By Nick Shook
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In 2011, Sebastian Janikowski became the third kicker in NFL history to convert a 63-yard field goal attempt, thus completing the kicker triumvirate. In 2012, left-footed David Akers nailed a 63-yarder and blew up the coalition. Matt Prater came along and obliterated our scope of kicking greatness a year later, drilling a 64-yarder before halftime in a 51-28 win over the Titans.
Two of those kicks — Janikowski’s boot and Prater’s bomb — came in Denver, the famed Mile High City, where the air is thinner and brewery commercials would lead you to believe the spring water is more pure. Altitude’s influence has one kicker, Baltimore’s Justin Tucker, with his head in the clouds, claiming he can make an 84 — eighty-four — yard field goal within the confines of Denver’s home stadium.
Consider his bluff called.
Broncos kicker Brandon McManus is having none of what Tucker is serving, saying “I will give him an all-expense paid trip if he can do it,” per Mike Klis of KUSA.
That’s right — we have a kicker feud!
Specialists are known as such for that very reason: They excel at one specific task. Kickers today are better than ever, but not 84-yard-field goal better, thin air or not. These guys take pride in their craft, but aren’t going to let extreme claims, serious or otherwise, just pass through without resistance. McManus must protect his house.
One must also consider that kickers — and punters — have more time on their hands than the average football player. It’s understandable that between kicking field goals from the left hash, the space in between the hashes, then the right hash, then backing up, and kicking again … and again … and again, while teammates drill and scrimmage and do more than one thing in an afternoon, there’s room for absurd thoughts. And fresh off signing a four-year, $16.8 million contract, Tucker is likely still feeling himself a bit.
But 84 yards? Put the trip on the line and start kicking. Maybe it’ll make the clock move quicker to a real kick we all care about — kickoff of the regular season.