How fitting that the week after Michael Leahy’s fantastic look into the life of an NFL placekicker, Washington Redskins kicker Graham Gano finds his job on the line.
Mike Shanahan won’t say as much, but on Tuesday the Skins brought in other kickers for workouts, the Post reports.
The kicking tryout will be held because Graham Gano has sore ribs, not because he missed two short field goals in Sunday’s loss, Shanahan said.
“If he’s full-speed, he’ll be our kicker this week,” Shanahan said.
Gano’s misses came from 25 and 34 yards, and he barely made another short field goal. He is 22 for 32 on the year, and his success rate – 66.8 percent – is 32nd in the NFL.
Gano’s game on Sunday against Tampa Bay, during which he missed 24-year and a 34-yard field goals, was one of the most painful kicking performances this side of the year 2000. In Leahy’s story, both his feature subject, Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff, and almost everyone else in the kicking business agree that one bad day in the NFL will usually cost a player a job.
The market for kickers is favorable to teams, not players. Sure, there’s Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski and his $16 million, but most players don’t have the benefit of a crazy-ass owner who may or may not be undead signing their paychecks. So players like Cundiff and Gano truly live their lives game-to-game, kick-to-kick.
Most shocking was the revelation that players just expect kickers to perform, even though players at all positions make mistakes, every game. Peyton Manning isn’t going anywhere when he throws four INTs and loses the game, but that’s because he is irreplaceable. If a kicker can hit a 45-yarder consistently, he can probably replace a team’s scapegoat after a bad loss. Tim Hasselbeck on kickers, from Leahy’s story:
The basic feeling of guys on a team, I think, is that kickers are supposed to make their kicks.”
For those of us who will never take to the gridiron and instead toil in cubicle hell, perhaps the best analogy to a kicker is your office’s IT guy. He isn’t really part of the work team, but damn it, he better fix your computer.
Except you can’t just replace your poor performing IT guy — he is there to stay. Graham Gano? Not so much.