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Can anyone truly understand Scott Norwood? One kicker might come close, and his heart breaks for him

Scott Norwood stayed away from football after the Buffalo Bills cut him 24 years ago.

Despite his absence, he maintains a powerful presence among the kicking fraternity.

"I've never met Scott," 14-year kicker Jay Feely said, "but I think about him a lot."

Norwood's unsuccessful kick at the end of Super Bowl 25 is cemented in NFL history. Sunday's edition of The Buffalo News spotlights Norwood's attempt to rejoin his Bills family and not feel guilty about it.

The infamous miss, former Bills special teams coach Bruce DeHaven said, left a deep wound in Norwood's life

"I just want him to be happy," DeHaven said Wednesday from the Carolina Panthers' offices. "He's got a great family. He had a great career.

"He was a good kicker. He got us into the playoffs. I hate it that people think of him as some punch line."

Feely knows all about ridicule. While he can't sympathize with missing a pivotal kick in the Super Bowl, he can tell you what it feels like to have "Saturday Night Live" concoct a sketch off the worst day of your career.

In November 2005, with home-field advantage in the playoffs significant for his New York Giants, Feely missed a 40-yard attempt as time expired and a 54-yarder and a 45-yarder in overtime. The Seattle Seahawks won in overtime.

The next weekend, comedian Dane Cook played the lead role in a faux NFL Films feature, "The Long Ride Home: The Jay Feely Story."

The Giants fly back from Seattle, and the pilot passes out. To win over his teammates, Feely tries to save the day by claiming to have a pilot's license. He must land the plane between two radio towers. He splits the uprights then taxis off the runaway and into the water.

"I've always felt for Scott because my biggest failure ended up being my greatest moment," Feely said Friday by phone from Phoenix. "It helped me be a much better kicker. My numbers after 'Saturday Night Live' were about five percentage points better than before.

"I failed as bad as I could fail, and it didn't break me. It got to the point where I didn't fear failure as much. I wish for Scott he could have gotten to that point where he could move forward."

Feely kicked nine more seasons for five teams. Norwood was cut a year after his Super Bowl miss and never got a chance to kick anywhere else. Norwood and Green Bay Packers kicker Don Chandler are the only players to make their final field-goal attempts in a Super Bowl.

Norwood in 1988 was an All-Pro and led the NFL in scoring. That season, he helped the Bills win five games by three points or fewer, including each of the first three.

"It breaks my heart," Feely said of Norwood being removed from football. "I would want him to celebrate his career, to be proud of the fact he was good enough to kick in two Super Bowls and have a job only 28 people in the world could do at the time. That's special, whether you do it for a year or 20 years.

"Makes, misses, success, failures, you did something so few people could do. Think of all the great players who never got to be in a Super Bowl."

Feely this week will speak at an Air Force Academy leadership conference. His presentation will include the "Saturday Night Live" skit. He will use it illustrate overcoming failure and daring to be great.

Norwood, meanwhile, begrudgingly will autograph photos of his missed Super Bowl kick. Norwood hasn't accepted his infamous moment like Feely has incorporated his big joke.

"To be truly elite, you have to be willing to share your scars," Feely said. "I'm going to show my worst moment and tell them 'You're going to fail if you want to do something great. Failure is OK. It shouldn't defeat you.'

"Too many people fear failure, so they don't put themselves on the line. Kickers will think in the backs of their minds, 'I can be Adam Vinatieri and win it all and be the hero, or I can be Scott Norwood and be the goat of all-time.

"That's the dichotomy of that position, but you have to love that. You have to embrace that. You can't hide from it. You can't pretend it's not there."

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