22-year-old linebacker Joseph Ossai was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. He missed his entire rookie season in 2021 after suffering a meniscus injury in the second preseason game.
After playing in all 16 games for the Bengals in 2022, Ossai was having a pretty good postseason and was about to finish one of his best games of the year with a season-high five tackles, a tackle for loss, a pass defensed, a quarterback pressure, and a QB knockdown, against the Chiefs on Sunday.
Then, with 8 seconds left in the AFC Championship Game, he made a critical mistake that will haunt him for the rest of his life.
By committing a 15 yard unnecessary roughness penalty, the Kansas City Chiefs were able to kick a 45 yard field goal and secure a spot in Super Bowl LVII.
After the game, fans and even at least one teammate, couldn’t believe the mistake Joseph Ossai had made when the Bengals were so close to getting another chance to go to the Super Bowl.
Thankfully for him, other teammates like veteran defensive tackle B.J. Hill stood by his side and supported him as he suffered emotionally with the results of his mistake.
And unlike the classless politician from the state of Missouri who thought it was a great idea to stand up in front of the U.S. House of Representatives and pile on Joseph Ossai, most NFL fans, even those who root for the Chiefs, also had his back.
I’m so confused, is this the Joseph Ossai we’re mad at? The one that “lost”the Bengals the game??? #WhoDey @Bengals #AchoAnswers pic.twitter.com/b25FxlhrWn
— Emmanuel Acho (@EmmanuelAcho) January 30, 2023
my heart is heavy for Joseph Ossai. he’s 22 years old & put his whole being into winning this game but arrived at the biggest moment of his life one second too slow. if you raged, gloated or said “how could he” think if this was your son, brother or friend.pic.twitter.com/W6YFGUrVNO
— Jesse Washington (@jessewashington) January 30, 2023
I watched the @Bengals game last night & was heartbroken bc I knew how it would hurt Joseph Ossai.
But my new favorite NFL player is BJ Hill, who stood next to Joseph & deflected unfair questions. What a teammate, role model & testament to the culture Coach Taylor has built!
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) January 30, 2023
I see we’re speaking on Joseph Ossai’s character so I thought I’d add my take. He was the first NFL player I’ve ever interviewed, and one of my favorites. Taking the time to s/o me as a small reporter speaks volumes on what kind of person he is. Hope he keeps his head up🧡 pic.twitter.com/BtvtdGBNkc
— Serenity Douglas (@_serenityd) January 30, 2023
On Wednesday, there was more good news out the Joseph Ossai camp.
His sister Peace Ossai tweeted out a thank you message for all of the people who rushed to show him that one mistake, no matter how big, does not mean they don’t still support him.
“My family and most especially @joseph_ossai appreciates all the love, support, prayers, and kind messages!!” Peace tweeted. “Y’all’s kindness overshadowed the negativity, and I’m personally thankful to y’all for showing that support to him!!”
Joseph is a hugely important part of the Bengals present and future. I am incredibly thankful for the relentless effort he displayed in the AFC Championship game. THAT is what I will remember. Make sure he knows how valued he is and that we’ve got his back.
— Brian (@BrianCinBengals) February 1, 2023
I’m a chiefs fan-I felt so bad for @joseph ossai The loss wasn’t his fault-there were mistakes on both sides. Both teams fierce competitors. Good Luck in the future-you are an awesome player!❤️
— debbie adler (@debbieadler51) February 1, 2023
I am in Missouri; watched that game, and it absolutely broke this mama’s heart when I saw him on that bench. I hope he has forgiven himself and can move on from it. It could have happened to anyone. At the end of the day, #itisjustagame
— MamaD (@luvmy3brats92) February 1, 2023