Of the thousands of players I’ve covered through the years, one of the most cerebral is former Tampa Bay kicker Michael Husted.
We live on opposite ends of the country (Husted’s in the San Diego area and I live in Tampa) now, but I’m happy to say we stay in touch. Husted sent me a link to a blog post he wrote on the life of an NFL kicker. I urge you all to give it a read.
It’s especially relevant after Baltimore’s Billy Cundiff missed what looked like a very easy field-goal attempt in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.
Like I said, Husted is an extremely intelligent guy. He’s also a member of a rare club -- he’s a guy who actually kicked in the NFL. Cundiff’s miss prompted Husted to pour his heart out. Although Husted was the consummate pro during his playing career, he admitted some things you’re not going to hear from many kickers in what he wrote.
“They may be able to hide it, but every kicker gets nervous, not only for a game-winning or tying kick, but really, for any field-goal attempt,’’ Husted wrote.
Husted also took exception to the beating Cundiff has been taking via social media.
“After the game I went onto Facebook to see what people were writing,’’ Husted wrote. “I noticed several kickers, high school and college, posting that they would have made that kick. As Billy commented, he has made that kick 1,000 times. However, none of those kickers have ever been, and probably will never be in that position. So, realistically, they don't know how it feels nor do they know how to manage that pressure situation. In fact, there are several retired and current NFL players that have never ever been remotely close to that situation, myself included.’’
Husted was in many pressure situations and I distinctly remember him making a game-winning kick in Indianapolis while silently dealing with the added pressure of his mother dealing with a terminal illness. Maybe Husted never got to attempt a game-winning kick in a conference title game or a Super Bowl, but he’s one of a relatively small group of guys on the planet who can truly relate to what happened to Cundiff. His words about the pressure of that situation carry a lot of weight in my eyes because Husted has been in similar situations. Those who say they easily could have made the kick that Cundiff missed don't know what they're talking about. That's because they never have been in his shoes.