Revisionist History: Gramatica’s Giant leap

Posted by Darren Urban on June 14, 2011 – 5:01 pm

The latest in a series of offseason posts looking back:

“And so it ends, not with a bang, but without a kicker.”

Whenever I think back to the infamous Bill Gramatica-blows-out-his-knee game, that’s the line I remember – the lead to the column of my co-worker at the time, Scott Bordow. The play itself – which came after Gramatica booted a 42-yard field goal and then celebrated in the first quarter in New York against the Giants – has become a punchline. It’s funny though, because I remember that game for so many reasons, and Gramatica was just one.

It was 2001, after all, and a Saturday game. The night before, just about three months after the 9/11 attacks, four of us – myself and Scott, and the Republic’s Pedro Gomez and Kent Somers – went to Ground Zero after a late dinner. It was jacket weather but remarkably warm for December, and I just remember the eerie glow of the artificial lights as workers (still going around the clock) cleared debris while a small part of one of the towers remained sticking in the air. Some windows on the surrounding buildings that stayed erect were still broken.

Then came the game the next day, when the 5-7 Cards were still breathing for a playoff spot and dominated the game – only to find themselves unable to score enough to win. That wasn’t helped by the early injury to Gramatica.

He wasn’t out for the game. That’s a false memory many have. He even somehow booted a 23-yard field goal after the injury. But he tried to kick off (pictured) and couldn’t, leading to another memory – Pat Tillman as emergency kickoff man (I tried to find video. Promise. Couldn’t.) and Tillman admitted he was “stoked” to get a chance to kick. (He wasn’t very good at it though. I’ll take Tim Hightower every time.)

The Cards got a miracle fourth-and-forever touchdown pass from Jake Plummer to tight end Tywan Mitchell to take the lead (After Mitchell made his improbable catch, TV reporter Lesley Visser, who was to do postgame, leaned over the very high row above us writers in the press box and yelled, “Who was that?” She had no idea who Mitchell was. Few did). But the Giants drove down and scored with 25 seconds left for a heartbreaking loss.

Afterward, the specter of the Gramatica injury hovered over everything.

Bill was not happy with the way the whole thing was covered. He and brother Martin had always taken grief about the way they jumped for joy over every single kick, so it was natural they got jabbed for it when it turned into an injury. A couple days later, Gramatica came to talk to a couple of beat writers, but I always sensed he was pretty ticked at the media.

He seemed to get past it the following training camp, when he was remarkably back to kick. He had booted game-winners against Oakland and San Diego the year before prior to the injury, and the next year, he did the same against Dallas and Carolina when the Cards got out to a 3-2 start. Everybody got injured on the Cards that season, however, including Gramatica (his back this time) and his time in Arizona faded quickly – early in the 2003 season, he was gone. It ended, not with a bang, but without a kicker (who is most famously known for a celebration gone wrong).

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Posted in Blog | 27 Comments »

27 Responses to “Revisionist History: Gramatica’s Giant leap”

  1. By brad oneill on Jun 14, 2011 | Reply

    If we have reached the point where we are recapping idiotic kicker injuries its time for the lockout to end.

    Next week on revisionist history “the Cardinal’s bad lunch, a red mascot elects for mustard instead of ketchup”

  2. By Darren Urban on Jun 14, 2011 | Reply

    Brad —

    RE: Posts

    Feel free to take a break from reading if it bothers you so much.

  3. By AndyStandsUp on Jun 14, 2011 | Reply

    Darren, I sure Brad’s entry was in jest.

    I love and read the “revisionist” stories, but it’s hard to comment on past history, when 1.) it was past history and it’s hard for me, at least, to remember specific moments in the Cards dismallity (yes, it’s a word I just made up), and 2.) you’ve said everything about the specific moment. EX. Was going to comment about Tillman being the backup K, but you had it stated.
    I know I’m in the minority and hopefully we’ll have something we ALL can talk about shortly. Please don’t take this as a negative opinion.

  4. By Darren Urban on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply

    AndyStands —

    RE: Brad/RH

    First, perhaps I caught the comment at the wrong time. I know he didn’t mean anything personally. Everyone needs to understand that I too am frustrated but I still have a job to do. I have to find something to write about. This is the way I have chosen to do it. Certainly Brad is a regular here and it’s not like I hate him now or something. He expressed his opinion. I expressed mine in the answer. The world keeps on spinnin’.

  5. By Jason on Jun 14, 2011 | Reply

    Keep em coming Darren.

  6. By Miles Johnson on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply

    Well darren, I just want to I’m enjoying these blogs, I mean not all the cardinals memories can’t be off the kurt warner time span. The gramatica leap will always be burned in my brain because I watched that game and i’ll I do was laugh( not saying i was glad he was hurt] I can’t wait for the next blog.

  7. By bluepitt on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply

    @ brad oneill You arethe only idiot that doesnt like the Vast History of some of our Cards, the amazing storys and the great games played, That leads me to believe you are a COWGIRLS fan at heart! So go back to COWGIRL country and let us enjoy D’s memories!

  8. By Andy on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply


    I’ve lived in New York City since 1998, and I have had countless conversations with Giants fans about the Cardinals. People forget that the
    St Louis/Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals had more than 30 years history with the NFC East. Regardless, I am constantly reminding Giants fans that Gramatica did not “knock himself out of the game with a broken leg”.

    Your “Revisionist History” articles have reminded me that each individual game meant so much more to me than that final Win/Loss record at the end of the season. (Compartmentalizing is the key to being a contented Cardinals fan) Remembering these moments still draws out the same emotions.

    I have enjoyed having something to read. I’ll take anything ya got.

  9. By maham on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply

    This has nothing to do with this blog, but…..

    I really want to see Skelton battle hard, no matter what free agents are brought in, for the starting job this year.

    Daren, you may have aired a link to this before, but this is a great Sports Science episode on Skelton before the draft last year:

  10. By Woody on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply


    Thanks for giving us fanatics something while this lockout continues. Some of us are like drug addicts going through withdrawls! I was one of the few that thought BG was out for the whole game. Thanks for clearing that up.

    The lone Georgia Cards Fan!

    brad oneill- I think Big Red is a Ketchup guy!


  11. By Brian on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply

    PERFECT response! lol! Keep up the great work Darren!

  12. By Wayne on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply

    I always liked the Gramatica’s. Who doesn’t celebrate after they score. I think the media treated him badly also. It was just a way for the media to take another jab at the Cardinals.
    Neil Rackers had his slide after a field goal. I wish more players are as enthusiastic as kickers are. I guess that is their mentality from the days of playing soccer. You score you celebrate.

  13. By Darren Urban on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply

    Wayne —

    RE: Kicker celebrations

    You may have noticed the Rackers slides dried up quickly in early 2007. That wasn’t something that worked for this coaching staff.

  14. By william on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply

    RE: politically correct STFU

    Wow! pretty cool to see the obligatory redundant smartass question get addressed so directly. Most times people are unwilling to do so.

    Then again most readers do not show their frustration for the lockout by attacking a person in a situation beyond their control.

    Either way, celebrating a first quarter kick is disingenuous at best. That makes it hard to feel bad for the guy. Also I might be wrong but I recall a pre-game comedy bit that teased both the brothers about their celebrations before that very game. I want to say is was Frank Caliendo on Fox.

    Thanks for the laugh Darren. I hope there is more to write about soon.

  15. By Darren Urban on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply

    William —

    RE: Pre-game

    Back then, in 2001, was well before Caliendo hit the FOX big-time.

  16. By brad oneill on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply

    Darren- I was just trying to be funny, looks like I missed again.

    Your revisionist history is a good series and I. Look forward to more of them. It is ridiculous that you are not allowed to talk to playerss is there anyone in the world that doesn’t think the nfl network isn’t owned by the league?

    I would love for you to be able to talk to beanie and tim about the draft, or darrel washington about the next step, or skelton about his progress on the playbook, if there is a way to appeal your restriction please do it.

    You are the only guy left working for the fans and I am glad to have you to kick around.

    Remember when we complain to you its only because you are the only one who responds. Keep up the great work.

  17. By Darren Urban on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply

    Brad —

    RE: Answer

    Sorry. When I saw your comment, it was late, I was grumpy, and it just struck me wrong. I should know better with you.

    Let’s just consider this collateral lockout damage and move on, shall we? 😉

  18. By Miles Johnson on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply

    in 2001 I think it was jimmy Kimmel doing what frank does if i’m correct.

  19. By william on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply

    RE- Comedian

    Did a quick google search. 2001 puts it at Jimmy Kimmel’s feet… If I’m right. It seemed really prophetic looking back after the game. I’m still really sure there was a bit just before the kick off addressing that issue directly. I want to say there were two little people dressed up as the brothers. He asked them so show him how they celebrate for “the game winning kick” and they hopped and jumped all around. He asked the same question about a kick to go up 3-0 in the first quarter. They did the same dance. He then picked against the cards based on the kicking game. Anyone else remember that?

  20. By Peter in Canada on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply

    Since you and Brad have kissed and made up,blaming the lock out for the temporary tiff, I would like to say this re the lock out. The other day I happened to catch the back end of a radio conversation. I didn’t get the guest expert’s name but in general he seemed pretty knowledgable. He stated that
    1. There will not be replacement players
    2. He expects that in July the players will start to put pressure on the union leaders to get a settlement
    3. He expects the union to really feel the heat and some time in August they will be back at work.

    I realize this is one person’s conjecture. What is your take?

  21. By Darren Urban on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply

    Peter —

    RE: Lockout

    The commissioner already said there won’t be replacement players. I never thought we’d get to that point anyway.

    It seems the latest momentum points to something being worked out in the first half of July. I certainly hope so. We will see.

  22. By AndyStandsUp on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply

    Awww, group hug!
    Well, except for you, Casey and you, Trigidy.

  23. By Darren Urban on Jun 15, 2011 | Reply

    AndyStands —

    RE: Group Hug

    Wow, you reached deep into the commenters hall of fame for those names.

  24. By Marlon Skrusinski on Jun 16, 2011 | Reply

    Darren –

    Can I suggest something? I would like to see on this revisionist series something related to the draft day of some of the Cards veteran players, like Darnell Dockett, A-Dub, Fitzgerald and so.

    Besides that, thanks for always coming up with something for us to read, specially on this days.

  25. By Darren Urban on Jun 16, 2011 | Reply

    Marlon —

    RE: RH ideas

    Thanks. That sounds like a good idea.

  26. By Scott H on Jun 16, 2011 | Reply

    As a Cardinals fan, I can’t help cringing when the name Bill Grammatica comes up…because NO ONE ever passes up the opportunity to bust your stones over it. Thanks, Bill…

  27. By cameron on Jun 17, 2011 | Reply

    this is why its hard to call kickers football players. well the gramatica type kickers. ones that will do more then kick like rackers and feely i like. he just reminded me of the kid with the helmet that no one wanted on their team but didnt have the heart to send him away.

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