Whether it was injury or a lack of skill, Lauren Silberman wasn’t ready to take advantage of the platform the NFL sold her for $275 and a dream.
Ultimately, NFL officials and Silberman decided she shouldn’t continue after two dismal attempts at a kickoff due to an aggravated quad injury at a regional tryout in Florham Park, N.J. But honestly, there were few in the building who thought Silberman would be capable of markedly better results if she returned to another field at a later date.
She was the first woman to register for a regional combine, but there will be another first -- the first female kicker to complete the tryout.
And there are plenty who are up to it. There’s Katie Hnida, who was the first woman to score points in a Division I college football game. There are women who’ve played soccer on the international stage who may be able to convert their skills. There is Mo Isom, who tried out for LSU’s football team last year. Or Virginia Tech’s Lauren Luttrell, who was invited to spring practice in 2011. And there’s Ashley Martin, who kicked the first points by a woman in a Division I-AA game for Jacksonville State in 2001.
Silberman isn’t up there. The fact that she used the historic nature of her tryout as a platform is disappointing. It could set the process back, as some who saw the tape will say women should be excluded from tryouts.
Which is ridiculous. All men weren’t maligned when Bills kicker Scott Norwood became a poster child for missing field goals. And women have proved themselves athletically on enough different stages that one -- an unprepared Silberman -- should not undo all that work.
We have just watched Danica Patrick earn the pole at Daytona. Ronda Rousey is a UFC fighter worthy of headlining. No one doubts the athleticism of Serena Williams, Brittney Griner, Abby Wambach or any of 100 other female athletes who prove themselves every time they step onto the court or field.
Some have speculated that Silberman did it as a publicity stunt for her business. Applicants need only register and pay; there is no vetting process by the NFL for the regional combines, a reality-style tryout that can result in an NFL job. The league put out a press release on the historic nature of her tryout. There were nearly as many cameras as kickers.
Silberman had trouble even placing the ball on the tee. I was holding my breath as she made a run at the ball and let out a squeak when it traveled only 19 yards.
Kicking is an easy thing to judge. The hash marks on the field don’t care about your color, size or gender. When Silberman said later that she hoped the scouts looked at her technique, not just the length of her kick, the jig was up. It’s always about length. Either the field goal is good or not, even though Silberman didn’t get deep enough into her tryout to try a field goal.
Silberman won’t be the last, but the next woman to try out can bet the NFL will have done more than cashed her check before letting her take the field.
Equal opportunity means an equal chance of blowing it.