Most of the time we can just shrug it off -- wave the offended party away with a smile, tell anyone who cares (and usually few others do) that it was your fault.
There are those special times, though, when a raised hand and a "my bad" kind of gesture don't quite cut it. Your error in judgment -- your physical and/or mental letdown -- has resulted in something more serious. You ding somebody's car. You spill something that makes a stain. You wreck a cup of coffee.
Or ... you give up what many people are calling the softest, weakest goal -- and the biggest keeper misplay -- on a very meaningful stage, with tens of millions of people watching, in your country's most popular sport, in the world's biggest event. And it costs your team a victory.
You are Robert Green. And it's likely that no matter what you do for the rest of your life, the defining moment -- the thing people will remember you for immediately when they recognize your name -- is a ball that tumbled out of your hands and into the net. You have joined the likes of Bill Buckner and Steve Bartman in notorious instant name recognition. We can't imagine what this is like.
Because, you see, while we don't have anything close to a Robert Green moment tucked into our lifetime file, we still do think from time to time about a specific sports failure. We were 12 years old, playing in a regional baseball tournament in Kansas. Pitching earlier in the game, we had allowed a home run to break a 1-1 tie. Later, in the last inning, our team still trailed 3-2. Leading off the inning and desperate to atone for the home run, we swung wildly at a pitch out of the strike zone and popped up on a three-ball count. Instead of a walk that could have led to the tying run, we were out. And our team lost 3-2. It's not like we think about this all the time. But the memory is still clear.
If, more than 20 years later, we still remember that ... how does Green get past not only a failure at his position, but also the memories of the soccer-mad millions who will constantly remind him of it? It's bad enough when it's only in your head.
Your thoughts -- as well as your Robert Green moments -- welcomed in the comments.