The timing of scapegoats

This past weekend I witnessed one of the most exciting NFL football games I have ever seen on television. In the game, the home team’s quarterback threw for 506 yards, five touchdown passes and had one interception. The quarterback of the away team threw for only 414 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Both quarterbacks had excellent games but statistics clearly show the home quarterback edged out his away team counterpart. But what if I told you the home team not only lost 51-48, but their quarterback was blamed for the loss. Such is the plight of the Dallas Cowboys and their quarterback Tony Romo.

How is this possible? It all comes down to timing. Romo and the ‘Boys were matching blows with the powerful Denver Broncos and future Hall-of-Famer Peyton Manning. Manning threw a pick just like Romo, but Manning’s came in the third quarter which gave Denver time to recover while Romo threw his with two minutes to go and let the Broncos bleed the clock before kicking a game winner. Romo has a history of bad timing; in fact, his legacy is defined by a botched hold on a field goal against Seattle in the 2007 playoffs. Ever since then, anytime something has gone wrong for the Cowboys, Romo has played the role of scapegoat.

[pullquote align=”right”]Baseball is probably the worst with scapegoats. Only the recent success of the Red Sox has made it possible for Bill Buckner to come within 100 miles of Boston.[/pullquote]

Of course scapegoats are nothing new or original in sports. Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard field goal against the Giants that would have changed how people viewed the ’90s Bills. Norwood caught most of the blame even though the Bill’s powerful offense got shut down the whole game. Chris Webber became Michigan’s scapegoat after he called a timeout the Wolverines didn’t have in the final seconds against North Carolina. He made one mistake at the end of a game and it defined his legacy even though he was the best player of Michigan’s famed Fab Five.

Baseball is probably the worst with scapegoats. Only the recent success of the Red Sox has made it possible for Bill Buckner to come within 100 miles of Boston. Buckner is forever remembered for letting a ground ball slip through his legs to give the Mets a win in game six of the 1986 World Series. Buckner got all the blame even though a wild pitch by Bob Stanley was the reason the Mets were able to tie the game in the first place. Cub fans were ready to attack Steve Bartman after he deflected a foul ball that had a chance of being caught in the 2003 NLCS against the Marlins. The Cubs were about to win the series until they melted down in that fateful 8th inning, leaving Bartman as the scapegoat even though the Cubs had plenty of chances to prevent the rally.

What do all these people have in common? They all had bad timing. They were involved but never totally at fault for their team’s losses. Unfortunately, in sports we tend to place the blame on one person who was in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Come to think of it, as humans, we tend to do the same in life. I say the critics shouldn’t be so harsh on Romo this time. Dallas still has a lot to look forward to this season and had a game they can build off. I think the Cowboys will be fine especially with a weak division this year — if only Romo could avoid big moments.