CREATED Jul. 27, 2013
GREEN BAY - We’ve all had a bad day at the office. There are days where the boss will ask you to do something you have never seen before. There are those days when the boss will be unhappy and you almost feel it is time to start updating that resume that you have sitting on your desktop.
Now, imagine when you mess up, there are a whole stadium of people booing you off. Imagine when you get home there are websites all filled with how terrible you are and petitions for people looking for you to be released.
This is what happened when Mason Crosby clocked out of his job last season.
Being an NFL kicker is a lonely job. It is also a little like being a comedian.
Once people find out you are a funny man by trade, the first thing they say to you is “say something funny!”.
If the first thing you say isn’t comedy gold, then you aren’t funny at all.
As a kicker, you are supposed to make the kick. In fact, if you do make the kick, people think nothing of it. That’s your job.
If you don’t make the kick, they get irate and write you off. Much like the comedian, you are thrown into the useless pile and have to try extra hard to prove yourself.
Most positions on the field get multiple chances to redeem themselves. Quarterbacks get three chances a down, four if the coaches are really gutsy.
A kicker has one option. Just kick.
A coach can compensate for a poor QB performance by bringing in more run plays, increase the workload of a TE or WR on the line of scrimmage.
A kicker is on his own. There is no safety net. There is no plan B.
For years, Mason Crosby didn’t need a plan B. The Super Bowl winner didn’t need excuses.
In high school, Crosby was named the 3rd best placekicker in the US. He kicked one of the longest field goals in Texas history with a 59 yard field goal. In the same game, he drilled the 3rd longest field goal in the history of the state, ane he also punted a 61 yarder.
He continued his blistering performances into college at Colorado. He smashed most of the placekicking records that stood at CU by the time he left, setting 33 single-game, season and career records at Colorado.
He became CU’s all-time leading scorer with 307 points, made the most field goals (66), most field goal attempts (88), most extra points made, highest field goal percentage and longest field goal made at 60 yards. He also attempted a 63 and 65 yarder in his senior year and came up only 2 yards and 27 inches short.
Crosby was drafted by the Packers in 2007 as a 6th round pick. After a training camp battle with Dave Rayner, Crosby was selected as the Packers kicker, rewarding the Packers for the decision by kicking a 42-yarder to clinch a win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the last two seconds.
He was named the NFC Special Teams player of the week on opening weekend and became the first player in NFL history to kick a 50-yarder and a game winner in the last minute of a game.
In 2011, he had a conversion rate of 85.7%, broke the franchise record for most kicks in consecutive games with 23, drilled a 58-yarder against the Vikings and signed a whopping 5-year deal worth almost $15 million.
Crosby carried this consistency all the way through his career, until his disastrous 2012 season.
He had a terrible year last year. But that is just it, it was one terrible year.
He has had a lot more winning seasons and blistering performances with accolades from high school, through college to the professional arena.
Before we all write him off as a bust and call for Giorgio Tavecchio to take the wheel, let us all pause the witch hunt and appreciate that Mason Crosby is a winner.
A Super Bowl winner. Mike McCarthy hasn’t forgotten about Crosby’s talent. In fact, it seems that only us fans have a short memory along with Crosby himself.
His dip in confidence and jittery performances last year were the signs of a professional athlete who forgot just how good and consistent that he has been.
One more thing to note, Crosby might have had a dismal year in percentage wise stats, but his poor stats partially stem from the fact that the Packers were asking him to kick from longer distances.
He made 19 of 24 on all kicks below 50 yards and just 2 of 9 from above 50.
This season, I think Crosby will be back at the top of the league in kicking percentage. Let’s cheer him on again with the team and remind him how good we know he can be.
Read more from Stephen O'Brien of UK Packers (@packers_uk on Twitter) for which he is a co-founder and editor.