When a seemingly great matchup like the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks ends in a 6-6 tie because each kicker missed chip shots under 30 yards, you’ll get no argument from me that the state of field goal kicking deserves some scrutiny. However, there’s one thing I will argue to the death and that is the “kickers aren’t athletes” statement.
Look no further than the following tweet from a crotchety old windbag who sits in a chair all day flip-flopping on sports topics:
The utter disrespect just simply isn’t warranted. Call it like it is: field goal kicking has taken a nosedive this year and who knows what is really to blame. The athleticism, or lack thereof if you share Bayless’ viewpoint, of field goal kickers as a whole is not the culprit. If you disagree, read the science behind what goes into a successful field goal attempt. There is little to basically no margin for error.
I’ll direct you to a 2013 article from Popular Mechanics in which Alex Henery, the then Eagles kicker, explains the mechanics of the Hold, Plant, Arm, Kick, and Flight of the ball. It’s quite fascinating when you dig into it and it’s pretty amazing that almost any kick from 50-plus splits the uprights.
PM explains the “Sweet Spot” of the football: “Ideally, the kicker strikes the ball on the back seam about 4 inches off the ground. Henery’s foot rarely deviates more than 2.1 square centimeters from the target.” 2.1 square centimeters! That’s basically a third of a square inch. The amount of practice, reps, and experience it would take to make sure your foot hits the same spot on the ball within a third of a square inch is absolutely insane.
The article goes on to explain the intricacies behind balance and posture, which must be extremely precise, as any deviation can ruin a kick’s accuracy. I’ll save you the regurgitation and just encourage you to go read the article (link at the bottom).
Kickers are having a tough year, there’s no doubt about it. You could argue that offensive lines are having a similarly tough year. Look no further than the Colts, Bengals, and Cardinals, all teams that allow over three sacks per game. You’re not going to call into question whether these linemen are athletes or not, so there’s no reason to do that to kickers.
Call into question the mental state of rookie Roberto Aguayo, or make the case that Sebastian Janikowski is officially past his prime at age 38, but don’t by any means suggest that 43-year old Adam Vinatieri isn’t an athlete just because some of his counterparts can’t get it done when it counts.
Kickers are athletes. Kickers are football players. Kickers are people, too!
Read the Popular Mechanics article here