Placekicker, or simply kicker (PK or K), is the title of the player in American and
Canadian footballwho is responsible for the kicking duties of field goals, extra points, and, in many cases, kickoffs.
pecialized role of kicker (vs punter)
The kicker initially was not a specialized role. Until the 1960s, the kicker was almost always doubled at another position on the roster,
George Blandabeing the best example. As the era of "two-way" players gave way to increased specialization, teams would employ a specialist at punter and kicker. Because of the difference in techniques needed, and to reduce the risk of injury, on the professional level most teams employ separate players to handle the jobs. The placekicker usually will only punt when the punter is injured, and vice versa. (One player often handles both jobs in the Canadian Football League, which has smaller active rosters than in the NFL.) Occasionally a professional team will even have a kicker who handles only the kickoffs and serves as a backup to the kicker who handles field goals and extra points, typically to further protect a premier kicker from injury or if their premier kicker, while accurate, does not have the leg strength to kick the long kicks required for kickoffs.
Amateur teams (e.g., college or high school) often do not differentiate between placekickers and punters, have different players assume different placekicking duties (for example, one person handles kicking off, another kicks long field goals, and another kicks from shorter distances), or have regular position players handle kicking duties. The last option is quite common on high school teams, when the best athletes are often the best kickers. Before the modern era of pro football, this was also the case for professional teams, particularly when most place kicks were still made in the "straight on" style outlined below.
alary and team standing
Placekickers and punters are often the lowest paid starters on professional teams, although proven placekickers sometimes earn over a million dollars per year in salary.
In addition, kickers are at times ostracized by other players due to the perceived non-physical and limited nature of their duties, as well as the fact they often are allowed to leave practice before the rest of the team. It is not uncommon for a placekicker to be one of the smallest members of their team. The presence of foreign born-and-raised players in the highest levels of gridiron football has largely been limited to placekickers—occasionally even coming from outside the traditional American high school and/or
college footballsystems—thereby increasing the perception of the placekicker as an outsider even though the placekicker is put into an extreme pressure situation every time he touches the field.
Placekickers today are almost all "soccer-style" kickers, approaching the ball from several steps to the left or right of it and several steps behind and striking the ball with the instep of the foot. Before this method of kicking was popularized in the 1960s by Charlie and
Pete Gogolak, every place kicker was a "straight on" kicker, a style that requires the use of a special shoe that is extremely rigid and has a flattened toe. [http://www.wizardkicking.com/images/ACF2C08.jpg] In the straight on style (also known as "straight-toe" style), the kicker approaches the ball from directly behind, rather than from the side, and strikes the ball with the toe. Straight on kickers are relatively uncommon in college football (due to soccer becoming more popular), but a very small percentage of high school football players still kick straight-toe. The last straight on placekicker in the NFL was Mark Moseleywho retired from the Cleveland Brownsafter the 1986 season; Dirk Borgognone, who set records with the straight toe in high school, tried but failed to make several NFL teams in the early 1990s.
Placekickers in the modern game usually wear specialized shoes, but in very rare circumstances some prefer to kick
barefoot. Tony Franklin was one such kicker, who played in Super Bowls for the Philadelphia Eaglesand New England Patriots. More recently, Englishman Rob Hartkicked barefoot during his 7-year NFL Europe career. John Bakeralso used the style in the 1990s in the Canadian Football League, as did José Cortézin the XFL.
Barefoot kickers are banned in the vast majority of high school games, due to a rule by the
National Federation of State High School Associations, which requires all players to wear shoes. Massachusettsand Texasplay by NCAArules, and therefore barefoot kickers are legal in those two states.
Mostly all soccer-style kickers approach the ball normally, by just bending down a little, and then proceeding to kick the ball. However, some kickers stand in a wide variety of strange stances. One example is
Paul Edinger, who stood backwards, and spun around 180 degrees to kick the ball
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