SAN DIEGO-For George Matson, the dream of every red-blooded American boy was his for the taking in the gathering twilight of a splendid Sunday evening in San Diego: a do-or-die kick to win the Super Bowl.
The snap was perfect. The hold was perfect. Matson took two steps, planted his left foot and sent his right barreling into the ball. It felt good. He knew he'd hit it solid and true. He looked up, expecting the ball to be right down the middle, only to see it fade right, ricochet off the upright, fall to the crossbar, and bounce back onto the field of play.
After a record setting 7 for 7 performance up to that point, including 3 attempts that were longer than this final fateful try, Matson erred just so slightly and sat alone on the field, the goat's horns hanging so unjustly upon his head.
"What can I say?" Matson muttered dejectedly to reporters after the game.
"I gave it my all. That final kick was just as good as any of the others. I did my job. God was rooting for the other team. When I looked up after the kick, I could see that the wind shifted while it was on its way. The flags on the uprights will bear that out when you watch the replays.
"It goes without saying that I couldn't have predicted the wind shift. God let me down. He completely abandoned me in my hour of need. He left me twisting in the wind, literally.
"Not only that, He set me up, getting me all pumped up and sky high on my performance up to that point, just to snatch it from me at the end. That's just cruel. You want acclamation and praise for God? Go talk to the other team.
"Don't get me wrong. I go to church. I'll be happy to give God credit when things go my way. But if He wants to be in the driver's seat like my minister's always telling me, He's got to take the blame when things go wrong."