Pal of mine picked up a 10-year-old kid on the carpool circuit Monday morning. Kid was bummed about Garrett Hartley’s winning field goal that beat Minnesota in the NFC Championship Game.
"Can’t make it against Oregon, but he beats the Vikings,” said the kid, a big OU and Adrian Peterson fan.
With all the nonsense at the end of that Oklahoma-Oregon game, had you forgotten the blocked field goal on the last play? That 44-yarder was Hartley’s only miss in 20 kicks in 2006.
Obviously, some remember. Which makes Hartley the bizarro Uwe von Schamann, the most hailed of Sooner kickers, but a pariah in Miami.
Von Schamann nailed the biggest field goal in OU history, the 41-yarder that beat Ohio State 29-28 in that epic 1977 game. But four years later, von Schamann fell short of heroics in an epic NFL game.
The Chargers beat von Schamann’s Dolphins 41-38 in overtime of a 1981 divisional playoff that many consider among the five best football games ever played. Miami had two prime chances to win, but San Diego blocked von Schamann’s 43-yarder late in regulation and 34-yarder in overtime. Both kicks were low.
"The feeling is awful,” von Schamann said. "You have to live with it the whole year. You feel like you let your team down.”
Von Schamann’s Ohio State kick still opens doors for him as director of fund-raising at Norman’s J.D. McCarty Center for children with developmental disabilities. But von Schamann also can recall the details of those two blocked field goals at the Orange Bowl.
"I basically hit the ball fat, like a golf shot,” von Schamann said. "I’d like to have that one back. But those moments, they’re going to come. You do learn a lot from those failures. They make you tougher.”
Von Schamann worked with Hartley in the off-season and was pulling for his protÃ©gÃ©.
"I was really proud of the way he came through,” von Schamann said. "I could tell he was real confident. His demeanor, the way he stepped up. It was a sweet kick, like one of those perfect swings on the golf course.
"It’s something you prepare for always, mentally, when you’re practicing.”
Just exactly how do you do that? How do you prepare for the weight of a franchise, for the hope of fans who have waited 43 years for a championship, for lifting the burden of a city trying to rebuild from tragedy?
"It’s hard to duplicate,” von Schamann said.