By Bill Foley
Cody Parkey missed a 43-yard field goal Sunday, and the Chicago Bears fell 16-15 in a playoff game against the defending Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles.
My weekend was shot, and I was irate.
I was not alone. The kicker received death threats for missing the kick, and he will surely get the Steve Bartman treatment in the Windy City for missing the biggest kick of his life.
Bartman, remember, was the guy who made a fatal mistake of trying to catch a foul ball that was hit right too him during Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series. Cubs fans ruined that guy’s life because they thought he cost them a World Series title.
Cubs fans are not that bright.
Bears fans aren’t that bright either, so it must be something in the wind. A large portion of Bears fans are still mad the Bears traded up one spot to draft Mitch Trubisky with the second pick of the 2017 draft. This is after the second-year quarterback passed for more than 300 yards and put the Bears in position to beat the defending champions in the playoffs.
I’d like to think I am one of the smartest Bears fans, even though that is akin to claiming to be one of the tallest members of the Lollipop Guild, and I took the loss very badly. I screamed some pretty nasty things at the television, mostly aimed at Parkey.
Then, I went to the Knights of Columbus and ran on the treadmill until I the murderous rage went away. It took a full hour and a little more than seven miles.
As I stepped off the treadmill, I looked up and saw SportsCenter show the replay of Parkey’s “double doink” that ruined a potential Super Bowl season for the Beloved. This time, though, it made me more sad than mad.
For as long as I live, I will never forgive that kicker for missing that kick, which apparently was helped off line by an alleged nick of a defensive lineman finger.
The reason I will not forgive Parky is simple. There is nothing just to forgive. Parkey tried his best and failed.
I went home from the KC Sunday night, and I grabbed one of my favorite books.
About 25 years ago I picked up a book by the great sportswriter Thomas Boswell at a store in the Butte Plaza Mall. The collection of columns by The Washington Post writer was marked down to $4. Other than the $2 I paid for Jim McMahon’s rookie card, it is probably the best deal I ever came across.
Toward the end this book, on page 383 to be exact, is a column titled “Nothing to forgive.” (There is a longer title on the online version of that column that you can read here.)
The column is about Donnie Moore, the California Angels pitcher who gave up a home run to Boston’s Dave Henderson in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series. Moore and the Angels were a strike away from the World Series when Henderson played spoiler.
After agonizing over that home run for a few years, Moore shot his wife and then committed suicide. Without question, the home run and the ribbing he took for it played a role in his attempted murder and suicide.
In that column, Boswell explained why we don’t have to forgive athletes like Moore for letting our teams down when it mattered most.
Here’s a passage from that column:
“You, and countless others who get branded as “goats” in sports, didn’t do anything wrong. We know it, though we almost never say it. Just once, let’s put it in words: The reason we don’t forgive you is because there’s nothing to forgive in the first place. You tried your best and failed. In games, there’s a law that says somebody has to lose.
“Many of us wish that, just once, we could be in your shoes and have a chance to fail so grandly. Although, if we really had to live the experience and its aftermath, which sometimes lasts a lifetime, maybe we would not.”
I’ve read several of the columns in that book dozens, maybe hundreds of times. I’ve read the Moore column more than the others, and I keep the book close by because sometimes I need to re-read that column to remind myself to put sports in perspective.
Cody Parkey missed a kick. It was a bad miss that will sting Bears fans for a long, long time.
But there is nobody in the world who wanted that kick to doink off the left upright and bounce over the crossbar for a Bears win than Parkey. Nobody was hurt more by the miss than Parkey, so who are we to forgive his miss?
So Bears fans, before you go and send more threats to the kicker and his family, maybe check out the words by Mr. Boswell. Maybe also think of Donnie Moore.
Speaking of misses, I had a miserable Wildcard weekend for more reasons than a missed field goal. I went 1-3 straight up and against the spread. Not even Cody Parkey could have saved me against the spread, since I picked the Bears to cover the six points.
I should have known better than bet against a guy named Foles. For that, I will never forgive myself.
Following are my divisional round picks. The lines are from ESPN, the double doink of sports networks.
Saturday, 2:35 p.m. (NBC)
Indianapolis (plus 5.5) at Kansas City
The Colts are a dangerous team. Andrew Luck is on a role, and that defense is salty.
Andy Reid, though, has Wonder Boy Patrick Mahomes on his side. That will be enough.
Chefs by 7
Saturday, 6:15 p.m. (FOX)
Dallas (plus 7) at Los Angeles
The Cowboys play good at home. Since Dallas fans will probably fill up 80 percent of the Los Angeles Coliseum, this might as well be a Cowboys home game.
So, that point spread is just too big.
Rams by just 3
Sunday, 11:05 a.m. (CBS)
Los Angeles Chargers (plus 4) at New England
How can you bet against the Hoodie when he’s had two weeks to prepare for a January home game against a team from Southern California?
You just can’t.
Patriots by 6
Sunday, 2:40 p.m. (FOX)
Philadelphia (plus 8) at New Orleans
Last week I fell victim to one of the classic blunders — the most famous of which is “never get involved in a land war in Asia.” But only slightly less will-known is this: “Never bet against a Foles when death is on the line.”
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha …
Eagles by a doink