Today’s course requires a bit of table-setting, so please bear with me. The medley itself is ST, accompanied by random chance, luck, and superstitions. Our Dude wrote of game day traditions. Mine, once I’d received my game day jersey, was that and my hat while at the games, but at home, I’m clumsy. I’m clumsy, so I only gear up when I feel we need some mojo, y’know? Like the rally cap thing.
So, having written on the O and the D, I wanted to complete the loop, but Special teams are, well, special. The TV crew covers most ST plays almost as an afterthought, and 3, maybe 4 ST players are the most you are really aware of during the game, the kickers, a returner, maybe another guy. What to write about? Then Sunday happened, and I knew. Butker missed – twice.
Football is still a brutally unforgiving game, despite the injury situation’s ongoing improvement, but not just physically. At the NFL level, small things can balloon, today’s G.O.A.T. can be tomorrow’s goat, and even with perfect recovery an injury can sidetrack or derail a career. Nowhere is this more obvious than on the ST unit. The majority of the time that the ST unit’s on the field, half the people are only paying half-attention to it, and the other half aren’t watching at all. The rest of the time, every eye is focused on the screen. And for every shining moment in the spotlight, there are likely to be more moments in the doghouse.
Which brings us back to Buttkicker.com, he of the two missed kicks. Think about those kicks, for a moment. Neither was notably long, not really. He missed both in the same direction, but they were well separated by time. The only other thing they have in common must be Butker, right? It wasn’t a windy day, or any weird weather, or icing the kicker. Obviously, the only thing they have in common is Butker.
What if I told you that’s wrong? What if I told you that two stray gusts of wind threw two completely separate kicks off in the same direction and by much the same amount? What are the odds? And yet that, I am pretty sure, is exactly what happened.
You see, I watched the first miss, and something caught my eye. The orange ribbon on the right-side upright (TV view) had been blowing left, which was why I thought he’d missed – but as the camera panned across, the opposite pole’s ribbon was dangling limply. Since there was no follow-on remark about wind, I presumed that it’d been nothing of note – but I didn’t forget it, either.
Remember my “jersey mojo” thing? Late in the 4th, 4th-and-nine, and things are looking grim. Mrs. BRAG looks over at me and says “Don’t you think it’s time to gear up?”, and gear up I faithfully did – sitting down just in time to see that jaw-dropping play in its entirety. Team Mojo FTW! right? Stayed geared, Butker missed again, and we are still savoring the sweetness of the end, tonight. But that’s just a nice story about a sweet coincidence. Sports superstitions aren’t magic, they don’t bend the fabric of time and space. But many of us have them. Why? Well, they’re fun, of course, and often traditional – but so are fireworks, and few people, even those who like fireworks, get too bent out of shape if they miss out a year. Sports superstitions are taken a mite more seriously.
Remember Butker’s kicks? Well-separated by time and situation? When I was talking this over with Tony, he told me it was funny, a neutral fan who was attending with a relative mentioned to him that he’d felt a gust of wind, right after the snap on the second Butker miss. The second one. Remember what I saw with the ribbon? That was the first one. Those two kicks have evidence to support the probability that two separate, stray, random gusts of air blew two well-spaced kicks in the same direction and by about the same amount. Life’s tough on Special Teams.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m keeping my gear on standby, just in case.