A single, solitary job. That's all you had to do.
We needed one thing from you, and it was for you to do that lonely, only thing you were supposed to do. And somehow—against all odds—you went out there and managed to not only mess it up, but do the opposite.
Screw-ups are a part of life, and as such, occur constantly in sports. Athletes can't nail every landing, catch every ball and knock in 100 percent of their field-goal attempts.
That being said, there are times when athletic blunders are so easily avoidable and pointless that they break through the barrier of dumb, human error and soar to savant-like heights of utter failure.
The following is a selection of athletes who had one job to perform and still weren't able to get it done, along with my difficulty level index comparing their simple jobs to everyday tasks us mere civilians face.
The Job: Holding the football in an upright position.
Difficulty Level: Pizza cutting.
Pizza cutting can be a difficult task, if you're new to it. Pepperonis will be smeared, cheese will be dragged into sad piles. It's an earned skill set, to say the least.
Metaphorically speaking, Tony Romo was not new to cutting pizza when he botched this held kick. He was practically a master doughsman at this point, considering his job prior to becoming the Cowboys starting quarterback was the holder for field goals.*
Nevertheless, the ball slipped through Romo's fingers and with it, the Cowboys' chances at Super Bowl XLI.
*Doughsman is an old Italian word I made up for the guys who toss doughy disks in the windows of family-owned pizzerias.
The Job: Stay sober enough to sit down.
Difficulty Level: De-friending people from high school who are now DJs.
As someone who has spent their fair share of Sunday mornings hydrating and apologizing, I will say this: Getting too drunk to sit down is an almost superhuman feat.
Somehow, some way, the Russian Junior national team managed it, however.
The team had won the World Junior Hockey nationals in 2011 and the players proceeded to drink themselves into oblivion before their long, international flight back home—a flight which they were deemed too drunk to partake in.
The team showed up to the Buffalo Niagara airport loaded to the gizzard, and wasn't allowed to board its Delta flight. It had one job at this point in time, and that was to maintain enough composure to sit down in public. It failed.
The Job: Catch/hold onto punted footballs.
Difficulty Level: Flipping an omelet.
Punt returning is not an easy job. Men bent on destroying your life are running at you full speed as you attempt to track a brown ball through the night sky.
That being said, Kyle Williams managed the singularly painful feat of mucking it up twice in one game.
The second-year wideout/special teams man received the chance of a lifetime during the 2012 NFC Championship Game when his number was called to replace injured veteran returner Ted Ginn Jr. Williams' big opportunity, however, would turn out to be the deciding factor against the 49ers.
Williams turned the ball over twice near the end of the game, muffing a punt in the fourth quarter and fumbling another in overtime. The fumble cost the 49ers a chance at the Super Bowl, as the Giants took the ball down the field for a game-winning field goal.
Head to the 11:15 mark for the shot.
The Job: Not fouling Jason Williams.
Difficulty Level: Writing off people who start sentences with "So my Kickstarter..."
Dane Fife's only responsibility during the final seconds of the 2002 NCAA tournament regional semifinals was NOT TOUCHING ANYONE who shot the ball.
The Hoosiers were up four with seconds remaining on the clock. Duke's only chance at tying the game would have to be a miraculous and-1 three-pointer.
What does Fife do? Foul Jay Williams on a miraculous and-1 three-pointer. Fortunately for the Hoosiers, Williams choked on the free throw and they held on to win the game.
The Job: Kick the ball.
Difficulty Level: Crying at the end of Old Yeller.
Union Comercio goalkeeper Juan Flores was taking his sweet time with the ball.
He figured he had time to dribble to the back office, send out some faxes and maybe—MAYBE—he'd clear the ball before the end of the business hours. That's if he had time, mind you. He can't just go hopping to every time a ball rolls into his box. He's not your servant, soccer.
Goalkeeping with the nonchalance of a Google employee in a T-shirt has its cost, however, and Flores paid the price—an embarrassing, hilarious price.
The Job: Kick the ball anywhere DeSean Jackson isn't.
Difficulty Level: Not donating to Wikipedia.
Matt Dodge could've kicked it anywhere—ANYWHERE—but he punted the ball to DeSean Jackson.
The punt landed in the hands of one of the most dangerous returners in the NFL, and with zero time on the clock, Jackson returned it to the house and single-handedly dashed the Giants' dreams.
As you can see, Tom Coughlin had a discussion with his punter after the play. I'm sure it was congenial.
The Job: Retain possession.
Difficulty Level: Watching just ONE MORE episode of Parks and Recreation.
Moving a ball past midcourt can be difficult, but remembering that you have zero timeouts left at the end of the game should be readily available knowledge to players.
Chris Webber lacked this information, however, and bricked the bed in fantastic form by calling for a TO his team didn't have. The result was a technical foul, and a lost NCAA title opportunity for Michigan.
The Job: Not throw the ball way.
Difficulty Level: Enjoying an Edible Arrangement.
ONE JOB, DeSean. ONE.
The Job: Sign the right score card.
Difficulty Level: Canceling that "let's turn this life around" 6 a.m. jog you thought was a good idea.
Argentine golfer Roberto De Vicenzo lost the 1968 Masters tournament after signing a scorecard with the wrong stroke count.
De Vicenzo had been playing beautifully, dropping seven strokes in the final round to push the tournament into an 18-hole playoff with Bob Goalby.
The playoff was canceled, however, when officials found that De Vicenzo had signed the scorecard of his opponent, Aaron Murphy. Murphy had miscounted De Vicenzo's stroke count on the 17th hole, putting down a four when his opponent shot a three.
Having authorized the card with the extra stroke, De Vicenzo was a stroke behind the leader and Goalby was awarded the win.
The Job: Cross the plane with the ball.
Difficulty Level: Frosting a Toaster Strudel.
Super Bowl XXVII was a bloodbath in favor of the Cowboys, but one boneheaded play has followed Leon Lett like a ghost.
The play in question occurred after Lett recovered a fumble near the Cowboys 40-yard line and figured he had a big enough head start to high-step his way into the end zone. Unfortunately for him, Buffalo wideout Don Beebe never gave up on the play and managed to smack the ball loose before it crossed the plane.
The result was a touchback and a fresh set of downs for the Bills, who took this moment home as the only moral victory to be had in the contest.
The Job: Stay upright.
Difficulty Level: Switching radio stations when Pitbull comes on.
Showboating doesn't attract much positive energy from the universe, but rarely does it lay down the karmic sledgehammer as quickly as it did with Lindsey Jacobellis.
Jacobellis had a comfortable lead going into the final stretch of the snowboard cross course at the 2006 Winter Olympics, and decided to get fancy on penultimate jump. The failed method grab took the rookie snowboarder down, costing her first place and a gold medal.
The Job: Kick 32-yard field goal.
Difficulty Level: Pretending to listen to people when they talk about their jobs.
Billy Cundiff has my sympathy, but the truth is the truth: The Pro Bowl kicker blew a 32-yard field goal and potentially cost the Ravens a shot at the Super Bowl in 2012.
Cundiff had been nine for nine on attempts within the 20-yard line for the year, a fact which only twisted the blade for Ravens fans.
The Job: Stop pucks.
Difficulty Level: Complaining about how early the sun sets now.
Florida Panthers fans were treated to one of the most puzzling goals of all time when keeper Tomas Vokoun allowed a soft shot from center ice into the back of the net.
To be fair, the puck took a queer bounce as it entered the crease. However, when you're a paid professional like Vokoun, these kind of mistakes burn the pride like acid.
The Job: Stay off the field.
Difficulty Level: Eating Pizza Rolls.
The Stanford marching band charged its way into football lore forever after flooding the field during a live-ball situation against UCLA in 1982.
Nerds were trampled, a touchdown was scored and complete chaos reigned supreme. And thus "The Play" was born. We shall never see another moment like it in modern sport.
The Job: Make the extra point.
Difficulty Level: Peeing in the hot tub.
It's so easy to get away with—extra points, that is.
It's the shortest kick in the game being attempted by a person who's paid to do nothing but practice this one thing all practice, every practice.
That being said, extra points aren't necessarily automatic—something the Saints found out when kicker John Carney biffed an extra point. Fittingly enough, the letdown came after one of the most thrilling, last-second touchdowns in Saints franchise history—because New Orleans can never just have nice things.
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