the study of the kicking components within sports

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Jason Elam

The news broke yesterday that Jason Elam will be signing a one day contract with Denver so that he can retire as a Bronco. Following is the requisite retrospective of selected moments from his various careers.

Jason Elam, Brookwood Georgia Kicker
When Elam spent the final few years of his pro career with Atlanta, it brought him very close to his childhood home. One Falcons scrimmage actually put him  back on the Brookwood field where he played high school football.
“It was a dream to be able to do something like this. I’m not trying to be cheesy or anything like this, I’m fulfilling a dream here. It’s pretty special. To be able to come back, I never dreamed that this would be able to happen.... To this day, he’s [former high school coach Clay Cox] still been my best coach. I still call him up and talk to him about technique and stuff.”
Jason Elam, Hawaiian Kicker
Elam spent his college career, 1989-1992, kicking for the University of Hawaii. Several years ago, he recollected on the experience:
"I think it [playing at UH] made me grow up a lot faster than I probably would have normally. Just having to go that far away from home [Georgia] and having to go through some of the homesickness stuff. it was hard being a 17-, 18-year-old kid going that far away. But after my sophomore year, once i got over it, I absolutely loved my junior and senior years years. And I think that being able to play all four years and get that experience and get my name out really helped....

I mean, UH was great when I was there. We had great teams. We were going to bowl games and won the WAC my senior year, played in the Holiday Bowl and got a lot of exposure. In coach [Paul Johnson's] offense we were definitely going to score a touchdown or kick a field goal."
Jason Elam, Mile High Kicker
After a highly successful 17 year NFL career, Elam compiled many highlights, set numerous records, and scored nearly two tons of points. My first thought was to include a video clip of his record tying 63 yard field goal, however I quickly realized that was too obvious (plus it will probably be shown repeatedly by the media in the next day or so). Instead, we'll watch Elam using his arm rather than his leg - tossing around the pigskin with fans on the sideline and in the stands before a game.

Jason Elam, Author
In recent years, Elam has added published author to his resume, co-authoring three books: Monday Night Jihad, Blown Coverage, and Blackout. The thriller series incorporates football, terrorism and religion. The fourth book in the series is due out later this year. Elam commented on the origins of the books:
"The genesis of Monday Night Jihad goes back almost 10 years...My brother kept a journal of all the crazy football stories I'd told him over the years. About a year-and-a-half ago, I began to think what if I was able combine all those quirky stories with a terrorist element to create an action-adventure story. Through this story, I want to bring out why people of strong conviction do what they do."
Jason Elam, World Hunter and Missionary
Over the years during off-seasons, Elam has made numerous trips abroad, typically for big game hunting or for missionary efforts.
"Over the last decade, during offseasons, I've been going to Africa and the Middle East, like Israel, Jordan and Gaza last year. Some are for fun. Some of it is missionary or relief work. My Gaza trip had a big part in this. Before going in, we called ahead because if they're not fighting Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, they're fighting amongst themselves. The Israeli side said they highly recommend we not go in, but that everything was quiet."

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Overtime Achievers

The NFL's recent rule change regarding overtime in playoff games has triggered extensive discussion. We'll leave the lively debate to others, and simply take this opportunity to reminisce. Following is list of all the game winning field goals in over time in playoff games, regardless of whether they occurred on the first possession or later.

December 23, 1962 - AFL Championship
Tommy Brooker 25 yard field goal

December 26, 1965 - NFL Western Playoff
Don Chandler 25 yard field goal

December 25, 1971 - AFC Divisional Playoffs
Garo Yepremian 37 yard field goal

January 2, 1982 - AFC Divisional Playoffs
Rolf Benirschke 29 yard field goal

January 3, 1987 - AFC Divisional Playoffs
Mark Moseley 27 yard field goal

January 11, 1987 - AFC Championship
Rich Karlis 33 yard field goal

January 3, 1988 - AFC Wild Card
Tony Zendejas 42 yard field goal

December 31, 1989 - AFC Wild Card
Gary Anderson 50 yard field goal

January 3, 1993 - AFC Wild Card
Steve Christie 32 yard field goal

January 8, 1994 - AFC Wild Card
Nick Lowery 32 yard field goal

January 17, 1999 - NFC Championship
Morten Andersen 38 yard field goal

January 19, 2002 - AFC Divisional Playoffs
Adam Vinatieri 23 yard field goal

January 11, 2003 - AFC Divisional Playoffs
Joe Nedney 26 yard field goal

January 11, 2004 - NFC Divisional Playoff
David Akers 31 yard field goal

January 8, 2005 - AFC Wild Card
Doug Brien 28 yard field goal

January 15, 2005 - AFC Divisional Playoff
Jeff Reed 33 yard field goal

January 14, 2007 - NFC Divisional Playoff
Robbie Gould 49 yard field goal

January 20, 2008 - NFC Championship
Lawrence Tynes 47 yard field goal

January 24, 2010 - NFC Championship
Garrett Hartley 40 yard field goal

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Special Teams Coordinators

On more than one occasion, we've discussed the tenuous nature of kicking jobs, especially at the pro level. The same is true for coaching jobs. The chart below lists the special teams coach for each NFL team heading into 2010. Out of the thirty-two total, seven are new hires and eleven are in only their second year of the job. At the opposite end of the spectrum is the Titans' Alan Lowry who has somehow managed to keep his job for 12 years.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Fantasizing About Attempts

Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould was born in Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania. He would eventually head west a short distance to Mill Hall, PA, where he won letters in soccer, football, basketball and track in high school. After another brief trip west he stopped in Happy Valley, attending college at Penn State and kicking for the Nittany Lions. Following an undrafted and off-course detour to New England, he headed west several states and landed successfully in Chicago. Last month Gould attended the NFL Scouting Combine, where told this years invitees the story of his travels to becoming one of the most accurate and highest paid kickers in the NFL.

But that all pertains to the real Robbie Gould. What about the fantasy Robbie Gould? When it comes to fantasy football, it is all about the numbers. The fact that Robbie's Goulden Touch Foundation raises awareness and funding for Essential Tremor disorder isn't taken into consideration. The fact that Robbie makes a lot of field goals is definitely taken into consideration. While fantasy football has evolved to the point where vast amounts of statistics are analyzed, the two primary numbers for kicking are the number of scoring opportunities and field goal accuracy. Today we'll take quick look at the first set of numbers. Having already cast aside Robbie Gould the person, we now cast aside his mind and leg, as well as those of all kickers. The kicker scoring attempts are compared on a team-by-team basis rather than for individual kickers, since the scoring opportunities are generated by the team. This simplified approach does however ignore the individual factor of a coach's comfort level with his kicker potentially impacting the decision of whether to attempt a kick in certain situations.

Epilogue: last year Robbie Gould participated in a fantasy football league. He drafted the Panthers' John Kasay as his fantasy kicker. Gould had been drafted eight picks earlier by his teammate RB Matt Forte.

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Indoor Kickers, part 3

The third and final installment of our overview of Indoor Football League kickers:

Chris Segaar, Richmond Revolution
College:Virginia Tech
Also listed as a wide receiver and a defensive back, the kicker noted, "From a pride standpoint, I didn't want the kicker label. I always considered myself too athletic for that. Now, I'm starting to concentrate on it. My goal is to make it to the Arena 1 League . . . even the NFL."

Adam Lanctot, Rochester Raiders
College: SUNY Brockport
The former soccer and baseball player noted, “I wanted to try something new, I wanted to get into hitting. I always played backyard football with my buddies. The next thing you know, I was kicking on varsity my sophomore year.... Senior year, all I did was kick and I just fell in love with it."

Sean Riley, San Angelo Stampede Express
College: Navy
Following high school, Sean enlisted in the Navy were he would travel the world playing soccer. Sean got back into kicking in 1999 where he attempted to stake his claim in the Arena league. After several un-successful attempts he found his home in minor league football kicking for the Dallas Diesel. Sean's claim to fame is a four time (five seasons) NAFL all-star.

Shane Hudnall, Sioux City Bandits
College: Texas Christian University
He was a wide receiver at TCU and also handled kickoff duties with the Horned Frogs. He'll compete as a kicker for the Bandits, but could also play wide receiver, if needed, for the Bandits.

Rob Zarrilli, Sioux Falls Storm
College: Hofstra / Louisville
Zarrilli, who is known for his huge leg, was 4th in the nation in field goals made and 7th in all time field goal percentage while playing for Hofstra University. Zarrilli finished his career at Hofstra with a total 49 field goals and 79 extra points.

Brett Jaekle, Tri Cities Fever
College: University of Nevada Reno
During his senior season with the Wolf Pack, Jaekle made 14 of 17 FGs, made all 63 PATs, and was selected All-Western Athletic Conference First Team. He also got to go toe-to-toe against his brother Ben, who was kicking for UNLV.

David Hendrix, West Michigan Thunderhawks
College: Grand Valley State
Hendrix was the kicker for the GVSU Laker squad the won back-to-back Division II national championships in 2002 and 2003. Last year he played for the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz in the AF2.

Zeke Arevalo, West Texas Roughnecks
College: St. Mary's
During his initial stint with the Roughnecks, Arevalo kicked the franchise longest FG of 53 yards. He returned to the team last year and won Special Teams Player of the Week honors last summer.

Dylan Pohlman, Wichita Wild
College: Tabor College
Pohlman has plenty of indoor experience, having kicked for four AF2 teams:  
Corpus Christi, the Manchester Wolves, the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgs, and the Wichita Stealth. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Indoor Kickers, part 2

We continue our overview of the current kickers in the Indoor Football League:

Dan Zeidman, Colorado Ice
College: Idaho State University
With the ISU Bengals, Ziedman punted in his junior and senior seasons and added kicking in his senior year. He noted regarding a previous job, "My favorite job was when I sold sunflower seeds for the Chargers and the Padres. I would go early to the game to watch the kickers warm up."

Rene Vasquez, Corpus Christi Hammerheads
College: Texas A&M-Kingsville 
Back in his high school days at Springstead, in addition to punting and kicking for the football team, Vasquez also played soccer and was on the  swim team.

Carlos Ojeda, Fairbanks Grizzlies
College: University of Central Florida
Ojeda has previous indoor experience with the Albany Conquest (AF2) and the Billings Outlaws. "When I was there, we switched holders twice (and) we switched snappers three times. There was a lot of inconsistency. We didn't really practice during the week." He has a series of kicking highlight videos posted on youtube.

Robert Page, Fairbanks Grizzlies
College: played soccer, but never played football until trying out for the Grizzlies.
He says he watched his high school and college football teams practice and decided it was something he’d like to try.
Tino Amancio, Green Bay Blizzard
College: University of Idaho
In a college game, Amancio's 51 and 52 yard FGs were the difference in a 20-14 win over New Mexico State. In his first game with the Blizzard, an exhibition game against the La Crosse Spartans, Amancio hit a 34 yarder on the final play of the game for a 14-11 win.

Justin Miller, Kent Predators
College: Seattle University
Miller was a two time MVP soccer player for the Redhawks.

John Dierkhising, La Crosse Spartans
College: Gustavus Adolphus
The Kicker Dude previously played for the semi-pro football St. Paul Pioneers. While attending Gustavus he played soccer and was a "top-notch goaltender... along with one of the strongest punting legs in the league."

Justin Willis, Maryland Maniacs
College: Navy
Last year with the Maniacs, Willis was 6 of 26 on field goals, with a long of 35 yards. Six of the misses were blocked. He was 25 of 37 on PATs.

Ricky Lebeda, Omaha Beef
College: Dana College
Lebeda holds the record for longest FG in the NAIA Senior Classic with a 60 yarder. Lebeda was the Beef kicker for much of last year. In October he was part of a huge multi-player trade to the River City Rage, which subsequently folded, freeing him to return to Omaha.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Indoor Kickers, part 1

While only a minority of NFL and NCAA teams play in domed venues, all of the teams in the aptly named Indoor Football League play indoors. Last Friday, their 2010 season began. Today, we take a quick look at some of the their kickers.

Nick Pertuit, Abilene Ruff Riders
College: University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio College.
Pertuit, who also coaches high school soccer, said of his IFL tryout last year, “I wasn’t even sure I was going to try out until the day of. It sounded exciting, and it was a new challenge.... Growing up, we would always go out camping, hiking and play soccer all year round.

Jeff Tongate: Alaska Wild
College: Air Force
Playing for a team in Alaska, it is probably a good thing it is an indoor league, especially since Tongate kicks barefoot, "As a kid if something's different then you wanted to try it." 

Darren McCaleb, Amarillo Venom
College: Southern Miss
McCaleb broke the Golden Eagles career scoring record during his junior season and increased his total to 345 points by the end of his senior year.

Brian Umstead, Arkansas Diamonds
College:Georgia Military College
Umstead played in Arenafootball2 for the Albany Firebirds last year. "Brian’s nickname is “BUM” and his favorite food is little Debbie Cakes. Brian used to pretend he was Pele as a kid, and likes watching soccer and golf."

Darren Brown, Austin Turfcats
College: Wofford College (SC).
"Brown’s legal practice will continue to take a back seat to his love for sports and his entrepreneurial spirit. Darren owns and manages both SoccerZone South Austin and ASA (Austin Sports Arena), providing a unique perspective and that allows him to think outside the box in formulating solutions to challenges that arise."

Garrett Palmer, Billings Outlaws
College: San Diego State.
Palmer was very briefly at Utah to begin his college career, but he soon found a home at SDSU, "It's a dream come true. You couldn't ask for anything more as a freshman. I couldn't ask for anything more than the opportunity they've given me to do kickoffs and field goals. I didn't expect it to be this great."

Peter Christofilakos, Bloomington Extreme
College: University of Illinois.
During his four years with the Extreme, Christofilakos has proven to be one of the most accurate and productive kickers in the IFL. Last year he led the league in kicker scoring and in field goal percentage.

Chris Nendick, Chicago Slaughter
College: Northern Illinois.
"To be honest with you, it's got to be hitting and recovering all of those onside kicks. Fortunately I've worked hard in the off-season, and when I was working out with the [Chicago] Rush, they told me [onside kicking] was going to be the #1 thing that was going to get me into the league. Everyone can kick off, everyone can kick field, but onside kicks are the thing that is going to get you in."

Rocky Stevens, Colorado Ice
College: Black Hills State.
During his time at BHSU, Stevens was an  NAIA All-American in 2005 and  was named Dakota Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Week in 2006 following the game in which the Yellow Jackets clinched their first ever conference title.