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Posted at 11:06 AM ET, 12/15/2010

Hunter Smith, morality and the Lawsuit Generation

By Dan Steinberg

(By Ricky Carioti - TWP)


Jason Reid wrote earlier in the week that punter/holder Hunter Smith understands why he was cut, and indeed, he's been remarkably honest about the process ever since that last-second snap flew through threw his hands on Sunday afternoon.

But honestly, this goes beyond mere understanding. This is some sort of existential life statement for Smith, a lesson about accepting responsibility and telling the truth and being comfortable with his life and his fate. Not that I've been in this business for long, but I can't recall any fired athlete acting quite like this.

"Everybody says 'Well, you know, what about the dropped pass earlier in the game, what about the missed holding call, what about the bad pass, what about the missed field goal, what about, what about, what about..." Smith told reporters on Monday. "But at the end, when you have an opportunity to tie it up, the whole game comes down to that. We did all we could to be in the game, to tie it up, and didn't. And it's my fault."

This was before he was released. Strikes me as taking an awful lot of responsibility. After he was released, he went on TBD's Parker and Parker, where co-host Alex Parker asked Smith whether throwing himself under the bus like that was somehow therapeutic. That's when things got really deep.

"I think that it's therapeutic in the sense of you told the truth," Smith said. "And we all know that even if the truth is hard or hurts, it's better to tell the truth. So I didn't do it for personal reasons at all. It's a moral responsibility.

"I don't want to make this too serious -- we are talking about football here -- but it is a moral duty on some level to tell the truth and to take responsibility. And I won't go off too much on my values and things like that, but I believe that I'm a part of a generation, really, the Lawsuit Generation. Everything is somebody else's fault. People that are my age -- and a little younger, and a little older -- want to blame somebody else, and they tend to want to self-protect. And I really reject that as a pattern of behavior, and as a pattern of morality. It's not how I'm going to live my life. When I make a mistake, I'm going to own up to it. And really, that's kind of what all this comes down to."

That's....unusual? It's the rare athlete speech that prompts me to stop what I'm doing and actually think seriously about my own life, and possibly wind up curled up in the floor in tears. The only other thing I can think of, off the top of my head, was Gilbert's blog sermon on New Year's resolutions and happiness. And while I'm kind of joking here, I'm also kind of not.

Julie Parker then asked Smith whether he was being made a scapegoat for one team loss.

"Am I a scapegoat?" Smith repeated. "I believe that in the NFL, there are a couple of different types of teams out there. There are some teams that display undying loyalty to their coaches and players. There are other teams that tend to want to make a little more of a statement in times of quote-unquote tragedy or something like this going on, by making an example out of somebody, by partially putting the blame on them for the loss.

"And I'm not saying that the Redskins are completely that kind of a team, but in this sense, I think that it does come down to that. Regardless of how I've been punting this year, regardless of some of the difficult positions I've found myself in as a punter, I think that as a holder, if I catch that ball, get it down, and we make the extra point, and we win the game in overtime, I think that we're all giving each other high-fives, congratulating each other, and I'm going to work [Wednesday] morning."

By Dan Steinberg  | December 15, 2010; 11:06 AM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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Next: McNabb: "You have to start up front"

Comments

Can we elect this guy to Congress?

Posted by: wahoo2x | December 15, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Wow. Hunter, I hope my son grows up to be like you. You deserve much better than to be associated with the sham and disgrace that goes by the name Washington Redskins.

Posted by: redhotCAPSaicin | December 15, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Class act = Hunter Smith. The Skins don't have too many of those, and now they have one less. What an absurd move. He's one of the best punters in the league, and he is now the least likely holder to have a miscue. Just a silly move.

Posted by: AsstGM | December 15, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Now I understand why this guy was cut. He actually accepts responsibility and tells it like it is. Which makes him a non-core Redskin in the Dan $nyder era.

Good luck to you in the future, Mr. Smith.

Posted by: Ve1ostrummer | December 15, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

thanks for relinking that gilbert 'happiness' blog. one of my favorites

Posted by: 3tripleiii | December 15, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Cutting Hunter Smith was only a symbolic act, and one that will not solve the Redskins' many problems. Smith showed a lot of class, but it takes more than one person to lose a game. For instance, if Gano had made the two failed field goal attempts, the Redskins might have won the game. And others made mistakes too. Anyway, I wish Hunter Smith well wherever he ends up.

Posted by: CAmira5 | December 15, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Hunter has said that he has really gained a lot of insight into life and football during coversations and chess matches with teammate Carlos Rogers. Rogers said that he'll miss his former teammate, as they had great debates about politics and the arts. Some considered them an odd couple, but they had become friends when they both realized that they were big fans of Amy Tan's novel, The Joy Luck Club, and they shared an interest in astrophysics.

Posted by: mike8 | December 15, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Hunter has said that he has really gained a lot of insight into life and football during coversations and chess matches with teammate Carlos Rogers. Rogers said that he'll miss his former teammate, as they had great debates about politics and the arts. Some considered them an odd couple, but they had become friends when they both realized that they were big fans of Amy Tan's novel, The Joy Luck Club, and they shared an interest in astrophysics.

Posted by: mike8 | December 15, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

"flew threw"? Maybe flew through.

Posted by: Incredulous2 | December 15, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

In other news, Chris Cooley thinks they should have beat the Bucs because they practiced all week....

Posted by: Scoonie97 | December 15, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

those are the words of a man who WANTED to be released. CRY FREEDOM!!!

Posted by: telecomic | December 15, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Smith could have also said, "You know, the way I look at it, if you're going to eat (expletive), you might as well take a big bite."

The loss cannot be laid at his feet alone, so respect for owning up to his part in it. Not sure why you'd cut him. As if that will somehow jump start the back half of the season. He's a good player, a good teammate and a professional. If they wanted to set an example (whatever that means), there were better cuts to be made.

Posted by: kungpow9960 | December 15, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Everyone still cracks on the "Swinging Gate" (or whatever the hell it was) play that Zorn called. I, however, will fondly recall the pass Hunter threw for a TD in the 09 Bronco's game. A differently designed trick play in which he, as Hunter The Holder, became the QB and threw to the Fat FB in the end zone.

Best wishes Hunter. You are, no doubt, off to a better place.

Posted by: TheDubb | December 15, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Class in the face of adversity (read, being made a scape-goat)? Personal responsibility?...

Hunter the Holder has grown a foot in my eyes. There IS a reason he was released...he's TOO GOOD for the likes of the Synder-Skins.

Here's hoping there's better things for you, sir, on the other side of this. Best of luck!

Posted by: clb_in_md | December 15, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I believe that in the NFL, there are a couple of different types of teams out there. There are some teams that display undying loyalty to their coaches and players. There are other teams that tend to want to make a little more of a statement in times of quote-unquote tragedy or something like this going on, by making an example out of somebody, by partially putting the blame on them for the loss.

This, I think, puts it all in perspective. Pro football is hard enough, made even harder by the thought of being cut if you make a single mistake. Snyder has a history of cutting guys and making scapegoats out of players. There is so much pressure on a kicker to make a 19 yard field goal (Suisham last year), to snap/hold for a kick (See Dan Turk/Smith) that they undoubtedly crack. You must allow for mistakes, you must allow for human error. Suisham is perfect in Pitt for a reason. Ownership won't run him out of town if he misses a FG. His teammates won't turn on him. There was a time where everyone wanted to play in Washington. Now people come here to collect the paycheck they earned doing well for another team on their way to still another team. Snyder has produced an environment that's all about getting the money, not about winning football games. Class people like Hunter Smith are a dime a dozen to Snyder. He wants the big name, the showboating athlete. After 11 years you'd think he'd have learned a thing or two. What a shame.

Posted by: manwray | December 15, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Now when the new holder drops the snap and Gano whiffs(again!) on a FG or PAT attempt do we run the both of them out of town?

Posted by: dargregmag | December 15, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Hunter, you seem like a good guy, and smart to boot (punting pun not intended). I do think though that if your punting average were a few yards higher, you'd still be a Redskin, despite the missed PAT.

And manwray, loved your post, you hit the nail on the head. I also blame DC-area fans, for behaving so obnoxiously whenever one of our teams does badly -- fire this guy! fire that guy! fire somebody!! fire anybody!!

Posted by: spunkydawg1 | December 15, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Hunter may have botched the hold, but he nailed the Skins. The Skins have treated people like commodities for the entire Snyder regime; commodities have no loyalty. How many games have the Skins lost in the final minutes? Coincidence? I think not.

Posted by: dannykurland1 | December 15, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Hunter Smith is a cool dude but don't forget he was at or very near the bottom in terms of his primary role, punter. He would have been replaced regardless.

Posted by: nativedc | December 15, 2010 5:09 PM | Report abuse

He'll be back. They cut last year and he was the first call after Bidwell was cut. So yeah Hunter the Punter will be back.

Posted by: tundey | December 15, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

This guy is my new role model and he's half my age! How refreshing!

Posted by: rjsciolino | December 16, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

This guy is my new role model and he's half my age! How refreshing!

Posted by: rjsciolino | December 16, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

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