TIM WILDMON: Luck’s team spirit reveals more of his greatness

By Tim Wildmon

“Stanford’s Jordan Williamson slouched in the chair at his locker. His shoulder pads, covered by his No. 19 jersey, tossed at his feet. He cried like a baby, which as a 19-year-old freshman kicker is exactly what he is.”
Marcus Thompson II, San Jose Mercury News
The Williamson mentioned above is the field goal kicker for Stanford University who missed two kicks that cost his school the Fiesta Bowl.
I have enjoyed sports my entire life. In terms of team sports, I pretty much like football, baseball and basketball equally. I love the bowl season, watch as many of the games as I can. What attracts me to sports is what attracts many Americans to sports – the drama, the excitement, the emotion and the display of athleticism that 99.9 percent of us could only dream of exhibiting. The ability of the field goal kickers to boot a ball through uprights – often underappreciated by the average fan because they make it look so easy – is something to be admired. But the saddest sight to me in all of sports is when a field goal kicker misses at the end of the game. If watching on television, I almost have to turn away.
All the while the lonely kicker tries to deal with losing the game, other fans cheer in loud celebration because of his failure. You let your team and fans down, you have to walk back to the sidelines and face your coaches and teammates, and all the while the opposing players are jumping around elated. Something just doesn’t seem right about that.
Here you have a game slugged out on the gridiron for 60 minutes by the bigger guys and then it all comes down to the smallest guy on the sideline, trotting out with one chance to see if he will be the hero or the goat. There is no in between.
Williamson, who missed three kicks in the Fiesta Bowl loss to Oklahoma State, only missed three field goals all season long. He is a good kicker.
Quite honestly, it was clear the pressure got to him. Again, that is one of the elements that we love about sports – pressure. We want to see how individuals, how teams, how coaches, hold up under pressure. And experience teaches one how to deal with pressure. This 19-year-old kid has the talent or he would not be kicking field goals for a major university. But he did not have the experience or seasoning to handle the pressure. So he missed kicks I would be willing to say he would make if he were a junior or senior.
I was reading a story about this in the Daily Journal on Wednesday and after seeing the words of Stanford All-American quarterback Andrew Luck when asked about his teammate’s failed kicks. I am thinking about buying an Andrew Luck jersey online.
“In the end, we lost the game and I’m as much to blame as anyone,” said Luck.
Luck was near perfect in the game. He completed 27 of 31 passes. He could not have done any more to help his team win. He could have just as easily said: “I throw passes, I don’t kick field goals. I did all I could. Go talk to Williamson about the kicks.”
Instead, Luck had empathy for his young teammate and protecting him as much as he could; deflecting blame away from the kid was more important to him than trying to make himself look good in defeat. He didn’t have to do that. Now I’m looking forward to watching Andrew Luck have many successful years in the NFL.
What a classy guy.
Community columnist Tim Wildmon is a Lee County resident. He is president of the American Family Association, but the column represents his personal opinion unless otherwise noted. Contact him at twildmon@afa.net.