Since watching Phil Mickelson’s meltdown on the 72nd hole of the 106th U.S. Open Championship, I’ve been wondering what it must feel like to be standing on the tee with a one-shot lead and a chance to win golf’s ultimate prize.

Or at the free throw line, with two shots and my team down by one in the closing seconds of Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

Or a couple of feet behind the holder ready to attempt a 35-yard game-winning field goal to win the Super Bowl.

Even what it feels like to have a slow-rolling ground ball approaching and all you have to do is scoop it up and step on first base to be a World Series champion.

In sport it happens all the time. We identify the hero and the goat, the “we” being a pear-shaped media that somehow seems to know what if feels like to be — or almost be — a champion at a particular endeavor.

The arrogance and cocky attitude of a group that loves sport, yet likes to throw out words like “choke” is almost comical.

It’s the same group that makes jokes about the World Cup, yet when they see the interest decide that they had better talk about it because (insert clearing of throat here) they knew all along that American televisions would be tuned in.

On Sunday night, sportscast after sportscast went on about the “choke” earlier in the day at Winged Foot in New York. One state broadcast almost seemed to enjoy Mickelson’s pain then made mention of his failing to meet with the television media post-Open.


All I can remember is a certain Southern California thrashing of the University of Oklahoma in a football game and even the media of that particular Oklahoma station deciding it was best to avoid a post-game show all together.

Mickelson eventually talked to reporters in New York and he did make mention of “choke” and “I am an idiot,” but he’s obviously earned the right to say it.

Put yourself in the shoes of the guy who missed the field goal, the free throws, or even Bill Buckner. Five minutes later are you going to want to talk to anybody?

Fact is, 97-percent of us will never be in that position.

Too early for football?

In between World Cup games — 21 of 32 in 11 days — I pulled out the ballot for the Big 12 Conference’s 2006 Preseason All-Big 12 Football Team. There are a couple of givens — Adrian Peterson as Offensive Player of the Year and the Sooners as the South’s top pick — but picking the best individuals in the league is anybody’s guess in late June.

The Cowboys do have a few all-league candidates.

A strong spring could put safety Andre Sexton and receiver Adarius Bowman in the mix for All-Newcomer honors, while D’Juan Woods is obviously among the conference’s best wideouts.

And if the spring was any indication, Victor DeGrate could show up on a few radar screens before December.

We all know, however, that wins translate into All-Conference squads and for the Pokes to put even one on the list, it’s going to take more than five wins in 2006.

Rumor mill

Yes, two-time NCAA wrestling champion Steve Mocco is thinking about football this fall. Collegiate athletes have five years of eligibility with a maximum of four per sport — plus an extra year for medical redshirts or particular hardship cases ruled on by the NCAA.

Mocco finished his collegiate wrestling career last March and has been working out this summer. No football since junior high will most likely not translate into a varsity spot this fall.

Of course this is Steve Mocco, so it wouldn’t be a complete shocker to see him make the team this August. If nothing else, his intensity might rub off on a few members of a team that is picked to finish last in the Big 12 South Division.

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