Regarding the headline, you might be thinking, "wait, some kickers have great careers, or even modest or forgettable ones, and also they make a ton of money." You're not wrong, of course—the average starting placekicker makes about $4.2 million every year, and the overwhelming majority of them are proven studs like Adam Vinatieri or people you've never heard of. That's all well and good. But there's a downside, and the downside is insanely horrible. The downside is that you become Scott Norwood, or you become Bears kicker Cody Parkey, and you spend the rest of your life trying to come to terms with the fact that you'll forever be identified with one brief moment of failure in an otherwise successful lifetime.
You could be forever known for this:
One inch to the right, and it might bounce through. Instead, it hit both bars—both $*&$%#*ing bars!—and the Bears are out of the playoffs, and Cody Parkey is infamous. Watch the poor guy have to explain himself:
Now, in this situation, Parkey might be the beneficiary of a restorative miracle: It looks like, quite possibly, the ball was tipped. Which changes everything, and exonerates him from a lifetime of regret—nobody really blames a kicker for having a kick blocked, and that's essentially what this is. But it doesn't change my main point: You have to be insane to take a job that could result in this kind of national infamy because of a missed kick. After Norwood's missed kick that gave the Giants their 1991 Super Bowl, I remember hearing the same joke over and over: Norwood tried to commit suicide, but he was wide right. Imagine living that life. Imagine saying this 25 years later:
“When I put myself in that moment, it’s still very fresh, very real,” Norwood said Wednesday night at a bar near his home in Virginia. “I get emotional. It’s like when I think about my parents and when they died. People always say time will take care of that. I don’t think it really does."
Here's the understatement of the decade: It's not worth it. I hereby declare that the minute my children express any interest in becoming an NFL kicker, I will shoot down their dreams without remorse. You should do the same.
Best Mascot Devastation Flop of the Millennium: Staley Da Bear
Staley is right under the goal posts:
A closer look:
The slow sideways collapse is just perfect. Kudos, Staley. You seized your moment, even if it wasn't the moment you wanted.
Shocker of the Week: Lonzo Ball and His Lack of Passion
I definitely didn't see this coming from the elder child of basketball's most dysfunctional, narcissistic family. From Lakers coach Luke Walton:
"They're trying, but they're young," Walton said of Ball and Ingram, both just 21 years old. "At some point, we need more passion. We need more fight. And that's not scoring more. That's more diving for loose balls, communicating loudly, grabbing [rebounds]."
"I talk about it with them all the time," Walton said when asked if he's been able to connect with the former No. 2 picks when they are disengaged. "There's no secret to it. As far as finding that way, I can find it with a lot of people. I don't have the exact answer on those ones yet."
I watched Brandon Ingram play at Duke, and as much ability as he has, I could have told you long before the NBA that he was an emotional dud. But I can see it being a tough call. Lonzo Ball, though? There was no way this guy didn't have character issues considering the egotistical insanity of his old man and the weird odysseys undertaken by his brothers. He's quieter than his dad, and he's a great talent, but there's no way on earth he's not completely screwed up in that "I'm a ticking time bomb because of my family" way. I still say it was idiotic for the Lakers to draft him so high.
Your Three-Point Montage Fix of the Week: Warriors-Kings
Threes are good, better than dunks, and these teams just set the NBA record for most combined threes in a game. Here's all 41:
The Thing We Need More Of...Of the Week: Winner-Take-All Points in Tennis
First things first: Tennis has a unique and, in my opinion, wonderful scoring system whose origins we can only guess at, but which may involve a sun dial. Some people would rather see the sport change to cumulative scoring (along the lines "first person to 100 points wins"), but the beauty of the current format is that drama is built in to every set, every game, every point, and the importance of each is ratcheted to the highest level even in the midst of a long match. Central to this system is "win by two." You have to win each set by two games, each game by two points, and even in tiebreakers, which are the one exception to the set rule, you have to win by two points. The reason behind this is that it mitigates the enormous advantage a server has on any individual point.
In other words, there is never a situation where both players or both doubles teams stand a point away from a match win at the same time. It's impossible...unless you're playing in the Hopman Cup, an eccentric team event held in Australia each January which currently uses a Fast Fours format. Without going into the nitty-gritty, suffice it to say there is a possibility in this format that two teams could be tied at four points apiece in a final set tiebreaker, and the winner of that subsequent point would win the whole kit and caboodle.
It's rare, but this year, in the championship mixed doubles match between Switzerland and Germany, it happened. Watch:
How awesome is that?? Look how much Federer cares! Far be it from me to call for a wholesale change to tennis, but also...we need more double championship points. They're incredible, and the only thing that could have made this better was Staley Da Bear wrapped in a German flag doing his devastation fall.