The 22 Worst Feelings in the NFL
Many professional football players aren't reduced to tears when something terrible happens during a game, but I'm sure they often feel like bawling after committing crucial mistakes or when they are subject to unfortunate situations.
Like any sport, there are occurrences in the NFL that spark embarrassment and bring forth feelings of sadness or shame.
These moments often cause fans to pull their hair out, chuck the remote into the TV or even initiate self-mutilation. However, the experience is one million times worse for the player or team that is actually in the midst of the action.
I've come up with 22 of the most terrible feelings in the NFL in no specific order. Feel free to comment on how they should be ranked or if I've missed any, for there are many.
Kickoff or Punt Return for a Touchdown
Now I've never met Matt Dodge, the unfortunate Giants punter in this clip, but I'm quite confident he felt like jumping off the Empire State building after getting chewed out by Tom Coughlin for punting to DeSean Jackson.
There's no doubt a walk-off, return touchdown eats away at a team for days, but any time a return man finds the end zone, it kills any momentum and destroys morale.
A special teams unit never wants to witness their kicker or punter pathetically attempting to make a tackle when they are the last man between the returner and the goal line.
Best Case Scenario: Your team is punting the ball away in the final seconds up by three touchdowns. No harm done.
Worst Case Scenario: Take the clip above and put it in the Super Bowl. I can't think of anything more gut-wrenching for the punter or for the entire franchise.
Getting Injured in the Super Bowl or Pro Bowl
I'm not sure which bowl I would rather get hurt playing in. The most important one or the least important?
I suppose there would be nothing worse than making it all the way to the big game and then not being able finish it. Donald Driver and Charles Woodson are two veterans that experienced this feeling last season. At least the Packers went on to win.
Getting injured in the Pro Bowl would feel terrible as well. The game means absolutely nothing and the player's health and perhaps, even their career gets compromised as a result of suiting up for it.
Best Case Scenario: You break a finger nail receiving a snap on a kneel down to seal the Super Bowl victory.
Worst Case Scenario: You are the star quarterback, and you are taken out on the first play of the Super Bowl.
Interception Returned for a Touchdown
A QB's spirits sink as soon as he stands up from a hard hit and realizes he has to make a touchdown-saving tackle. However, watching a poor pass fall into the hands of the defense is just as painful to the eyes especially because there can be no excuses because of contact.
Matt Hasselbeck will never doubt the proverb that says pride comes before the fall. After uttering the now infamous quote, "We want the ball, and we're gonna score" prior to OT in a playoff matchup with the Packers, he proceeded to get picked off by Al Harris who took his pass to the end zone for the win.
I'm certain he still wants that throw back, along with every other QB who experienced the same, but he is probably the only one who wants to take his words back as well.
Best Case Scenario: Your receiver dropped an easy pass, and it fell into the defender's open arms.
Worst Case Scenario: What Mr. Hasselbeck brought upon himself is about as bad as it gets, but Peyton Manning didn't even have it coming in the Super Bowl against the Saints. Instead of leading his team down the field to tie the game, he put them down two scores.
Dropping a Pass
Good players can often overcome these mishaps like T.O. who had many big drops in the 1998 playoffs against the Packers but then caught the game-winning pass from Steve Young.
Jordy Nelson also redeemed his multiple drops in last year's Super Bowl, but Steve Johnson wasn't so lucky in 2010. In his opinion, he was cursed by God.
The lowly Buffalo Bills took the eventual Super Bowl runners-up to OT late in the season, but Johnson inexplicably dropped a sure touchdown.
You can imagine how bad that one felt, and it's obvious that his quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, wasn't too happy either. The worst part of it is the Steelers went on to win.
Some drops are more significant than others, but not a single one doesn't make a receiver look at his hands and ask them what happened. Most times they don't reply and the wide out has to question higher powers.
Best Case Scenario: It's the first play of a game in sub-zero temperatures, and a catch wouldn't have resulted in a gain anyway.
Worst Case Scenario: Dropping a game-winning catch in OT is bad, but pulling those shenanigans in the Super Bowl is simply shameful.
Missing a Wide Open Receiver
Usually receivers aren't too happy if the ball doesn't get to them when they are wide open. Especially if the speedy wide out just burned the secondary and has a clear path to the end zone.
Underthrown. Overthrown. Out of bounds. It doesn't matter how the quarterback missed the target. They all feel equally terrible when an opportunity at six is blown because of a poor pass.
Best Case Scenario: It's 1st-and-goal from the 5, and the you overthrow a wide-open fade route. Your team is also up two scores with two minutes to go.
Worst Case Scenario: You're in the Super Bowl, and your team is stuck with a 4th-and-9 on a potential game-winning drive. You overthrow a streaking receiver with no defensive backs within 10 yards.
Offensive lineman feel worthless enough already because their names are rarely mentioned. When they are recognized for allowing a sack to occur, there is no where to hide their 300-pound frames.
All they can do is help the poor quarterback from the ground, if he is willing that is. No one likes to be pounded into the turf.
Some sacks are the QB's fault, but no matter who's to blame, it is extremely demoralizing for the team when the quarterback is taken down behind the line of scrimmage.
Best Case Scenario: You take a sack instead of forcing the ball downfield at the end of the half, and you're up by two scores.
Worst Case Scenario: You need a touchdown from 10 yards out to force OT in the Super Bowl, but you can't even put up a pass, and the game is over. A sack that becomes a safety isn't cool either.
Being at the Bottom of the Pile
Biting, high-pitched screaming, spitting, cheap shots, vomiting, mom jokes. No one really knows what goes on at the bottom of the pile.
Being the man at the very bottom is never a fun experience, even if you somehow come up with the football. I'm sure if there was football in the Middle Ages, the pile would have been used to get people to talk.
Best Case Scenario: It's a two-man pile, and you secure the ball without any hassle.
Worst Case Scenario: There are 21 over-sized men between you and fresh air. Whatever is in your hand doesn't feel like the pigskin.
Committing a Penalty
I touched on this a bit earlier, but even simple penalties like false starts and offsides can frustrate a team and stall drives.
An offsides call can give the offense a free play, and that can lead to much worse things.
Best Case Scenario: You take a delay of game penalty as you try and wind down the clock.
Worst Case Scenario: A game-winning touchdown called back.
Touchdown Called Back
Teams are devastated when their touchdown celebrations are interrupted by the news that the score has been called back.
Everyone scans the field for signs of yellow on a big play and hopes that the touchdown will not come off the board because of a penalty.
Thoughts of what could of been fill the minds of the victims.
Best Case Scenario: The score was meaningless and wouldn't have happened had the penalty not occured.
Worst Case Scenario:
Fan: YES! My team just won the Super Bowl!!
TV: Holding on the offense. Penalty is accepted. No touchdown. Repeat fourth down.
A Poor Punt
A bad punt almost defeats the purpose of punting in the first place (giving the opposing team poor field position).
Punting the ball a short distance or shanking it out of bounds makes a punter quicken his step as he trots back to the bench.
A bad boot makes the punter feel about as low as his job security.
Best Case Scenario: The return man turns over the ball after a short punt, and the coach's mind is cleared of your blunder.
Worst Case Scenario: Punting the ball 10 yards out of bounds is never good for staying employed.
A Blocked Kick or Punt
A blocked punt is never a good thing, but a blocked field goal instantly takes three points off the board and gives the opponent a great opportunity to grab some easy points.
These occurences often seal victories or provide chances for a comeback.
Best Case Scenario: The kicking team recovers the blocked punt and takes it to the house.
Worst Case Scenario: A blocked game-tying field-goal attempt from the 17-yard line is returned for a touchdown in the final seconds of the Super Bowl.
Missing an Extra Point
Almost everyone assumes a touchdown is a guaranteed seven points and it should be. Extra points are supposed to be automatic, but there are exceptions to the rule.
It's like a breakaway layup or a wide open net or a fastball down the middle. They are expected to be converted into a postive, but if they aren't it can be a big negative.
Failing to kick the ball between the uprights on a extra point attempt is as negative as it gets.
Best Case Scenario: It's not too shameful if you are a rookie defensive lineman who is forced to kick the extra point.
Worst Case Scenario: I can't imagine anyone felt worse than John Carney after he blew the extra point following the incredible last-second touchdown by the Saints.
Getting Hit in the Head
While it may not be too painful because of today's helmet technology, it certainly is embarrassing when a receiver is nailed in the back of the head with the ball or lets a pass slips through his hands and bounce off his facemask.
Taking a snap to the face isn't all that enjoyable either. Just ask Tony Romo.
Helmet to helmet hits are now heavily penalized in the NFL, but they still happen and can cause serious injuries. However, Brian Urlacher didn't mind the noggin shot in this game.
The Packers called tails, but the coin bounced off his head and landed heads up. The Bears got the ball and kicked a field goal for the win.
Best Case Scenario: You're the head coach of the Super Bowl winning team and your head is doused with a cooler full of Gatorade.
Worst Case Scenario: An uncalled facemask results in a defensive game-winning touchdown in the playoffs.
Being Dragged Down in the Backfield
I'm sure it never feels good to be tackled by Clay Matthews, but being brought to the ground behind the line of scrimmage means that there was no gain for the pain.
Marion Barber was extremely unhappy after this play and rightfully so.
Best Case Scenario: You are pulled down by the facemask, and instead of losing yards, you gain 15.
Worst Case Scenario: Your team is up one in the Super Bowl, and you are pinned on your own 2-yard line with three minutes on the clock. The defense takes down the ball carrier for a safety, grabs the lead and gets the ball back.
Being Stuffed on 4th-and-Inches
The coach just made a gutsy call to go for it on fourth down and puts the ball (and his reputation) in your hands.
You need an inch. If you advance the ball the length of your pinky toe, you can secure a new set of downs.
It sounds easy, but when you meet a brick wall of defenders and lose a yard, your feelings sink faster than a pitch delivered by Roy Halladay.
Best Case Scenario: Your team is trying to run the clock out with a double-digit lead.
Worst Case Scenario: The ball was on the goal line, and your team needed a touchdown to tie it.
Dropping an Easy Pick
You made a great play on the ball, had it in your hands but somehow couldn't reel it in for the interception.
It's worse than a wide receiver's drop, and it is a wonderful opportunity missed.
Best Case Scenario: A potential pick bounces off your stone hands, but it is a turnover on downs anyway.
Worst Case Scenario: Letting a potential pick in the Super Bowl slip through your grasp like Lewis Billups is about as bad as it gets.
A Flukey Touchdown
Best Case Scenario: A fluke that results in a touchdown is hard to swallow unless your team is safely in the lead.
Worst Case Scenario: If Stokely's nonsense would have happened in the last seconds of a Super Bowl, I would feel terrible for the team but nowhere near as bad as they'd feel for themselves.
Kicking Team Recovers Onside Kick
I'm not sure if this one's worse if you were expecting the onside kick or not.
Instead of getting the ball, the receiving team is robbed of possession as the oppossing team kicks it to themselves.
Best Case Scenario: You have a three-touchdown lead, the reason that your opponent is attempting an onside kick anyway.
Worst Case Scenario: The onside kick catches you by surprise to open up the second half of the Super Bowl, and you go on to lose the big game. Sorry Colts fans if this sounds painfully familiar.
Missing a Field Goal
Missing a field goal always hurts no matter the situation or the distance. The kicker's main job is to simply put the ball through the uprights. Anything less is failure.
Many people don't even want the position in the game of football and missed field goals only support their opinion. Such mistakes change games, devastate fans and haunt the dreams of kickers for months.
Best Case Scenario: Your team already has the game locked up, and it was a 56-yard attempt.
Worst Case Scenario: Missing a game-winning boot is the pinnacle of field goal flops, but having a miss returned for a touchdown may top even that.
Coughing up the rock is embarassing, especially at the end of a big play. The defense strips you of possession but also rips away your pride.
Watching the ball fall to the turf is like an action hero witnessing the villians kidnap his woman while he's strapped to a chair with duck tape over his mouth.
Best Case Scenario: It's all good if your teammates have your back and corral the ball.
Worst Case Scenario: A rookie rips the ball out of your hands and takes it for six.
Getting Beaten in Coverage
As your ankles break, the wide receiver is suddenly wide open and runs in for a touchdown while you lay watching from the ground.
Being burned for a score feels worse than being burned by the stove.
Best Case Scenario: The receiver pushed off, but there was no call.
Worst Case Scenario: Broken ankles becomes more than a figure of speech.
Losing by a Field Goal in OT
Losing a game in overtime is tough to take. Losing it by a field goal without being able to go on offense is plain awful.
The NFL realized this and tweaked the rules for the playoffs of course, but it should also be done for the regular season.
Best Case Scenario: It's Week 17 and your team has already wrapped up the No. 1 seed.
Worst Case Scenario: It was a do or die game for a playoff berth.