring either a field goal or TD. Their kicker constantly put us in a touchback position. I’d bring in competition & let the best man win. P.S., I’d also fire Jerry Rossburgs azz quicker than you can say special teams. This guy has cost us.

  20. FRANCHISE Says:

    Drew,

    My 14 year old son was furious and vowed he wasn’t going to school on Monday….Howver, I used this moment as a teaching lesson and said real men move on with life and learn how to lose gracefully with good sportsmanship!

    My 16 year old daughter said what a horrible way to lose a game and then proceeded to play her 3rd and 4th travel team indoor field hockey games at the Washington College Tournament.

    My 5 year old son was busy teasing and tormenting our new 6 week old puppie who I was going to call SUGGS (over-ruled on Balls so Hard) but now is Sammy.

    My wife said this was a great game then proceeded to make the Sunday Tomatoe Sauce and Meatballs for Sunday Spaghetti Dinner.

    You are right Drew—-Count your blessings!!!

    Regards,

    Shane Graham

  21. BizarroGlenn Says:

    You who agree with this article are same people that dilute victory with giving all choldren trophies in sports. We are raising a society of weaklings

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