“A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.” – John Burroughs
The 1998 Minnesota Vikings rank with the great NFL teams of the last couple decades. They were huge favorites to go to the Super Bowl and in all likelihood would have if Gary Anderson, their prolific kicker who hadn’t missed a field goal all season, hadn’t pulled a late attempt to put the Vikings comfortably ahead of the Atlanta Falcons. When the Falcons tied the game in regulation, then won in overtime, the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately fans asked for Anderson’s head on a platter. Gary Anderson is one of the great kickers of all time, and a good guy to boot (pun intended), yet many purple rubes unfairly crucified him that disappointing January evening.
Screenwriters are the placekickers of Hollywood – taken for granted when things go well, chastised when they don’t. That is, if they are recognized at all. Quick, name ten current NFL placekickers and the teams for which they play. Even the most astute fantasy footballer may struggle to produce such a list. Ten quarterbacks and their teams? Easy. Quarterbacks are the movie stars. Maybe running backs and wide receivers are the directors. And the insidious, conceited owners sitting in their private suites above the fifty yard line are the producers.
So what does it say about me that I want to be all of them? Is it because I want to reduce the possible scapegoats? After all, if I’m accountable for everything, there’s nary another to blame. Success or failure would rest solely on my own shoulders.
Or maybe this whole analogy, loose and unrefined, is just a side effect of having football on my brain right now. Here’s to hoping the 2009 Vikings are not the 1998 Vikings.