J-E-T-S fans green with anger after tonight’s overtime loss to the Steelers ought to direct their rage not at kicker Doug Brien, who botched two fourth-quarter field goals that might have sealed a win in regulation, but at The New York Times.
That’s right, The Times, which this week did to Brien about the worst thing a paper can do to an otherwise obscure athlete (far worse than the tired NFL tactic of calling a last-minute time-out to “ice” an opposing kicker): They profiled him.
On January 13, The Times offered “Thinking Man’s Kicker Tries Not To,” which detailed Brien’s method of clearing his mind before big kicks:
He practices it and studies it, reading philosophy and martial arts books about it. Because, he says, the less a kicker thinks about his technique or the ramifications of a kick, the better chance he has of making it. His self-education has worked. This season, his field-goal percentage is 82.8; over his career, it is 81.1.
Alas, Brien is not the first player foiled by The Times. Remember Trey Junkin, the journeyman long-snapper who was brought in only days before the Giants January 5, 2003 playoff disaster against San Fran? His two bad snaps were the low-lights of a 24-point collapse that destroyed a Giants season and marked the beginning of the end for both coach Jim Fassel and quarterback Kerry Collins.
Three days before the big game, The Times profiled Junkin in “Long Snapper Long On Years To Aid Giants”:
Junkin … snaps on an oral signal, and (punter and field goal holder Matt) Allen wondered aloud how the change might affect the timing of (kicker Matt) Bryant, who also keys on Allen’s hand sign for the snap. And if the crowd noise is loud and Junkin “doesn’t hear me, we’re stuck,” Allen said. “But he’s been in the league 19 years, and obviously, he’s a great snapper,” Allen said. “It really doesn’t matter.”
Oh, but it did! This Pats fan is hoping that tomorrow’s Times features a profile of the Colts water-boy.