A Day of Football
Posted Jan. 23 at 07:15 AM
Am thinking a lot about heartbreaking losses this morning. My wife didn't see Lee Evans drop the game-winning touchdown yesterday, and when I wanted to show her the clip, she kind of shrugged and said, What does it matter, it's over. (She also didn't care because the Ravens covered, enabling us to split a good chunk of money in our suicide pool.)
What does it matter? Gah! This is a lot of what sports is about, agonizing for days or weeks or years after a tough outcome, going over the minutiae of Evans having the ball knocked out of his hands, Kyle Williams having a punt glance off his knee, Gary Anderson missing a kick, or Calvin Schiraldi not getting that third out. It matters because these guys could have been champions, they climbed the mountain and stumbled just short of the top, and their names will live in infamy because of the one moment when they came up short. It will matter to Evans, and Williams, and Billy Cundiff, possibly forever.
Part of it is just a soft spot I have for losers. Lifelong Red Sox fan (yeah I get the outside world dislikes them now that they're not star-crossed anymore). I think of the Broncos' playoff wins over the Browns and feel for the Browns. I still feel bad for Warren Moon's playoff losses to Elway one year and Frank Reich the next. Basically I want more players and more teams to get that thrill of being in or winning a Super Bowl. Tom Terrific and Eli have their Super Bowl rings. I wanted Ray Rice, Joe Flacco and Frank Gore to get a shot at theirs.
We all have regrets -- things we wish we'd done differently, or things we wish had gone differently. We don't like them in ourselves or our own past, and feel for others who have them too. Or at least I do. So to see Cundiff and Williams and Evans inherit a huge millstone to carry around their neck for the entire offseason and probably more, when it so easily could have been different....it's just kind of a shame.
That's the sad thing; that the higher the drama in a game, and the greater the high for the winners, the more acute the pain is for the losers. Nobody needs to feel particularly bad for the Falcons or Bengals or Broncos, who got smoked in the playoffs; no one player will get blamed for those losses where they simply weren't good enough. It's the ones that really sting that it's hardest to forget. The one where one or two guys could have made a huge difference in a win, and instead they did it in a loss.
The offseason is going to feel like a long one for all of us. It was a crazy NFL season, that started out seeming like it wouldn't even happen, then hurriedly began, and moved along at a whirlwind pace. Now we have labor peace, which is great, and we also should have a fairly quiet February and March. Those months will seem especially long, and slow.
For us, for the Ravens, and for the 49ers.
Posted by PETER DEBIASE | Jan. 23 at 09:53 AM
Andy: Great column. As a big baseball fan, I love the Calvin Schiraldi reference. Which leads me to the terrible trade over the weekend by Cherington. Scutaro is certainly no superstar, but he was one of the few players who gutted in out the whole way and performed at a high level last season. These are the type of guys you need on your team to win championships and to trade him for basically nothing is ridiculous. As far as the football goes, two exciting games. As a fan, that's what you want to see on Championship Sunday. Let's give credit to the two winning teams who did enough to advance. Not ready to make a Super Bowl prediction just yet, but I'm leaning toward the Giants (this season is shaping up to be eerily similar to 2007). I will make this prediction though. If Brady does not play a lot better in two weeks than he did yesterday, the Pats will get it handed to them. Thanks for your advice all season.
Posted by ANDY RICHARDSON | Jan. 23 at 10:26 AM
Peter, thanks for being a loyal reader. I certainly won't take anything away from the Patriots/Giants. Evans' "drop" was at least partially a remarkable defensive play, and Cundiff's kick would only have forced overtime, not won it. San Francisco's offense was no lock to do anything no matter how long overtime had continued. I see no reason why Pats-Giants shouldn't be just as close this time as it was the last time, so I would take the Giants getting (last I saw) 3.5.
Posted by Matt Mumford | Jan. 23 at 11:09 AM
Nice article! You summed up the way I feel as well. How many times do we have to watch the Patriots in the Superbowl? They're a good team with a great coach, but ...
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