It’s quite exciting when an NFL placekicker kicks the game winning field goal, particularly if it’s for your team. But when the kick goes the opposite way, literally, everyone always seems to want to blame one person. Probably rightfully so but when it does come down to the final seconds of the game, the kicker lines up behind ten blockers and the ball does not make it through the uprights, one name comes almost immediately to mind. Kickers aren’t the most memorable guys on the field. They don’t throw for 400 yards or make spectacular runs from scrimmage. They can barely make a tackle. Often known as the most non-athletic on the team, their job really just has them limited to just one thing. But as our American culture and our pop culture increasing become more and more linked, the lines of fantasy and reality become blurred, and when the most unrecognizable person on a football team becomes the goat at the end of the game, we’re forced to think of one person. Is Ray Finkle really the most well-known kicker of all-time?
We all know the story of Ray Finkle (yes, I am talking about that Ray Finkle). The fictional kicker of the Miami Dolphins from the movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, a quite popular movie of the 1990s starring comedian Jim Carey. Finkle missed a field goal in the Super Bowl which lost the game for his team. Ray Finkle was essentially the antagonist of the story, where after being vilified for years he decided to take the identity of a she and orchestrate a kidnapping of the subject of his/her anger and the alleged reasoning behind the missed field goal. The movie has left us with a couple of terms that we associate with real-life football such as “laces out” and “wide right”. Both were really harped on by Ray Finkle, or his alter-ego, Lt. Einhorn. And it being the missed field goal that was the focal point of the movie, we now almost instantly associate any kicker missing a field goal with one of those two terms or Ray Finkle himself.
This past weekend we had two high-profile NFL football games end with the losing team missing a field goal in the final seconds of play. It’s unfortunate for the teams’ kicker that the game came down to solely his responsibility on whether or not they would win or lose the game, but many games often rely on the kicker to seal the deal. Garrett Hartley and Lawrence Tynes both have experienced great highs in their careers. Both have been to and won a Super Bowl, and were quite instrumental in their team’s success in those years, but on Sunday neither were able to connect for the win. Now some of us would have to think real hard to figure out what team either of them plays for, but it’s not hard to figure out who’s famous for a missed field goal.
Not for nothin’ but we all (some of us) know the name of the kicker on our favorite football team, but you’d be hard pressed to think of a kicker on another team. At the same time, if you’re a football fan, or a fan of pop culture, you’ve probably seen the Ace Ventura movie and know the name of Ray Finkle. An infamous name in a famous movie. So if you can’t think of the name of your kicker, or any kicker for that matter, why not place the blame of a missed field goal on the name that has been taking the blame for years. Oddly enough, if Finkle is not the most well-known placekicker in history, then he has to be the reason why at least half the football watching world knows that laces matter when kicking field goals.