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.

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.

 

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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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