Kyle Williams and Billy Cundiff go back to school: Another work of complete and total fiction

Professor Buckner stands at the head of the classroom as his students file in.  The school bell rings, papers shuffle, pencils get sharpened, class is ready to begin.

“Class is now in session, gentlemen.  Welcome to Psychology and Self-Preservation 101 – Overcoming the Choke Label and Finding the Path to Forgiveness.  I am your professor, Bill Buckner.”

“Good morning, Mr. Buckner” shouts the class.

“Class,” continues the mustached man up front. “I’d like to welcome our two newest students, Mr. William Cundiff from Baltimore and of course you know Mr. Kyle Williams from San Francisco.  They’ll be sitting in with us for the rest of the semester.”

“Oi, William!!!  Oi, Kyle!!!” grunt the older classmates as if they were seasoned members of a local Rotary.

Williams and Cundiff nod their heads in response, uneasy about being in this class to begin with.  They each secretly pray not to become lifers like so many in the room.

“Before we begin, gentlemen, I’d like to take roll call.  1992 Oilers?”


“Earnest Byner?”


“Chris Webber?”


“Dan O’Brien?”

“Over here.”

“Mitch Williams?”

“I’m here, man.”

“Greg Norman?”

“Here, mate.”

“Jean Van de Velde?”


“Mr. Norwood?”

“Wide right here.”

The class chuckles.

“Steve Bartman?”

No answer.


“Still haven’t seen him, teach.  It’s been a while.  Ya’ know, with the persistent death threats and all,” answers Norwood.

“I hear he had facial reconstructive surgery!” cackles O’Brien.  The class laughs out loud.  Williams and Cundiff gulp nervously.

“Fair enough, class, let’s begin.  What, if anything, have we learned so far this semester that we can teach our new classmates?”

The class answers in unison. “It wasn’t our fault!  These things happen!  We’re lucky to be in the position we’re in to begin with!  Forgiveness lies first within oneself, then within others!  Only when we begin to forgive ourselves can we seek forgiveness elsewhere!”

“Very good, class,” commends Buckner.  “Mr. Williams, Mr. Cundiff.  What have you two learned in the last forty-eight to seventy-two hours?  And remember, you’re among friends here.  Please feel free to speak openly.”

“Well, sir,” begins Williams.

“Please, son, call me Bill.”

“Bill?  I just learned that fans can sometimes be a little unfair, but that’s only because they care so much, sir… I mean, Bill.  I can’t fault them for that.  I mean, they’re the reason we all are in the position we’re in, good and bad.  Another chance will come for me one day, a chance at redemption.  I know it’s how I perform in that moment of truth that will define my legacy.”

“Well said, Mr. Williams.  I can already see you have a leg up on the rest of the class.  Class?  What do we think about young Kyle’s mindset?”

Silence once again sets over the classroom.

“Class?” asks Professor Buckner.

“That it’s good?” murmurs Webber from the back of the room.

“Correct, class.  That it’s good.  Again, remember our mantra about forgiveness.  We must first find it within ourselves.  Do any of our seniors have anything they’d like to share with our new classmates?”

“Yeah, don’t go out in public!” quips one of the Oilers.  The crowd laughs uneasily.  Bartman’s conspicuous absence makes the comment all too real.

“What we try to learn here, gentlemen, aside from the importance of forgiveness, is the very essence of human nature.  Why do fans delve so deeply into sports?  Why do they become so rabid, so involved, that they become irrational, even violent, when a person they’ve never met before, affects them in a way they claim alters the course of their lives?  That’s the wisdom we seek within these walls.  When we seek forgiveness from strangers, we must ask ourselves why it is that we are doing so.  It took me years to find that peace.  Your journeys, Mr. Williams and Mr. Cundiff, begin today.”

The bell sounds.  Lunch time.  The Oilers quickly find the classroom door, battling to be first in line at the cafeteria.  Van de Velde and Norman grab their things and head to the driving range.  Williams and Webber gather their belongings and follow suit out the door.

Norwood places an apple on the teacher’s desk before leaving.

“Any questions, gentlemen?” asks Professor Buckner one last time.

“No, I think we’re good,” respond both Cundiff and young Kyle.

“It’s a long road back but knowing you’re not alone in this process will help you through the difficult times.  Stronger men have been there before and survived.  Others have failed.  The path you choose is up to you.”

“Thank you, professor.  We look forward to the challenge.”

The three walked out of the room and shut the door behind them.

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29 Replies to “Kyle Williams and Billy Cundiff go back to school: Another work of complete and total fiction”

  1. Pingback: Professor Buckner stands at th … - BallHyped, NFL | BallHyped Sports Blogs

  2. Chris

    Remember not so long ago in Maryland after the ‘melo fallout with the T-shirt ’bout not snitching ? Well with Cundiff it’s about “not whiffing” ……… and then some ! Apparently orthopedic surgeons and oncologists would like to amputate his right leg to see if there’s anything wrong .

    As for Kyle Williams well let’s just say that on the day of the game gangs from the local San Fran’ chapters of the Cripps , Bloods and Las Malas Noches Trieze had nothing better to do (death threats) , having seen their bets go up in smoke after the player’s major mistake .

    Are some of the Bucs’ fans that anally retentive with their notion that Eddie DeBartolo will come in like a white knight to buy the take the team off the Glazers’ hands ? DeBartolo having been convicted of a major felony (grand larceny , perjury and bribery and corruption) by the Feds won’t be able to be involved in the NFL an an owner in any capacity .

    tophatal ………..

  3. A fantasmalicious piece of prose to be sure, Chris. Were any chemicals involved in it’s creation? I’d sure like to try ’em 🙂

  4. That’s a good one Rev. Although it does make me question our collective evolution when grown men can be provoked to violence over something as frivolous as sports.

  5. First of all, Al, Cundiff shouldn’t be taking the blame for that loss. If Lee Evans catches that ball in the end zone, we’re not even having this conversation.

    Were Williams’ plays bone-headed? Sure. Rookie mistake to get that close to a bouncing ball you have no intention of catching. But worth killing over? I think you and I would both agree that’s a little far-fetched.

    I agree that DeBartolo, with his record, might not be the answer but so many fans want the Glazers out. I guess they’re just looking back to the success E.D. had in his San Francisco guys.

    And the Bucs finally made their splash, Al. Greg Schiano. Your thoughts?

  6. Thank you, Yaz.

    These days I’m drug free by choice, and by choice, I mean lack of availability.

    That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    But glad you enjoyed.

  7. Aer…

    Three words: Central American soccer.

    Look, I’m as rabid a fan as the guy in the seat next to me but that doesn’t mean I want to kick his ass for rooting for the opposite team.

  8. I felt bad for Kyle Williams until I found out he is White Sox GM Kenny Williams’ son.

    I HATE Kenny Willams.

  9. Agreed- if Evans would have caught that ball, there’d be no discussion and I’d be a much happier camper looking towards Super Bowl Sunday… I honestly still think that was a blasted catch!!! Guess Evans needs to be invited to Prof Buckner’s class? And Yaz using ‘fantasmalicious”? How extremely Awesome! Well, it is well deserved. I sure enjoyed this, too, and you are worthy of blog of the year oh, Super Cool Supreme Champion Sports Chump!!
    Dee Dee 🙂

  10. Great piece of writing. Even gotta a few chuckles along the way. You musta been inspired by the Bucs signing Schiano.

    Back to Schiano. Remember in high school or early college when the foxy chick was gonna hop in your car only to get a last minute offer from some other guy(hotter car)? Mega Benjys will make Schiano forget Chip Kelly’s name. It won’t make the recruits to Rutgers for Feb 1st, National Letter of Intent Day forget the promises of granduer he sold them. Greg is on his way with Glazer cash to the B of A.

  11. RB, thank you for the kind words, sir.

    I do commend the Glazers on being rather sneaky throughout the whole coaching search. Lips were sealed shut.

    With names like Sherman and Schottenheimer flying around, nobody here knew they were looking at both Kelly and Schiano.

    All we knew locally was that a) they needed to make a splash with their hire, which they did and b) whoever they hired was not going to come on the cheap.

    I’m okay with the hire. He’s a college coach coming into a young roster.

    The Glazers have obviously decided to mix it up a bit. We’ll see if the move pans out.

  12. Chris

    A good hire by the Bucs concerning Schiano but let’s see how things pan out a year from now. How does this sit with you now concerning the Bucs and the money they’re now paying out ? $5 million to Gruden , $2 million to Rah and now who knows what they will end up paying Greg Schiano . But yet Mark Dominik the lazy a#s Glazers couldn’t dig deep and bolster the roster last season .

    So Irsay is now criticizing Peyton Manning and saying that he should keep his personal thoughts to himself concerning the unrest inside the Colts’ organization . Now don’t get me wrong I can understand where Manning is coming from but what the ##ck is up with Jim Irsay ? Is he that dumb to think that with the idiocy that has gone concerning the Colts he’s without blame ? Your thought . I know that they have hired Chuck Pagano to succeed Caldwell but that too may come back to bite them in the proverbial a#s !

    Kudos to the Magic on blowing a 21 point lead in their loss b> to the Celtics ! Was it really worth TNT’s while to televise the game ?

    tophatal ………………

  13. I am still in a slow burn mode over how the 49ers managed to lose and of course the afore-mentioned Mr. Williams is a key figure among my ashes. Mr. Cundiff also had quite a moment to remember. I’ll get myself together eventually. Maybe that’s why they give us all two weeks before the Super Bowl.

  14. Fan is short for fanatic. A reality that is evident at each and every Raiders game. Every franchise has its share of loons and the poor saps like the ones in your piece of pulp fiction here get to incur their wrath when they expose themselves as human and make a mistake.
    Making fun of them is one thing, actual violence or threats thereof are hard to fathom over a game.
    The rollercoaster of emotions of sports is what makes it so enthralling, but there’s got to be a cutoff point…and it ain’t at the offending parties neck.

    Losing sucks, living with the aftermath of flubs of this magnatude sucks even worse. Getting reminded of it for the rest of your living days…Priceless.

  15. Al…

    Nice to hear you behind the Schiano hire. I thought they were done paying that money to Gruden. Are you sure about that? He’s already been gone three years. How long did that damn contract last?

    This Irsay-Manning thing is getting juicy, while the whole irony lies in the fact that we don’t even know whether Manning will ever to be able to play again.

    And the Magic, Al? This is going to end badly for them as well, just as it did last night. Ultimately, Stan Van is going to have to take some heat for this. They were up by 21 at half night night and got punked in that quarter.

    Where’s the leadership on this team?

  16. SA….

    At least the future is bright for you guys, not that that will make you feel any better. In fact, it’s probably like pouring salt on the wound.

    I really liked the Giants in that game. Too much experience. If they can keep that roster relatively intact and prove in 2012 that 2011 was no fluke, then they should be just fine.

    And of course, expect questions about Alex Smith to persist.

  17. Bleed…

    I think Buckner’s case is probably the most interesting. Not only did he get blamed for the loss in ’86 World Series loss when it really wasn’t his fault, but he and his family were essentially ostracized. The fact that the Red Sox hadn’t won a World Series in eighty-six years just made matters worse.

    It took two Red Sox World Series wins to exorcise those demons and have fans finally forgive Buckner for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    Besides, any real Red Sox fan knows that whole thing was actually Calvin Schiraldi’s loss, not Bill Buckner’s.

  18. Poor Billy boy.
    He was a decent player. Even won a NL batting title in 1980 with the Cubs.

    Too bad all anyone remembers him for is that hole in his glove in 86. Just the mention of the name Mookie or Wilson must give him nightmares. I bet he never made it through the movie Cast Away.

    I wonder if the term “Buckner” is in the dictionary for someone who chokes. I know it is with me and my buddies.

  19. Chris,

    In response to:

    @Are there any potential classmates I forgot?

    If we’re going to list all possible classmates, Buckner’s class would be full… A player that comes to mind would be Nick Anderson from the Orlando Magic (missed 4 consecutive free throws in the 1995 Finals) giving Houston a chance to tie the game and they did. Hakeem the “Dream” and the Rockets end up winning the game.

  20. Chris

    End of this year with the Bucs who will end paying Gruden . As for the Schiano hire it was either that or heading to a tire store for a retread .

    Nice to see the Magic holding true to form in terms of the play . Any worse and they will be taking a leaf out of both Rick Perry’s and Herman Cain’s book and calling it quits !

    tophatal ………………..

  21. BS…

    You didn’t just say Nick Anderson, did you?

    I was at that Finals Game One, where me missed the first two free throws, up three, got his own rebound, and then missed the next two.

    It’s amazing I still like Kenny Smith.

    I think you just gave me convulsions.

    Nice work, bra.

  22. Al…

    The Magic are horrible, Dwight’s whining is getting louder, Stan Van Gundy’s seat is getting hotter and stay tuned. I should have a Schiano piece up soon.

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