And before you spout off stuff like, “That’s what he gets paid for…” and “He’s supposed to talk to the media afterwards…” let me remind you that not all men – or athletes – are created equal.
Often times in sports, players make much more money than the balance sheet of their performance would ever justify. And plenty of guys – including some awfully high-ranking Ravens players – dodged the media on either Sunday or Monday in the aftermath of the season-ending loss in New England.
Billy Cundiff didn’t dodge anyone.
He stood up and faced the music and answered the same question over and over and over. And it should be noted that not once did he say anything like, “Hell, I can’t feel too bad about it. There’s not even a guarantee that we would have won the game in overtime anyway.” Even though, as you know, that’s pretty much the truth. Cundiff could have made that 32 yarder and four minutes later it wouldn’t have mattered if Tom Brady hit Rob Gronkowski on a 21-yard touchdown throw in overtime.
No, Cundiff didn’t talk about “what if” or “what might have been”. He stood up for two straight days and said, “You can pin this one on me.”
That’s part of the special creed kickers sign up for when they decide they’ll spend some period of their life wearing two different kinds of shoes to work.
It’s your job to kick the ball through the uprights, period. If the snap is bad, that doesn’t change anything. Kick it. If the hold isn’t great, that still doesn’t matter. Kick the ball. If the wind is in your face, that’s the way it goes. Kick it harder. And if the rain is coming down so hard you can’t see the goalposts anyway, you better get your alignment right and boot that thing true because…well…because you’re the kicker and that’s what you do.
And if for some reason it doesn’t work out, you never make an excuse.
You just say, “It’s on me.”
I didn’t hear Bart Scott say “it’s on me” when the Jets season ended in shame a few weeks ago. Did you hear how Scott treated the New York media on “clean-out” day? A cameraman and TV talking head approached him at his locker and Scott shouted, “Get that f**king thing out of my face!” Boy, what a class act there, huh?
All the Jets have done since the end of the season is blame everyone else or anything else.
All Billy Cundiff has done in the wake of his disappointment is say “It’s on me”.
It’s a wonderful life lesson for all of us to remember. Frankly, it’s a shame our current government leaders both locally and nationally don’t subscribe to the same theory of accepting responsibility and pledging – and then following through – to fix the state of our nation. It’s a shame other players in various sports aren’t willing to adopt that slogan. A little less “Ball So Hard University” and a little more “I’ll take the blame for that” would be a welcome audio clip, at least to this writer, anyway.
The Ravens kicker got up on Monday morning and got the best reward a man could get. His wife and children greeted him and offered him the timless reminder that we, as outsiders, probably don’t digest nearly fast enough when our favorite team loses a big game. They reminded Cundiff that life will go on from here and that what’s really important, and that’s REALLY in all caps, is a healthy family and a roof over their head.
And then he reminded his two little boys that men aren’t judged by their mistakes, per-se, but rather how they react to them and bounce back from them.
I have no idea what’s going to happen if Billy Cundiff ever gets another shot at glory like he had on Sunday night. I’d like to think the football gods would smile down on him.
So, while I don’t know what might happen in the future, I do know this right now.
The two Cundiff boys have themselves one hell of a father.