I’m sorry, but I could never be a kicker. The storied Army-Navy football game is coming up on Saturday, and it made me think about the pressure a Cadet or Midshipman kicker must feel when the game is on the line.
And I wouldn’t want to be him.
1993: Down 16-0 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Midshipmen roared back with two touchdowns and a long drive in the waning moments to position Navy for a last second victory. In trotted the Naval Academy’s freshman kicker. I remember watching the game and wondering how he could possibly make that field goal. My OWN kicking leg was numb and I was watching the game on TV.
He missed. Army 16 Navy 14.
I golf, and through painful experience I know that weird things happen when you hit a ball with a sturdy object like a club or foot. Doubly so when the ball isn’t round.
They say winners want the ball when the game is on the line, but I’m pretty sure they were talking about putting the ball somewhere around the hands.
Sure, I could envision being the hero. I could be Frank Schenk, who nailed a 32 yard field goal to win the game with eleven seconds left on the clock in 1989 (Navy 19 Army 17). But I know Frank Schenk, and he is one cool customer. I have blood coursing through my veins, not ice water.
Kickers work through all the two-a-days, hit the weights, sit through hours of meetings and put up with “kicker” jokes for what? Five seconds of terror with the game on the line, with thousands and thousands of people watching, judging and ready to instantly castigate you if you miss.
I want to stay in a happy place. I want to be where there is no pressure to be perfect. Where all you have to do is do your job. If you perform well, everyone thinks you’re a genius. And if you don’t, no one cares because they don’t expect much out of you anyhow.
I was a weather guy in the Navy, and if I were expected to hit the forecast every single day I wouldn’t have lasted a week. It has been said (sometimes to my face) that forecasting is the only job in the military where you only have to be right a little over half the time and everyone thinks you’re doing a good job.
In the world of football, I want a position like that.
I want to be a punter. Punters have it great. Just kick the ball and if it’s a good one, you get a cheer. If not, well then the team shouldn’t have put you in that situation in the first place.
So when Navy plays Army this weekend, who do I think will win? It’ll be a tough, hard-fought game, but Navy will pull it out by a field goal.
That’s my forecast.