There are only a handful of ways to make an American football player truly memorable, and on Monday night Brett Maher hit one nasty one. During the Cowboys’ 31-14 playoff victory over the Pirates, he became Maher First player in NFL history to miss four extra points in one game. He missed four in a row before finally making his last try of the game. The whole thing was amazing and strangely exciting to watch, and it left everyone who watched it with the distinct impression that something was wrong with Mahir’s body, his brain, or both. It also left a big question hanging in the air: What would the cowboys do about it?
The Cowboys will face the 49ers in a divisional round game Sunday night, and they won’t go into that game with the same room for error that they had against an objectively mediocre Bucs team. The Buzzsaw Niners haven’t lost a game since October, and if the Cowboys are going to beat them it will be in the type of game where an extra point or field goal makes all the difference. Kicker is a site that is easy to overlook on the list as long as the man on the job performs his basic duties more or less automatically. Inject some real doubt into a kicker’s ability to consistently hit extra points, and suddenly it feels like one of the most important positions on the team.
So what should a cowboy do? On the other hand, if Maher’s Monday night issues are in any way psychological, a team that expresses full confidence in his abilities heading into the Niners game might go a long way toward getting his head right. It’s good to have the support of your colleagues. On the other hand, you can’t mess with this stuff! There are plenty of unemployed holdouts the Cowboys could sign right now; Theoretically, any number of them could slip in on short notice and handle Maher’s duties efficiently in San Francisco. (Then again, if the theory were so reliable, Maher would, too.)
Shortly after the game on Monday, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones chose the first course of action, telling reporters that the Cowboys would not sign a new player before the Niners game. “no no no ,” Jones said When asked if the team will be looking for any kickers this week. “He’s done enough good.” Head coach Mike McCarthy expressed similar sentiments after the game, telling reporters that the plan was to hold on to Maher for the kick. He reiterated that plan on Tuesday, saying that The team was on its way to “moving forward” with Maher.
Given all of these quotes, it was a bit surprising to learn on Wednesday that the Cowboys had signed free kicker Tristan Vizcaino to their practice squad.
Maher will have to spend the next couple of days practically kicking next to a guy trying to take his job, but then what? If he makes all those kicks, will the Cowboys head into the game on Sunday with Maher as the only player on the roster? What if yips come back in the first quarter? It’s the ultimate plan Both Vizcaino and Maher on that game list, just in case? Will we see Jerry Jones choke to death on a hot dog on live TV after he watched McCarthy seat Maher in the middle of the game and then sent Vizcaino over there to miss a field goal as time expired?
I don’t begrudge anyone trying to cope with this situation, especially Maher. He had the worst night of his career on Monday, spent all of the next 48 hours hearing how his coach, owner and teammates fully supported him, then he would show up to work today only to find that someone new was trying to take over his job. Good luck out there my friend.
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