Billy Cundiff cut by Redskins, sports writer eats crow

October 10, 2012|By Kevin Cowherd | The Baltimore Sun

OK, I was wrong about Billy Cundiff. Really, really wrong.

Sharp readers of this newspaper – do we have any other kind? -- may recall that right before the season started, I wrote that the Ravens had made a mistake cutting Biilly Cundiff and going with rookie Justin Tucker as their kicker.

I wrote that a team with serious designs on a Super Bowl berth needed an experienced kicker who had been through the NFL wars. And I wrote that Cundiff would bounce back from that disastrous 32-yard miss in the AFC title game last January against the New England Patriots and be dependable kicker again.

So I went 0-for-2 there, sports fans.

Tucker has turned out to be just fine for the Ravens so far, with one of the stronger legs in the league. And Cundiff has turned into a basket case, missing four of six field-goal attempts the past two games before being cut Tuesday by the Washington Redskins.

You know how, when an athlete is struggling, people often say “It’s all in his head?”

Well, in Cundiff’s case, it definitely was. Two years ago he was a Pro Bowl kicker. The Ravens rewarded him with a big contract. But he was never the same after that big miss against the Patriots.

He was a stand-up guy all the way in the months after, taking shots from the fans and media and never whining.

This, he knew, was a kicker’s lot in life. You’re only as good as your last kick. And he said all the right things in the offseason about blotting out the memory of that miss and working hard and regaining the  trust of the Ravens’ players and coaches.

I thought the Ravens could trust him again. But John Harbaugh and the Ravens didn’t, and they were right. Cundiff signed with the Redskins right after the Ravens cut him, but he was shaky there from the get-go.

After making just 7 of 12 field goal attempts in five games, coach Mike Shanahan had seen enough. Now Billy Cundiff is looking for a job again.

It’ll be a lot harder to find one this time around. Cundiff is now officially perceived to be damaged goods.

It’s a shame, because he’s truly one of the good guys. And he worked his tail off this season to turn things around.

It just didn’t happen. But that’s life in the NFL.

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