Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Kasay, the Super Bowl kickoff and the Hall of Honor

John Kasay was one of the finest gentlemen and best players the Panthers ever employed, and so it was well and good that he signed a one-day contract Tuesday so he could officially retire as a Panther. It's even better that he will remain a part of the Charlotte community as the new athletic director at Charlotte Christian (as well as the football team's special-teams coach).

My favorite stat about Kasay is this: he not only leads the Panthers in scoring, but he is more than 1,000 points ahead of everyone else. Kasay scored 1,482 points in his 16 seasons. Steve Smith is next, with 430.

Kasay remembers the game-winning kicks, yes -- but he also said he liked the "game icers" just as much. Those kicks, when he put a game out of reach and got to enjoy his teammates' reaction for a few more minutes on the sideline, were just as satisfying as the "walk-off kicks," he said.

Almost every Kasay memory that Panther fans have is a positive, because he was so clutch. About the only high-profile one that wasn't? When he hooked a kickoff out of bounds in fourth quarter of the 2003 Super Bowl, with the game tied at 29-all and 1:08 left in regulation. Starting at his own 40 after the kick, Tom Brady got New England into field-goal range and the Panthers lost, 32-29.

Kasay said he "agonized" afterward about that kick, and he knows very well what went wrong.

"I had practiced that kick for years and years and years," said Kasay, who was trying to kick the ball toward the corner to give New England's return man fewer options. "You can try to kick it on a straight line over there. The other way is you can almost bend the ball like in golf... I did both at the same time.... I put some spin on the ball as I aimed over there as well, Because I wanted it to be so perfect. If I had just given myself more of a margin of error… I hit the ball good but when my toe hit the ball I remember thinking, ‘Oh no.'"

I have always believed Brady would have gotten the Patriots into field-goal range even if Kasay had booted the kickoff through the uprights and New England had started from the 20. Brady was just too good that day. And remember this: the Patriots' average drive-start on Kasay's previous kickoffs had been the 27. The errant kickoff likely netted New England only about 13 yards.

Still, it stung Kasay, because he hated so much to let his teammates down -- and he did it so rarely in his career.

As for the future, the 43-year-old Kasay will be a fine AD, and he will eventually be inducted into the Panthers' Hall of Honor. Kasay said Panther owner Jerry Richardson has never talked to him about that -- the only Panther player currently in this very small hall is the late Sam Mills -- but there could be no more fitting recipient than No.4.


Matt Privett said...

I have no doubt that the Patriots would've gotten into field goal range even if they'd been pinned back to the 20 or 15. The Panthers' defense played hard that day but they were totally gassed. You can always play the "What if?" game, but I think the result would have been the same.

Marty Hurney said...

Agreed - the next two inductees should be Kasay and myself.

John said...

Only two things need to be said about that kickoff:
#1 the Panthers should never have put themselves in that position to begin with... as I recall, the clock management on the previous drive (as in many late losses) was very poor.
#2 how many games have the Panthers lost on missed FGs since Kasay was cut?

Yup, nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Should have kicked it in the middle Panthers would win superbowl,not try to do something spectacular and kick it in the corner its not like the Patriots had Devin Hester in the backfield.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm scott....is this kasay saying he regrets the muffed kickoff,or is this your final stab in the back to kasay? Simply,if the panthers defense would have made a play,or if they wouldn't have given up those two long passes,the pats wouldn't have gotten into fg range. Why not bash the def coord or fox for playing double prevent defense in the waning seconds......

Anonymous said...

Thank you John Kasay for being such a class act a my favorite Panther!

Also, Scott, what do you think about that scathing article Adam Schien decided to write on nfl.com?