The NY Giants are going to Glendale for Super Bowl 42 after defeating the Packers, in a game which reminds us that redemption is a huge part of sports. And if you follow the NFL, the topic du jour is Lawrence Tynes and his field goal.
Third time luck as Lawrence Tynes, the NY Giants kicker booted the ball 47 yards through the uprights to lead his team into the Superbowl. It was the longest field goal in Lambeau Field history and when it went through, the stadium fell pin drop silent. The Giants were in. Brett Favre and the Packers, overwhelming favourites to win the NFC title, were stunned. It was a game full of drama and lead changes. Tynes had shanked his field goal attempts on his two previous occasions. Had Tynes second kick gone through, the Giants would have been through to the Super Bowl with seconds left in regulation. It was a painful miss as it gave the Packers a new lease of life and with Favre as a QB well known for pulling of miracle wins, it could also have been the end of the road for the Giants. Yet another hard luck story for long suffering Giant fans. But Corey Webster's interception ended the Packers hopes for a quick overtime win.
It was with a lot of trepidation that Giants fans watched Tynes run onto the field when Eli Manning's drive was stalled short of a better field position. With 4th down and 5 to go, many fans could have been forgiven for beseeching Tom Coughlin go for it rather than trust Tynes leg again. Unlike the second miss, Jay Alford's snap was good, Jeff Feagles brought it down perfectly, and Tynes made history. It was -24 degrees when the Giants iced the game.
If you thought that his first kick had a familiar Shunsuke Nakamura swerving quality to it, you would not be far amiss. Tynes is a Celtic fan. He was born in Greenock, Scotland and spent the first decade of his life in Campbeltown where he grew up on Celtic soccer and accompanied his mother and his siblings to club matches.
"I remember being soccer mad, being absolutely crazy about soccer. I remember going to Parkhead to watch Celtic play Hearts and I loved it."
In the US, while in high school, he and his brother were much sought after for their soccer skills. It was his strong leg that attracted the attention of talent scouts who turned him onto gridiron. At Troy State he broke the school record of Ted Clem scoring 262 points. He debuted for NFL Europe's Scottish Claymores before going to the CFL's Ottawa Renegades. He joined the NFL Kansas City Chiefs in 2004 before being traded to the NY Giants in 2007 where he replaced Jay Feely.
His time with the Giants has been rocky with Coughlin critical of his misses. After the first miss against the Packers, Coughlin's beet red face turned purple and when Tynes ran back to the sidelines it appeared that the Giants coach was contemplating major disemboweling surgery.
But the sideline drama has become a metaphor for Tynes life and there are good reasons why his kicking career with the Giants was less than stellar.
"What Tynes says is different, of course. Yeah, his form is off but there are reasons for that. As far as the pressure thing goes, he doesn't feel it. He knows what stress is and getting paid $1.3m a season for kicking a ball between two sticks 'aint it. "
Stress that no one would wish for. The article provides a context to why Tynes had his share of poor moments. But it also gives an insight into Tynes stoic demeanour after his unruffled kick won the game for the Giants. He turned and ran 75 yards through the opposite end zone, through the tunnel and into the locker room. He ran alone. There was no exuberant whooping or pumping of fists. No waiting for team mates to jump on his back.
He also has a strong continuing faith in soccer and he is less than enchanted with NFL efforts to popularize the sport in England.
“I don't know what the NFL are trying to accomplish by bringing a game to England but it'll be fun. I understand them trying to spread the appeal but it's not going to change anybody's mind about soccer over there that's for sure. The idea of some guys in the NFL thinking they can challenge soccer one day is kinda amusing."
His previous highlight was beating outlegendary kicker Morten Andersen (presently second in NFL scoring and a former soccer player himself) for the starting position on the Chiefs team. A feat that Tynes is justifiably proud of. With his field goal leading the Giants to the Super Bowl, this highlight dwarfs the earlier one. Not bad for a Celtic fan.
Here is Soccerblog's article on how European soccer players revolutionized the NFL kicking game >>