February 03, 2003

Perhaps Peyton Manning isn't so mild-mannered after all: "I'm out at my third Pro Bowl, I'm about to go in and throw a touchdown to Jerry Rice, we're honoring the Hall of Fame, and we're talking about our idiot kicker who got liquored up and ran his mouth off. When I get home, I'll deal with it. If he is still a teammate, we'll deal with it. That remains to be seen."

posted by rcade to football at 11:58 AM - 14 comments

Dear Peytie Pie: Before you run off Mike Vanderjagt, the most accurate kicker in NFL history and one of the 10 highest players on the Colts, maybe you should win a playoff game.

posted by rcade at 12:01 PM on February 03, 2003

I think there is an interesting dynamic at play, which has less to do with the Colt's family, Peyton's submissiveness, or Vaderjagt's drinking, and it's about kickers in general. Mark Malone and a few other talking heads went out of their way to vilify Vanderjagt, basically implying that a kicker, no matter how good, even if he wins you the Super Bowl a la Adam Vinatieri doesn't have the right to speak up for or about the team. I can see one side of this, which is that all the other guys on the team are basically going to war, banging hats against other guys for 20, 30, 50 plays a game while kickers have it pretty easy. But the fact of the matter is kickers didn't invent the rules so that they would have jobs. There is a demand for kickers, and kickers are often (usually) the highest scoring players on their team. They also have as much pressure on them as any other, if not more at times. I like Vanderjagt. He's a good kicker, he is obviously competitive, and he made the mistake thousands of players before him have made - aired dirty laundry in public. But because he's one of those dreaded kickers, he is expected to be seen and not heard, and that's why this is turning into a big deal. If you want to diss on kickers, or say they're not part of your team, then it's time to lobby for rules changes - no more punts, mandatory two-point conversions, and opposing team starts at their own twenty after scores. Special teams plays are way too much fun to watch to even consider that.

posted by vito90 at 12:16 PM on February 03, 2003

Well said, Vito. On ESPN, former lineman Mark Schlereth went on about "I don't pretend that I can kick a 60-yard field goal; he shouldn't pretend he's a football player." Well, Mark, you don't pretend that you can cover anyone or throw the ball 60 yards, either. Everyone's got their roles. Sure, kickers aren't out banging hats, but then neither did Deion. And there's a lot more pressure on a kicker than on the average, say, OL--the kicker is expected to make everything inside fifty yards. Apart from Vinatieri's heroics, there's rarely any upside, only down. Vanderjagt should have known better, that's for sure. But hey, apparently he wants to win. At least he wasn't bitching about money, or getting arrested, or having his ass handed to him by the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets.

posted by Mookieproof at 12:31 PM on February 03, 2003

The football world toys with the kicker gods at their peril. Vanderjagt's one of the best to ever play the game; he has so much leg it dictates coaching decisions about field position. Tom Coughlin dealt with his own outspoken kicker, Mike Hollis, by letting him go before last season. He couldn't find a reliable replacement all year, losing some close games where Hollis might have been the difference, and now Coughlin's out of a job. If Manning and the Colts want to kick Vanderjagt to the curb for a few ill-considered remarks motivated by his desire to win, I hope it comes back to kick them in the ass.

posted by rcade at 01:17 PM on February 03, 2003

Well, let's not forget that Vanderjagt is set to make quite a bit of $$ this coming season, and the Colts aren't in the best of salary cap situations. They did bring in Brett "Constant Injury" Conway, but no telling how much competition that will actually be (if it even gets to the competition stage). Personally, I hope he does get cut, and goes to my Jags, and gets to beat his old team twice a season!!

posted by bcb2k2 at 02:15 PM on February 03, 2003

one of the 10 highest players on the Colts Source?

posted by yerfatma at 02:32 PM on February 03, 2003

It bothers me that the truth of his comments gets lost in the anti-kicker sentiment this has brought up. Kickers have a different job, that's for sure. But they are just as important to winning football games, and he's there and knows what goes on, and that he doesn't tackle or get tackled does not diminish his credibility. If Edgerrin James said what Vanderjagt said, you bet people would have listened, and more people would have noticed that he's right. I've love to see the Colts trade him elsewhere then see him beat them in the Playoffs. I am really disliking Manning lately, especially after his comments. I have nothing against Dungy but I do agree that unless he starts getting more fired up in the playoffs he's going to lose every game he ever coaches in January.

posted by Bernreuther at 03:08 PM on February 03, 2003

Yerfatma: Vanderjagt is scheduled to make $1.4 million in 2003. According to ColtPower.Com , only nine other Colts are in line to make more.

posted by rcade at 03:21 PM on February 03, 2003

Let's face it, being a kicker and running your mouth is like being 5'5" (and not like Earl Boykins 5'5", like Joe Pesci 5'5") and wearing a Vince Carter jersey to the Y for that Sunday morning pick-up game. After everyone stops laughing you're going to take an endless ration of shit - no matter how good you may be. And Vanderjagt is good. Very. And as such will probably be cut some slack, but he's going to get a much deserved blistering, publicly and privately. Cutting him loose would undoubtedly be a mistake, but guys have been shown the door for less (inset personal testimony from Tony Dungy here). Now personally, I'd like to see him kick for a few more years before he's anointed "one of the best ever to play the game". But clearly he is precocious: On the Colts website it says he, "Originally signed as a quarterback at Michigan St. in 1979." And he was only nine years old at the time!

posted by kloeprich at 04:00 PM on February 03, 2003

rcade: That's ok. It was the missing word ("piad") that made me pull that out.

posted by yerfatma at 06:22 PM on February 03, 2003

Oops! An epidemic of marijuana smoking might explain the Colts lethargy in the playoffs (and the mellowness of their coach).

posted by rcade at 09:05 PM on February 03, 2003

While linemen and backs play most of the game, mentally, the kicker's game is tougher. The kickers sit on the sideline for 90-95% of the game, come in at a high pressure situation and not make mistakes. If the kicking screws up once or twice in a game (cough...Giants...cough), you notice more than a single missed block or dropped pass.

posted by andrewraff at 09:15 PM on February 03, 2003

Vanderjagt is one of the best kickers in the game. I could only pray that he gets dropped and the Niners pick him up. I'd have to agree with Bernreuther that if Edgerrin James said it, it would be a totally different story. It would be very nice to see another Colts player (preferably a high profile one... come on Marvin!) stand up for Vanderjagt, but I doubt that would happen.

posted by swank6 at 10:35 PM on February 03, 2003

This has nothing to with kickers/non-kickers. It's a matter of what you believe is in the best interest of the team. I choose to believe that Vanderjagt is sick of losing mainly because a large number of his high-profile teammates have no guts, and he let it out intentionally. That would 1) probably force the Colts to let him go or 2) make the pansies nut up. I'm not for going to the media to make things happen in the locker room, but if you played for Indy, would you think you had any choice?

posted by wfrazerjr at 02:44 PM on February 06, 2003

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