Mason Crosby kicked a walk-off field goal for the Packers on Sunday. It happened right in front of me, as the picture to the right (which I took) will attest.
Crosby jogged onto the field, glanced over at me in the second row, set himself, calmly hit the game-winning field goal and then turned to give me a raucous two handed middle-finger salute.
Of course, it didn’t really happen that way, but symbolically, it might as well have.
Anyone who reads this blog knows or has heard me on CheeseheadRadio should know that I haven’t been the biggest of Crosby fans. For the uninitiated, here’s a brief history of my writings on the subject of Crosby:
August 2, 2009: I call for some training camp competition for Crosby.
March 2010: I railed about Crosby doubling his salary by reaching what must have been some fluff incentives after a bad 2009 season.
March 17, 2011: I did give Crosby a B grade for the 2010 season, mainly on his performance over the Packers’ Super Bowl run.
August 4, 2011: Here I mocked Crosby a bit for being allowed to retake a “game winning” kick in practice with no defense.
August 8, 2011: I still believe I did a very good job debunking some Crosby myths by presenting the facts as they were before this season.
I really have nothing against the guy, but his stats during the first 4 years of his career were no more than average to below-average, as compared to other NFL kickers (And don’t bother with the cold weather excuses – read the myths article).
I just have felt the need to point out the reality of the situation when other fans would blindly state that Crosby was a very good kicker without having any facts to back it up.
But all along, I’ve never disliked the guy. In fact, I’ve heard he’s a really good guy from those who have met him. I just wanted his performance to match his compensation and his de-facto uncontested spot on the team. I’m a Packers fan. I want EVERY packers player to excel, realistic or not.
And then came the 2011 season. A very different Crosby starts out a perfect 16 for 16 on field goals and is regularly booming kickoffs into the end zone. Exploring the reasons for this dramatic turnaround won’t be explored here, as THAT is a whole other article (cough… Slocum stopped his meddling… cough).
If I’m putting on my coaches’ hat, what I would expect from my kicker is an 80% average and the nerves of steel needed to split the uprights when the game can be won. Crosby had never hit the 80% mark in the pros, and hadn’t hit a game-winning kick since the first game of his rookie season, having gone 0-3 since then.
Well, scratch those two off my list. While the season is not yet over, it would take a horrendous collapse for Crosby to finish under 80%.
But more importantly, he won a game with his leg. A big game. An undefeated season preserving, NFC North clinching game. Right in front of me. Right in my face.
And I loved it.
Jersey Al Bracco is the founder and editor of AllGreenBayPackers.com, and the co-founder of Packers Talk Radio Network. He can be heard as one of the Co-Hosts on Cheesehead Radio and is the Green Bay Packers Draft Analyst for Drafttek.com.