Why, Swish? Why?!
You didn't have to do it. There was no reason for you to be in on that tackle. It was the opening kickoff of the second half, for crying out loud. Even if you had been the team's last line of defense -- you weren't -- and the returner was streaking down the field for a touchdown -- he wasn't -- it didn't matter.
It didn't matter.
For as much as Steeler Nation loves a gritty player, and for as much as we would love to see some more victories in the pre-season, most of us know that the score is the most meaningless aspect of these games. They are glorified scrimmages, and if the team had a backup kicker on the roster, you wouldn't have even been in shoulder pads by that time.
It just. Didn't. Matter.
Okay, I can't fault you for letting instinct kick in -- no pun intended. You are a football player, you love your team and your city, and you were just helping out your bros. I get it. We all get it. But you are a seasoned veteran. It's your job to teach football intelligence, so you should be able to exercise it.
You are among the all-time leaders in Pittsburgh in terms of scoring. Fifth, to be exact, and fourth was well within reach this year. If last year's offense was any indication, you could have made up the 45-point gap between yourself and Franco Harris just with extra points.
But now, it's a moot point. 2015 will come and go without cries of, "Swish!" each time you split the uprights. We won't be talking about your epic accuracy in the league's toughest-to-kick venue. We'll be stuck with Shayne Graham, Jay Feely, Garrett Hartley or some other second-hand cast-off.
You were once a second-hand cast-off too, so maybe there is a silver lining. Maybe being forced to kick at Heinz Field at least eight games a year has a way of galvanizing a kicker. Or it might buckle the poor, unsuspecting sap. Who knows until he gets here?
We all figured one or more games this season -- especially with such a brutal schedule -- would come down to your leg, and we all had the utmost confidence that you would pull through. Now, with some other unknown leg taking over for the year, that confidence hasn't been shattered. It's been pulverized. No matter who the Steelers find to take on kicking responsibilities, fans will watch each attempt with a trembling fear, because it's not our sibling back there lining up the kick. It's not even going to be a step-brother. It's going to be some second-rate hired hand. That scares the bejabbers out of us.
We wish you the best and speediest of recoveries. On the one hand, it's for purely selfish reasons -- we want our winner back healthy in 2016 -- but, on the other hand, it's strictly for you. You are family. You've earned the praise which has been heaped upon you these last three years. You have been the consummate teammate.
Get well soon, Swish. Make sure you are ready for 2016.
We'd hate to win two Super Bowls in a row without you.