Is he one of Barbara Walters’ Most Fascinating People of 2011? In fact he is not, but I think he should be.
Is he recognized as the Ghandi of his sport, so altruistic and giving that we should revere this man for more than just the athlete he is? Currently, no. But if I have my way, definitely.
Alejandro Maldonado is not yet a saint, but I would like to nominate him for sainthood, if I may. Sure, he may not play the role of your typical saint. He has not saved an entire people. He has not proven to be more than human. He has not gone on a hunger strike, or quelled a jihad, or even negotiated for world peace. But you know what Maldonado has done for all of us? He has made so, so many people happy. Just…happy. And damn it, we need more of that. We can’t get enough of that. If everyone were more like Alejandro Maldonado — nay, Saint Alejandro Maldonaldo — we’d all be better off.
For those of you who are lost on the legend of Saint Maldonado, allow me to recount the tale of his greatness.
Maldonado, once just your average placekicker for the Oregon Ducks football program, etched his name in history when he viciously shanked a game-tying kick on the evening of November 19, 2011 against the University of Southern California Trojans. With an opportunity at victory awaiting his team in overtime, Maldonado closed out regulation by booting a 37-yard field goal attempt into the crisp night air, an attempt so wayward that it dramatically sailed wide left of the goalposts at Oregon’s Autzen Stadium.
In a moment of sheer, unadulterated selflessness, Maldonado sacrificed his own well-being — as well as that of his team — for the welfare of millions of individuals the world around. Had he delivered the kick straight and true, a handful of green-and-gold clad faithful may have celebrated the achievement. In undertaking his course of action, however, Maldonado opted not to please a few, but rather send shockwaves of joy from sea to shining sea. “Oregon lost!” we cried. “All hail Saint Maldonado, savior of humankind, Samaritan of goodness.”
For the time being, Maldonado became the anti-Tim Tebow. No, dear lord, winning is not necessary to propagate your name. Alejandro Maldonado has proven this, and in Alejandro Maldonado we place our faith. In fact, it is losing that spreads the gospel. Losing, not winning, is what millions upon billions of human beings can relate to. We all lose. We all suffer defeat. When others suffer defeat for our entertainment, that is when we rejoice. Because only so many people can win. And only so many people can revel in the glory of victory. But losing? So many more of us can celebrate on the heels of a loss.
Amidst the magnitude of his charitable act, we must not overlook the way in which Saint Maldonado became our favorite, present-day martyr. Video replay reveals a period of roughly three-to-five seconds in which the five-foot-ten-inch Goliath-hearted Colton, Calif. native blasted the football from the ground up, briefly watched its flight, grabbed his helmet as if to say “AAAAAHHHHH,” then turned and sprinted off the field with remarkable aplomb.
Some men who had given so greatly of themselves might stay and linger with their heads down, waiting to be consoled by teammates — lesser individuals that they are — but not Maldonado. In under one minute, he performed his sacrificial act and marched off into the proverbial sunset, destined to take his legacy elsewhere for the night. Where, we do not know. By the speed of his deliverance and the hastiness of his departure, however, we can only assume that our divine friend was off to catch a 10:00 p.m. showing of the newest Twilight film. One can hardly fathom the quality of company in the young man’s possession on this particular evening. Team Jacob? Team Edward? Don’t be naive. Any starry-eyed coed looking to make a good impression on her date would be fully consumed by Team Alejandro. And for that, we cannot blame her.
More than flesh and blood, Alejandro Maldonado is ingrained in immortality. As football fans rise from their beds (or in some cases, front lawns, couches, bathroom floors, or otherwise) on this Sunday morning, they do so with grins plastered to their faces. Word has spread, news has traveled far and wide. From a cult of vile Duckishness we are liberated. Smile, friends, for mighty Oregon has faltered.
And to one man, one holy conquistador of freedom, we pledge our gratitude. In Saint Maldonado’s name we pray. Amen.