Chargers long snapper Mike Windt made a bonehead play in the first week of the preseason, which made him the subject of a Raiders film session, which meant he was the subject of ridicule on this week’s episode of Hard Knocks. But Windt was only put in the position to make his mistake because of a mistake by the officials on the field.
Windt’s mistake was walking onto the field, with the specified kicking football he was about to snap, after the Chargers had been stopped on third down — except that the officials had made a mistake of their own, ruling that Chargers quarterback Cardale Jones had fumbled, and Cardinals linebacker Pete Robinson picked up the ball and ran it the other way for a touchdown. Windt cluelessly walked onto the field, directly into Robinson’s path, and when Windt realized what he had done he dropped the ball, so there were two footballs on the field.
The officials ruled it a touchdown for the Cardinals, and also penalized Windt. The referee made this announcement: “The ruling on the field is that the quarterback fumbled the ball, it was recovered by Arizona, and returned for a touchdown. In the process of the return, unsportsmanlike conduct on Los Angeles Chargers number 47 for being on the field with the football.”
Raiders coach Jon Gruden used the play in a Raiders team meeting, to uproarious laughter from the players.
“Everybody stay in the game, pay attention. We can’t have this happening,” Gruden said, as shown on Hard Knocks. “The long snapper for the Chargers, all he thought was, he thought it was gonna be fourth down, so he comes out on the field with the ball. I mean, he’s out on the field. . . . Now, if this happens to you, don’t throw the ball. These god dang long snappers.”
So Windt was the subject of mockery, but there was one problem: Replays showed that Jones was down before he lost the ball. On review, the play was reversed. It actually was fourth down, and Windt actually was supposed to walk onto the field with the ball. If the officials had called it correctly on the field, Windt never would have been mocked on television.
To add insult to injury, Windt was cut by the Chargers on Tuesday, the same day he was mocked on Hard Knocks.