“You can’t fault Trey,” said Fassel, who lost his own job soon after. “I remember he said it cost us the Super Bowl, but I don’t want him to feel that way. To let a team come from behind like that, they get a lot of help. And the referee was clearly wrong, so that part was hard to swallow.”
Yet Junkin repeated his version of events a day later in New York after cleaning out his locker. Among all his teammates, only Michael Strahan and Jeremy Shockey went out of their way to cushion the blow.
“Strahan said, `It wasn’t your fault. You didn’t play defense. You didn’t have a hand in giving back 24 points,’” Junkin recalled. “Shockey said something similar. And I talked to Kerry Collins about hunting, I think, but that was pretty much it. I talked to Jim a week later. He apologized, and said the same things Strahan and Shockey did. … I think I drank three nights straight after the game. I can only remember one of them.
“I was such a perfectionist. I thought if I did my job right, no one outside the game would even know who I was. And everybody that knows me was worried for a little bit after that because they know how neurotic I am _ or was _ about snapping. I had to know where every snap was caught by the punter or holder. I needed to know where the laces were, stuff like that, because those were the things I could control.
“But another thing I learned playing the game that long? That you win or lose based on how you play,” and here Junkin dragged out the words for emphasis, “as a team.”
“And if I had a wish, it’s that when this whole thing gets hashed over, people who remember that snap remember it’s one play out of an entire game,” he said.
Junkin plans to watch it _ without a notepad this once _ in the bar at a nearby resort casino. He and his wife made reservations to celebrate his 51st birthday over the weekend.
“I’m curious how many times they show my face. I never played football to have my name known. You can be pretty anonymous with a helmet on and I wanted to keep it that way. The funny thing is that was the only time I ever walked out of the tunnel and down the middle of the field. Taking it all in and thinking, `This is pretty damn cool.’ I’d never really appreciated where I was and what I was doing before then. Football was just a job to me.
“Look,” he added, “I hated talking about it then. I hate talking about it now. The snap was mine. I got over the fact of it, but the feeling of it I’ll never get over.
“The rest of it? I won’t name names or throw anybody under the bus, like some guys did to me on TV and radio. But somebody else needs to stand up.”
Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org. Follow him on Twitter.com/JimLitke.
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