Tuesday, January 12, 2016
MCCALLUM EMPATHIZES WITH WALSH
In 2004, he missed two field goals - including a chance to win in overtime - in the Saskatchewan Roughriders' 27-25 West Division final loss to the B.C. Lions. The 23-year CFL veteran kicker was the target of numerous threats from angry fans while his home was pelted with eggs and manure dumped on his lawn.
So McCallum can certainly relate to Minnesota kicker Blair Walsh, whose missed 27-yard field goal with 22 seconds remaining handed the Seattle Seahawks a stunning 10-9 NFC wild-card road Sunday. Predictably, irate Vikings fans flocked to social media afterwards wishing Walsh would die or predicting his impending death.
"It's not that people need to blame someone, it's that they have to and it's ridiculous,'' McCallum said Monday via telephone from Vancouver. "We get paid to kick a ball between two posts, let's put that into perspective.
"You want to yell and scream at the game? Go ahead. But now you take it outside and go to the extent of sending (death wishes)? Now those things need to be taken just as seriously as if it was someone in an office making (those wishes).''
Walsh made an NFL-high 34 field goals this season and connected three times - including from 47 yards out - against Seattle. But he hooked his final attempt, made into the wind in -32 C conditions with the laces turned in on the hold.
"It looked like all he was trying to do was get it up because he changed his form a little bit,'' McCallum said. "He was trying to compensate a little bit and pulled it.''
McCallum, 46, downplayed the roles the laces, weather or pressure of the moment had on Walsh missing.
"Everyone saw he kicked the 47-yarder with the laces and it was good, he hit it fine,'' McCallum said. "The pressure, that's just the job, it doesn't matter.
"As far as the weather goes, it's really irrelevant because the ball has only got to go 27 yards. It's not where you have to do anything different to kick it harder ... all you have to do is hit it true. He just missed it ... he made a mistake.''
Walsh's miss took attention away from Minnesota's struggling offence. Not only did the unit fail to score a touchdown, NFL rushing leader Adrian Peterson managed just 45 yards rushing on 23 carries. His second-half fumble also allowed Seattle to kick a field goal for the 10-9 lead.
But that was of little solace to some Vikings fans, who posted videos on Twitter of individuals successfully kicking 27-yard field goals in snowy, cold conditions. And Marshall Faulk and Michael Irvine - both Super Bowl champions and members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame - were very critical of Walsh on The NFL Network.
McCallum said it's important Walsh have both a thick skin and short memory.
"He's a very good kicker,'' McCallum said. "Don't let one mistake define your career.
"That's the one thing I always thought, I'm not going to allow this one mistake be all I'm remembered for. These same idiots who want to sit there and remind me of my one miss don't know and probably don't think of everything in the big picture but I've not missed a field goal in the playoffs since.''
McCallum successfully returned to Saskatchewan in '05, making 31-of-40 field goals for the Riders (9-9). While he felt acceptance from his teammates, McCallum admits he didn't feel the love from then head coach head coach Danny Barrett and GM Roy Shivers.
"I felt the pressure of the public support I got was the only reason why I was there in 2005 because in 2006 the second the GM could get rid of me, he did,'' McCallum said.
However, McCallum said jilted fans have long memories.
"I remember my first year playing for B.C. (in '06) I went for dinner with (quarterbacks) Dave Dickenson and Buck Pierce and they asked if I still got heckled because of the miss in '04 and spending the next year in Saskatchewan,'' McCallum said. "We literally walked across the street and some guy saw me and yelled out the window of his car at me.
"They looked at each other in awe and said, 'You're kidding me?' All the negative people, they don't forget and just keep on going so yeah, I can relate.''
McCallum played nine seasons with B.C. - winning Grey Cups in 2006 and '11 - before returning to Saskatchewan last season. After hitting 29-of-36 field goals in 14 games, McCallum was deactivated in favour of rookie Tyler Crapigna before being released.
McCallum doesn't expect to play in 2016, saying in his mind he's retired. Over 23 seasons he made 393-of-459 field goals (85.6 per cent), accumulated 1,620 points and a 41.8-yard career punting average.