Commentary

Life's harder for today's playoff goats

Originally Published: January 23, 2012
By DJ Gallo | Page 2

Page 2 Goat NFL HangoverAP Images

Old-time athletes love to tell anyone who will listen how easy today's athletes have it. The fame, the contracts, the endorsements.

No disrespect to our elders, but our elders are stupid. Today's athletes have it much tougher than they did. And it's all due to social media and modern technology. Today's athletes risk national humiliation on every play in front of TV audiences that dwarf those the oldsters played before. Are former NFL players like Jackie Smith and Scott Norwood regarded as goats? Sure. But becoming a meme might be worse than being a goat.

The names "Billy Cundiff" and "Kyle Williams" immediately dominated Twitter following their game-losing mistakes as millions of people laughed at their misfortune. The hashtag #BillyCundiffPlaylist became popular, with users submitting songs like Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" ("To the left, to the left") and Whitney Houston's "Didn't we Almost Have it All" as songs Cundiff might listen to on his iPod.

Cundiff's actual Facebook page has doubled in size since kickoff yesterday. Some fans have offered support. Many others have written him things like this: "SHANK you for nothing !!!" and "you @#$%*^ suck you little @#$%^ you should be @#$%^& fired i hope you never played for a other team again ... go oback to @#$%^& high school ..i should @#$%^& smack your @#$%^ ass." That last one was posted a full two hours after the game. Apparently the guy had to first calm down and gather his thoughts.

The kicker's Wikipedia page was repeatedly edited, once having every instance of his name replaced with "Ray Finkle." Parody videos were produced. Fake Cundiff Twitter accounts popped up -- from @NotBillyCundiff to @BaltsRayFinkle -- and Williams was told by a fan through his official Twitter page @KyleWilliams_10 that he and his "wife, kids and family" deserve to die.

Much of the fan reaction is all in good fun, some -- like the messages to Williams -- are terrifying and deranged. Then there is the bizarre. (Really, who does own a Cundiff jersey?)

So next time you hear a former NFL player complaining about the perks of playing in the modern era, I encourage you to go edit his Wikipedia page and write that he is delusional. It won't get removed.


Quote of the Week

"I sucked bad today."

-- Tom Brady, following New England's narrow escape against the Ravens.

Brady is right. He was outplayed by Joe Flacco and -- his record-setting performance in the divisional round against the Broncos obviously aside -- the Patriots star has had several bad games in the playoffs since New England's last title in 2004. Maybe it's time for Bill Belichick to be bold and make a change at quarterback for the Super Bowl. There's a Boston native named Mark Wahlberg who could probably step in and defeat the Giants with ease. That guy can do anything.


Stat of the Week

Minus-6

The Giants are the first team in NFL history to reach the Super Bowl despite having a negative point differential in the regular season. At plus-22, the 2007 Giants had the fifth-worst point differential all time for a Super Bowl team. It's time for us to consider that Eli Manning, son of college football royalty, is a BCS operative implanted in the pros to make the NFL season look pointless while also undermining playoff formats. If so, he's doing a great job.


Pictures of the Week

"Heh-heh. The mustache is a perfect distraction, giving me cover to do whatever I want with my hands."

"Mmm. Delicious stomach bile."

"Please don't hit my face, please don't hit my face, please don't hit my face."

"I bet Lee Evans feels like a total goat right now."

"You should probably talk to Cundiff and help him get through this. You know what it's like to single-handedly lose a playoff game."

"Oh, yeah. That's some nice Belichick hand musk."

"We need to find a friend who has a stump finger to play Ronnie Lott."

"I enjoy crafting!"

"Yeah, remember how you played last week? I'd love to see that again."

"Why is no one hugging me? I held the field goal that sent us to the Super Bowl!"

"Thank you for all of your creation, all the fish in the sea, the birds in the air and the animals on the land. We especially thank you for creating goats."


News Conference Questions Someone Should Have Asked

Bill Belichick: "Does it hurt when you smile?"

John Harbaugh: "Does it make you feel better after a difficult loss to remember that even though you didn't win a Super Bowl or even reach the Super Bowl, you still got several Gatorade showers this year?"

Jim Harbaugh: "Are Kyle Williams' hands even tinier than Alex Smith's hands?"

Tom Coughlin: "How does it feel to be the most accomplished coach in the NFL among coaches who seem to always be on the verge of getting fired?"


5 Things I Thought You'd Think I Might Think

1. Note to "American Idol" contestants: Sing the "Star Spangled Banner" during your audition. There's no way Steven Tyler can criticize you.

2. Bernard Pollard has played six seasons in the NFL for three different teams. Over his career he has taken out a knee on both Tom Brady and Wes Welker and on Sunday nearly broke Rob Gronkowski's ankle. It's like he doesn't realize that Bill Belichick is just standing there on the sidelines, completely unprotected.

3. It would be hard to be Billy Cundiff in any NFL city right now. But he has to be wishing he played in any of the other 31 NFL cities not often picked as a backdrop for violent crime shows. Terrifying. Although New York has had a ton of crime shows. And Boston seems to be the location of every crime movie now. And San Francisco gave us "Bullitt" and Alcatraz. So I guess I'll just go back to my original statement: It would be hard to be Billy Cundiff in any NFL city right now.

4. Cundiff wears jersey No. 7 for the Ravens. That's the same number that Kyle Boller wore. The Ravens could become the first franchise to retire a number just so it can no longer hurt them.

5. The Giants and 49ers played nearly 68 minutes of football on Sunday, but there's no reason any of the players should have gotten tired. Between halftime, timeouts, reviews, media timeouts and regular stoppages in play, there is a lot of downtime in football. And Ed Hochuli kept the players extra fresh with some impressively long-winded penalty explanations. I hope Hochuli is assigned to the Super Bowl so he can wow the whole world with his wordiness. I hear he's been working on his longest call yet:

"This is the holding call that doesn't end,
Yes, it goes on and on my friend,
Some people started listening not knowing what it was
And they'll continue listening forever just because.
This is the holding call that doesn't end,
Yes, it goes on and on my friend,
Some people started listening not knowing what it was
And they'll continue listening forever just because …"

DJ Gallo is the founder of SportsPickle.com. He has written a book and written for Comedy Central, The Onion and ESPN The Magazine. He co-hosts the Page 2 Podcast and has appeared on ESPNews. You can follow him on Twitter at @DJGalloESPN.

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