Kickers are players too

Illustration+by+Austin+Cleveland.+Photo+courtesy+of+Wikipedia+under+the+Creative+Commons+License.
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Kickers are players too

Illustration by Austin Cleveland. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia under the Creative Commons License.

Illustration by Austin Cleveland. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia under the Creative Commons License.

Illustration by Austin Cleveland. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia under the Creative Commons License.

Illustration by Austin Cleveland. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia under the Creative Commons License.

Austin Cleveland, sports writer

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As the clock ticks down to single digits, the opposing team is ahead by two. Coach looks back at the bench, and searches for his kicker. After moving a few burly lineman out of the way, a scrawny soccer player with pads and helmet too big appears. Coach gives him the nod. The entirety of the game now rests on his shoulders. The game will be decided on a kick. Not a throw, run or catch. A kick. Kicking requires the least athleticism of any position in the sport of football. And that’s exactly why I love it.

Bizarre stats and situations make the mundane more exciting. Kicking is undoubtedly one of the more unpredictable situations in football. Think back to the ‘Kick Six’ of the 2013 Iron Bowl, a famous kicking (and coaching) fluke. Or to the 2018 season, where kicking failures resulted in two NFL ties only two weeks into the season. According to Pro Football Reference, there have never been more than two ties in an NFL season since overtime was instituted in 1974.

It’s always exciting to see the forgotten about get some spotlight. We’ve seen short kickers, husky kickers, kickers with glasses, kickers without shoes and even a kicker with only 1 ½ feet. We’ve even seen players who aren’t kickers kick. Amidst the rippling muscles and towering stature of the rest of football, kickers are the laughing stock. Laugh away, for Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski will enjoy his $4.3 million contract regardless of what you think.

Former NFL punter Pat McAfee embraces la vie de la kicker, combatting the media’s neglection of kickers and comments made against the viability of kickers as players.

In response, McAfee told “The Bob & Tom Show:

“A football player is a combination of things. It’s a guy who throws the ball, runs the ball, catches the ball, tackles and blocks. And out of those five things, I know from personal experience one guy who’s done damn near all of them on a football field, myself included,” McAfee said. “I’m getting paid by the National Football League to play football. I think that’s enough to be a football player.”

His highly entertaining showmanship on the field translated to a viral twitter account and now to a budding career in media, and a stab at being a stand-up comedian. McAfee worked with media company Barstool Sports, developing their “heartland” branch before moving on his own.