The Comeback Kid

Last night, the Boise State University football team defeated the Utah “Utes” in the MAACO Bowl in Nevada, 26-3.  I was rooting for Boise, but the news that pleased me the most was seeing Kyle Brotzman, the Senior kicker and punter for Boise, playing in the game, playing well, and completely supported by his teammates and his coaches.

What’s so unusual about a kicker playing in a bowl game and being supported by his team?  Well, Brotzman is the kicker who 4 weeks ago missed the two field goals that shook the college football season to it’s foundations.  Boise was ranked in the top 5 teams in the country and had a legitimate chance to play in the National Championship game when they travelled to play Nevada on November 26th.  Nevada was ranked number 19 at the time, and the game was a back and forth thriller right to the end.  But with 2 seconds left and the game tied at 31-31, it looked like the upset bid by Nevada was over.  After a quick drive down field, the ever reliable Brotzman lined up to kick what for him is a simple chip shot, a game winning 26 yard field goal.  It wasn’t to be though.  The kick sailed wide to the right, and instead of a celebration we had an overtime game.

In the first possession of overtime, Nevada kicked a field goal to go up 34-31.  Boise followed with their possession, but could not generate a first down and had to settle for a field goal attempt from 29 yards, which if made would  send the game into a 2nd overtime.  Brotzman took the field, attempted his kick, and again it sailed wide right.  Boise State’s hopes and prospects were shattered, and they went from potentially playing in the Rose Bowl for the National Championship to the December 22nd MAACO Bowl.  As one writer said: Two missed kicks, and Boise State went from being the darling of BCS busters everywhere to just another team looking for a bowl game.

Sports page headlines screamed:  “Two Missed Field Goals Doom Boise State”, “Nevada Upsets Boise State After Brotzman’s 2 Missed Field Goals”, and the like.  One ESPN commentator jokingly, “this kid is going to need some counseling”.

It was a shameful joke by the commentator, but the fact is that it must be true.  How could a 21 year old kid recover from missing 2 kicks he normally makes in his sleep, costing his teammates, friends, and University so much?  We turn off these games and move on with our lives, but the players sometimes can’t, and in this case surely Brotzman couldn’t, and probably never completely will.

His coaches and his teammates handled the situation exactly right, which given the age of the kids and the devastating consequences of the misses is truly admirable.  The coaches and comments of the team’s quarterback were essentially, “we don’t lose games because of 2 plays.  The game lasts 60 minutes, we had plenty of opportunities to score other touchdowns, get in position to kick other field goals, make defensive stands to prevent Nevada from scoring, and we didn’t get it done.  Brotzman’s misses were highlighted because of the timing of them, but they were but 2 of maybe 25 opportunities we missed to win the game”.   This of course is absolutely true, but I’m sure they weren’t the least bit comforting for this young man.

Last night Brotzman made 2 field goals and 2 extra points for his team, driving his total season points scored to 99.  With each kick his teammates embraced him, his coaches high-fived him, and the Boise fans cheered him.  It was a sight to see, and it makes one optimistic that this kid who has accomplished so much at his young age is going to be just fine.


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