Finding Buckner: Crowning the Colts Scapegoat - Day 5

Andy Lyons

Every franchise has one - the player/fan/coach that kept you from getting to the top when you should have. In Boston it's Bill Buckner. In Chicago it's Steve Bartman. In Buffalo it's Scott Norwood. Who is the biggest scapegoat in Indianapolis Colts history? That hasn't been determined - yet.

**UPDATE**

Because most people seemed to be in favor of keeping with the Championship Tournament format I have re-posted this and only allowing voting for the #1 Seed and #4 Seed today. Voting for the #2 vs. #3 seeds will take place tomorrow. YOUR VOICES WERE HEARD!

Let's do this right.

No surprises after Round 1. All four of the top seeds advanced (even though Bill Polian ALMOST pulled off the upset) and are set for Round 2.

Colts fans, here are your Final Four:

#1 Mike Vanderjagt

#2 Jeff George

#3 Jim Caldwell

#4 Hank Baskett

If you'd like a recap of how we got here check out Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4 by clicking the links.

Mike Vanderjagt and Hank Baskett will be posted today and profiles for our other match-up will be posted tomorrow.

Let's stir up your anger again.

THE CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS:

#1 Mike Vanderjagt, #2 Jeff George,#3 Jim Caldwell and #4 Hank Baskett

Reading your comments from earlier postings the hate for these is pretty incredible. Mike Vanderjagt secured over 600 votes in Round 1, easily giving him the most votes in the tournament. Hank Baskett had the most hateful comments (couple of f-bombs sent his way) posted on his article - so... yeah, this should be interesting. I'm amazed at how many people mentioned that they don't remember the cancer that Jeff George was. He easily won his first round match-up but most people that left comments seemed to have moved on and could care less about George and the pain he caused Indianapolis. Jim Caldwell BARELY advanced with most people seeming torn about to attribute the blame for past failures - some said Polian, others gave it to Caldwell. It will be interesting to see if those that were split over Caldwell/Polian in the first round unite to push Caldwell into contention.

Here's a reminder of why everyone is here:

#1 Mike Vanderjagt

Profile: Vanderjagt was originally a quarterback at Michigan State before ending up at West Virginia as a kicker and punter for the Mountaineers. Mike bounced around Arena Football and the CFL before joining the Colts in 1998. He retired as the most accurate kicker in NFL and CFL history, hitting nearly 87% of his attempts.

Years with the Colts: 1998-2005

Best Moments:

  1. In 2003 Vanderjagt went a perfect 37 for 37 on field goals during the regular season and 3 for 3 during the playoffs becoming the first kicker in NFL history to have a 'perfect' season.
  2. Led the NFL in scoring in 1999.
  3. Vanderjagt holds the record for most consecutive field goals made at 42.
  4. Most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history (minimum 100 attempts).
Why he is on the list: Of all the responses I received on Twitter, Mike Vanderjagt topped them all. It's amazing to me that he seems to be the most disliked Colt of the Indianapolis era. Here are the lowlights:
  1. After the 2003 season, in the Pro Bowl, Vanderjagt (Mr. 37 for 37) missed a game tying 51 yard field goal with three seconds left.
  2. Vanderjagt's streak of 42 straight field goals was broken on the Monday Night opener in 2004 against the New England Patriots. The Colts lose 27-24.
  3. In a 2000 playoff game against Miami Vanderjagt misses 49 yard field goal in overtime.
  4. Following the 2002 season, Vanderjagt goes on a Canadian television program and questions the leadership of Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy. Manning follows with his historic 'idiot kicker' comments at the Pro Bowl.
  5. During the 2004 playoffs Vanderjagt describes the Patriots as 'ripe for the picking' in their playoff match-up with the Colts. This bulletin board material inspires the Patriots and leads to Rodney Harrison proclaiming Vanderjagt as 'Vanderjerk'. The Patriots go on to win the game 20-3 and are the eventual Super Bowl Champs.
  6. In the 2005 NFL playoffs the highly favored Colts (coming off a bye) played host to the Pittsburgh Steelers. With 18 seconds left to play and the Colts trailing 21-18 Vanderjagt misses a 46 yard field goal very wide (like not even close) right. Compounding the problem, Vanderjagt goes on David Letterman and successfully makes a 46 yard field goal with Letterman as the holder.






Summary : Mike Vanderjagt is the #1 seed in this tournament for a reason - he wasn't all that likable. He missed clutch kicks when they mattered most and said some dumb things about two of the most loved Colts of all time (Manning and Dungy). He displayed arrogance and was outspoken while playing a position that most in the NFL don't respect. His stats say that he was one of the best kickers in NFL history but Colts fans remember him a very different way.

#4 Hank Baskett

Profile: Hank Baskett was an undrafted free agent out of the University of New Mexico. He has played for three NFL teams including two stints each with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings. Baskett was a late addition to the 2009 Indianapolis Colts team that started 14-0 and lost to the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV.

Years with the Colts: 2009

Best Moments as a Colt:

  1. Hank Baskett didn't see much playing time for the Colts throughout the 2009 season, catching just four passes and recording one tackle on special teams. His best game statistically was against the Jets (when the Colts rested their starters to forgo a perfect season) when he caught two passes for 16 yards.
Why he is on the list:
  1. During Super Bowl XLIV, with the Colts leading the Saints 10-6, Baskett fails to recover a surprise onside kick. The ball hit Baskett square on the facemask and bounced towards the Saints. Amazingly he still had a chance to recover the ball and, at one point, seemed to have it. The officials (who seemed to say 'blue ball' during the scrum) eventually awarded the ball to the Saints and New Orleans went on to win the game 34-17.


Summary : Hank Baskett's time with the Colts was short but his impact wasn't. What would have happened in Super Bowl XLIV had he recovered the kick cleanly? Baskett hasn't talked much about the kick, but I was able to find some quotes released by the Eagles PR department (posted by ESPN South blogger, Paul Kuharsky) concerning the kick. Take a look:
"I thought everybody was going to come down on me for it. As everybody knows, anybody who follows football, one play does not change the game. It sucks that the first onside kick in history before the fourth quarter had to happen to me. It was battle underneath the pile, but I actually haven't been beaten down about it. I knew I was probably going to catch some grief. Of course, it's the biggest game of the year, but not what I was expecting or anybody else was expecting."

- Hank Baskett, on if he had been given flack for not recovering the onside kick
"I took the step, I took the steps back and then I saw it coming. I went and it took a bad bounce and I don't know how I had a second chance. I crawled under everybody and got back on it. It was a long time underneath there. Guys on our team attested that they heard it was 'blue ball' so when I started getting up, another guy poked it out and that's how the guy got it. It was a long battle. I'll tell you, it seemed like we were down there for a good half hour."

- Hank Baskett, on whether or not he saw the onside kick coming


I've made the case for each of them..... TODAY YOU WILL VOTE FOR VANDERJAGT AGAINST BASKETT - Who is the bigger scapegoat in Indianapolis Colts history?

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