October 29, 2007

The Kick Is Up and Itís ... A Career Killer.: Michael Lewis explores the job of the NFL kicker (registration or Bugmenot req'd.):

A kicker in the N.F.L. can be one of two things: the bland technocrat who does what he's assigned to do but who, even when he's exceptionally good, must accept that the coach and the team will be credited for the victory. Or he can be the little choke artist who is very nearly entirely responsible for the loss. For a kicker in the N.F.L., . . . there is no upside.

posted by holden to football at 10:52 PM - 11 comments

Laces out Dan!...

posted by Tinman at 05:22 AM on October 30, 2007

Off the main room, on the other side of a wall, is a row of three more lockers, those of Vinatieri, Hunter Smith and Justin Snow. Over the wall is Mordor; here, in the shire, is where the halflings live. Where do I pay to keep Michael Lewis writing about sports?

posted by yerfatma at 07:54 AM on October 30, 2007

What an excellent, excellent piece. One of the reasons I don't care about the NFL is the cavalier way the kickers are treated, like they're somehow lesser humans because their not jacked-up pituitary mutants like the rest of the team. Listen to how the ESPN Jockocracy talk about kickers like they're an ATM for lunch money for a while. It kind of sickens me. I really don't get the constant and unquestioned condescension from teammates and coaches. I mean, they wear the same jersey, and their points count toward the team total, right? Or did I miss a memo?

posted by chicobangs at 10:32 AM on October 30, 2007

they wear the same jersey, and their points count toward the team total, right? Or did I miss a memo? Not to mention that you are using your foot to place an oblong-shaped ball between the two uprights at 54-yards, all while giant pissed off people are trying to kill you. Yeah...no. I have all the respect in the world for that talent. As far as I'm concerned, that is just as hard as sinking a 40-foot putt.

posted by hawkguy at 11:19 AM on October 30, 2007

As far as I'm concerned, that is just as hard as sinking a 40-foot putt. Until they make a kicking remote for the Wii, I won't be able to make a fair comparison between the two.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 01:32 PM on October 30, 2007

I especially love how people who've played football only at the high school level feel entitled to poo poo kickers and punters who play at the NFL level. The few times that I've listened to Rome, I've heard some of the stupid people that call in to read from a script pissing all over NFL kickers.

posted by NoMich at 01:53 PM on October 30, 2007

Great article. I wonder if Vinatieri is as vulnerable to a career ending miss as the writer suggests, though. If it's true that his "clutch" numbers are no more impressive than many other good kickers, then isn't his enduring popularity more down to the way he has changed coaches' and players' perception of him then his actual performance? Could one bad kick cause his fans to forget his three triumphant ones? I doubt it. I think the point of the article is that he's transcended the kicker's role, so the conclusion should be that he won't be subject to the same plummeting confidence that kills careers if he has one high profile blunder.

posted by lawn_wrangler at 02:22 PM on October 30, 2007

A soccer teammate of mine in high school had a cannon for a leg and walked on in college to be the starting kicker at a Division I school. He was good enough to get invited to the combine, but didn't get drafted. He tried for a couple years to make it but eventually go on with his life. One of the things he pointed out to me is that every year 2-3 times as many kickers as finally end up with jobs show up for training camp and you can gain or lose your job based on a couple of kicks. No one ever carries a backup kicker, so it's one of the most precarious positions in football - you're either on the team or off. There is no 2nd string.

posted by drumdance at 02:41 PM on October 30, 2007

Terrific article- thanks, holden.

posted by tieguy at 11:14 AM on November 01, 2007

Fanthropomorphism. Just re-read that article and keep finding more ways to love Michael Lewis as a writer. Just...wow.

posted by hawkguy at 12:38 PM on November 01, 2007

Fantastic article. Great find holden.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 02:32 PM on November 01, 2007

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