They say that “revenge is a dish best served cold.” But between the lukewarm temperatures Sunday at Soldier Field in San Francisco’s 15-14 victory over the Bears and the tepid offensive performances from both teams, the Robbie Gould revenge game was about as bland as an unflavored piece of tofu.
Fortunately for the Niners, Gould’s saltiness and bitterness added some taste to the win.
Coming from a former kicker myself, here’s a bit of insight into the psyche of those who play the position:
Kickers love to be recognized. They crave recognition. They feed off the good vibes generated by positive affirmation of their work. They strive to maintain relevance in a sport in which they’re considered second-class citizens.
I’m sure you’ve seen it before — and perhaps you’re guilty of it as well — that kickers are casually dismissed with a wave of the hand and relegated to “just” kickers. As in: “he’s not a real football player; he’s just a kicker.”
This coming despite kickers perennially leading the NFL in scoring.
Perhaps what is most discouraging to kickers is to not have the difficulty of their craft understood.
When kickers miss what look like “easy” kicks, they feel the wrath of everyone associated with the team, from coaches to teammates to the fan base, come down upon them.
“C’mon, kicker! All you do is kick!”
They are ostracized and left standing by themselves, sulking 30 yards down the sideline by their kicking net. However, when they make what some call a “routine” kick, they get little more than a pat on the helmet and an “atta boy.”
Kicking may look like a simple task, but I assure you it is anything but. It requires near-flawless and ever-consistent technique, a short memory, and nerves of steel … and that’s if conditions are absolutely perfect. When you throw in blustering winds, pouring rain, muddy fields and slippery grass, plus the weight and pressure of the entire stadium bearing down on you, the job is all the more difficult.
It’s because of this constant jostle for recognition of one’s worth that I’m not the least bit surprised that former Bears kicker Robbie Gould was, and continues to be, such a blowhard.
Following Gould’s game-winning field goal against his former team, his fifth field goal of the day, Gould — all 150 pounds (soaking wet) of him — let out a primal roar and visibly taunted the Bears’ sideline.
Never mind how ridiculous he looked as any one of the Bears players, coaches, and certain members of the training staff could squash him like a bug.
Robbie, I’m not going to play the “you’re just a kicker” card on you because I know what that feels like.
But I will play this one: no matter how disrespected you felt when the Bears cut you in 2016, your big mouth and bloated salary made you expendable. Period.
And although the Bears have struggled to find a kicker in your stead, I still applaud their decision because you are not the difference between a 3-9 team and a playoff contender.
Robbie, you were a distraction. You were sucking up money that needed to go to other positions. You were not winning enough games by yourself to deserve to be kept here.
Go ahead and puff up your chest — you know, that flat surface with two Tic Tacs protruding out your shirt. Go ahead and thump that thing and feel vindicated as if crimes against humanity were brought to your doorstep when you got cut from a football team.
And best of all, for a guy who once declared, “I’m playing to feed my family,” they received some good news when Papa’s fifth field goal sailed through the uprights: they won’t go starving any time soon.
Good news, family! We get to eat tonight!
But I hope as Gould was headed back to San Francisco — not on the team’s airplane but on the Cloud Nine he so brazenly launched himself upon — that he didn’t get a red handprint on his back from patting himself so hard.
I hope he realizes that for as good as his performance was — and converting on all five field goals is indeed a strong outing — that he is nothing without his teammates.
Let’s dispel this idea of a “revenge game” and that “Gould beat the Bears by himself.”
No, he really didn’t. Because if not for his offense’s success in driving the ball into field goal range, Gould wouldn’t have had a single point, let alone 15.
And in a contrary, yet complementary perspective, if the 49ers’ offense hadn’t been as inept as it ultimately was, Gould would’ve been kicking extra points, not field goals, and he would’ve been “just another guy” on Sunday.
Meanwhile, on the other side, the Bears continued to trot out their JV offense to scrimmage against the 49ers defense. The only question that matters every week that we recap Bears games this season is this: Did Mitch Trubisky get better?
If you’re a stats nerd, you look at Trubisky’s 12 of 15 completions for 102 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions, with a 117.2 passer rating. It doesn’t seem that impressive but it’s modest growth.
Have you ever tried to guess what a puzzle looks like — without the picture on the cover of the box — when so many pieces seem to be missing?
Thus is the state of the 2017 Bears offense. We don’t know what the 2018-and-beyond Trubisky-led Bears are going to look like. Bears general manager Ryan Pace is still trying to find all the right puzzle pieces.