We can all join together in a collective sigh of relief.
Kicker Shank..er.. Shayne Graham mercifully signed with Baltimore Friday. This, apparently despite the inexplicable urging of special teams coach Darrin Simmons to come back for an 8th season in stripes. What?
I shudder at the thought.
To be fair, Graham didn’t always stink up the joint. He did provide some basic consistency at the position after the debacle that was the Neil Rackers experiment. During his early years with the team, he could be counted on to make the 35 yarders regularly. Watching the Bengals line up for a 3 pointer didn’t cause me to break out in cold sweats and heart palpitations like I got when Rackers lined up for an extra point.
But as the years went by, we learned that while generally consistent, Graham was no clutch player. When the game was on the line; if we needed it or were riding on it, more often than not he turned into Scott Norwood.
As far as I’m concerned, he was single-handedly responsible for keeping the Bengals out of the playoffs in 2006, when he missed a down the middle, makable field goal at the end of regulation in week 17 against Pittsburgh.
Then there’s the two most recent misses we all can remember. Vividly. Botched 35 and 28 yard attempts in the playoffs in January sealed our doom in a 24-14 loss to the Jets.
That was inexcusable and embarrassing.
I’m sure some will attempt to remind me that Graham kicked several game winners, including one against Cleveland in OT in 2010.
I’ll remind them that making game winners IS HIS JOB. As for Cleveland, some insist he missed it.
Others will tell me that he had trouble with this long snapper all year. I’ll tell them I don’t care–he makes millions of dollars to do one thing.
Then there’s the argument that kickers have it harder than most; that the pressure can be incredible, and like a golfer they can simply lose their confidence and their swing.
I’d argue that the quarterback has the same amount of pressure on him and for several more snaps per game. I’d point out that it takes the blood, sweat and effort of the other 52 guys on game day to get the kicker in the position to provide the difference with one swing of his leg. How dare him to be so self-absorbed as to bemoan his lot and beckon compassion?
At any rate, as you can tell I’m glad he’s gone. And I’m glad he’s with a division rival. If he has the chops to beat out Billy Cundiff for the job in Baltimore (a big “if”) he’ll have the chance to shank another one in Paul Brown Stadium.
Only this time we’ll cheer when the expected occurs.
So long, Moonlight.