Have shoes become less expensive? Have footballs become harder? Has shoe contracts become too lucrative? Are today’s kickers too soft?
I can’t recall the last time I saw a barefooted kicker. My wife & I were discussing the barefooted kickers this weekend so I decided to do some research on the subject. Here is what I discovered…
The First Barefooted Field Goal: Of course the original barefooted kicker was Tony Franklin of the Philadelphia Eagles. A star kicker from Texas A&M, Franklin was drafted by Dick Vermeil in the 3rd round (pick #74) of the 1979 NFL draft. The first ever FG by a barefooted kicker occurred in Veterans Stadium on September 2, 1979 when Franklin helped the Eagles defeat the NY Giants 23-17. The NFL had a rule that stated “no bare legs allowed” so Franklin would wear the top portion of a sock on his kicking leg. Franklin played in the NFL for 10 seasons (1979 to 1988) and was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1985.
The Longest Barefooted FG: As a rookie Tony Franklin kicked a 59 yd. FG at Dallas on a Monday night November 12, 1979. At that time it was the 4th longest FG in NFL history. Three years earlier (on October 16, 1976) Franklin kicked a 65 yd. FG for Texas A&M setting the record for the longest FG in collegiate history. His record was broken later that same day when Ove Johansson kicked a 69 yd. FG (but Johansson wore a shoe). In that same game Franklin also kicked a 64 yd. FG, and he remains the only college player to ever kick two 60+ yard field goals in one game (with or without a shoe!).
The Most Famous Barefooted FG: In the 1987 AFC Championship game in Cleveland John Elway orchestrated what is now known as “The Drive.” Rich Karlis kicked the game tying PAT as well as the game winning FG in overtime to advance the Broncos into Super Bowl XXII vs. the Redskins.
The Most: In the 1984 there were 4 full-time barefooted kickers which appears to be the most in the league at one time. Those 4 were Franklin, Mike Lansford, Rich Karlis, & Paul McFadden. If you include punters you can add Jim Miller to the 1984 list of barefooted kickers.
The Last Barefooted FG: For the first seven weeks of the 2002 season Jeff Wilkins of the St. Louis Rams kicked barefooted. Despite hitting 9 of 12 FG’s Wilkins ended his barefoot experiment by putting on a shoe in week 8, thus officially ending the era of the barefoot kickers. Traditionalists criticized Wilkins because he wore a tightly wrapped ace bandage around his kicking foot.
Here is the best list I could come up with of the barefoot kickers (If you know of any I am forgetting let me know):
– Tony Franklin, kicker 1979-’88 Eagles, Patriots, & Dolphins
– Jim Miller, punter 1982-’84 & 1987 49ers, Cowboys, & Giants
– John Goodson, punter 1982 Steelers
– Rich Karlis, kicker 1982-’90 Broncos, Vikings, & Lions
– Dave Warnke, kicker 1983 Tampa Bay (he kicked one extra point barefooted)
– Paul McFadden, kicker 1984-’89 Eagles, Giants, & Falcons
– Mike Lansford, kicker 1982-’90 Rams
– Tommy Thompson 1997 49ers (kicked off barefooted but wore a shoe for punts)
– Jeff Wilkins, kicker Rams (barefooted for only 7 games of the 2002 season)
– The Patriots, barring some kind of miracle, will go 17-0. Move over Mercury Morris there is another ship about to dock in your harbor.
Look at the Patriots remaining schedule: They face the N.Y. Jets & Miami. New England won more games in the month of November than the Jets & Dolphins have won all season COMBINED. The Patriots final game is a Saturday night affair against the N.Y. Giants. By that time the G-Men will have a solid lock on the #5 spot in the NFC with no chance to improve or fall back. Sadly the game that will send the Patriots into the history books will be nothing more than a preseason type game.
(I still say that the Ravens should have beat the Pats but the refs robbed them!)
– The Oakland Raiders had their worst loss of the season Sunday. It was the first time all season they have not been close in the 4th quarter. It was nice to see Andrew Walter play QB. His throwing motion is like sweet music. Next up for the Raiders is Peyton Manning and the Colts in Oakland. I wouldn’t be surprised if JaMarcus plays a few series (Russell was the #3 QB yesterday so he wasn’t likely to play).