Cundiff Impressed By Teammates’ Support

Kicker Billy Cundiff received an alumni award from Drake University on Sunday.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Monday, February 13th, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

After Billy Cundiff’s missed 32-yard field goal in the AFC championship, he said he would rely on his family, strong roots and faith to get him through it.

On Sunday, three weeks after the miss, Cundiff returned to his home state to receive an alumni award from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

He returned with even more support than he anticipated – the support of his Ravens teammates.

“It’s been impressive. I expected a lot more backlash,” Cundiff told the Associated Press. “I had a lot of guys that kept telling me, ‘Look, I’ve made mistakes.’ Obviously, everyone sees my mistakes. That’s just the way it goes.”

Cundiff said the loss is still a “tough pill to swallow” but it’s one he’s moving on from.

Ravens management has also said they aren’t going to base their judgment of Cundiff off one missed kick, and will instead look at his entire body work.

A few teammates, including linebackers Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, immediately went to bat for Cundiff after the AFC championship loss.

Suggs said he wouldn’t want to face Cundiff if he played on another team.

“You think he wanted to miss it?” Suggs said in the postgame locker room. “You learn more in failure than you ever do in success. I think it’s all going to build for Billy. I think he’s going to be a phenomenal kicker for years to come.”

On Sunday, Cundiff says his teammates understood it was an anomaly.

“They knew if I had that same situation to play over again, I’d probably make it 99 times out of 100,” he said. “It was a really strange situation. The team understood the context of it all. So they knew going forward that they don’t have to worry about me, because they know what I’ve been through.”

Cundiff’s roller-coaster journey began in Iowa, where he was a three-time, all-state pick at quarterback at Harlan High. He kicked only out of necessity and said he was actually being groomed to play basketball by his parents.

Cundiff wanted to be a quarterback at Drake, a non-scholarship FCS school, but soon realized his future was in his right leg. He left the school with a record 284 points and 49 career field goals.

Undrafted, Cundiff eventually landed with the Dallas Cowboys, where he kicked for four seasons. Then he had one in New Orleans, and a short stint in Cleveland.

He was cut nine times before finding a home in Baltimore.

In his first full season with the Ravens last year, Cundiff was successful on 89.7 of his field-goal attempts and tied the NFL’s single-season touchback record with 40. He was named to the Pro Bowl and signed a reported five-year deal in the offseason.

After a trying 2011 season, in which Cundiff had troubles on the road and dealt with a left calf injury, Cundiff harkened back to lessons learned from his high school football coach at Harlan.

“We just talked about playing the best we could and, as he’d say, let the chips fall where they may. And I think that’s the attitude I’ve taken when I got into the NFL,” Cundiff said.

“I know I’m going to fail, and I know I’m going to have some success. I’m going to put my best effort out there, and sometimes it’s not going to be good enough, and sometimes it’s going to be more than enough. But at the end of the day, can I look myself in the mirror and say I did the best I could? If that’s the case, then I know I can’t really do any more than that.”

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