Bucs have often struggled with wayward kickers

by Gary Shelton on August 22, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Are Bucs concerned with Nick Folk's accuracy?/CARMEN MANDATO

Are Bucs concerned with Nick Folk's accuracy?/CARMEN MANDATO

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

The long, strange tale of the Tremblin' Toes begins with a bricklayer.

Perhaps, it ends with one, too.

His name was Mirro Roder, the canceled Czech. He didn't last long, but he was the original Bucs kicker, an odd designation of an odd position. He was a common man, a blue-collar man. But he kicked about the way you would expect a day laborer to kick. Off his foot, there came bricks.

Roder, a qualified bricklayer, had spent two non-descript seasons with the

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Chicago Bears, hitting only 58.6 percent of his kicks. Still, he made the Bucs' roster in that winless '76 season. It was not the stuff of legend.

In two games, Roder missed all three of his field goals. And he was gone. Perhaps to lay bricks.

And such began the twisted tale of Bucs' placekickers, where disappointment raises its head from time to time.

Here we are again, watching the Bucs deal with wayward placekickers. The team earlier released Roberto Aguayo, much to the derision of outsiders. But replacement Nick Folk hasn't been any better. He missed an extra point and a field goal, and coach Dirk Koetter has been terse as he has answered questions about Folk. Folk has a solid history on his resume, so perhaps he willstraighten things out.

Perhaps not.

Even before Roder, there was a kicker named Peter Rajecki, who didn't make that '76 team. During camp, Rajecki admitted that it made him nervous when head coach John McKay watched him. “Please inform Mr. Rajecki that I plan to attend all the games,” McKay said.

That first season, after Roder flopped, the Bucs turned to punter Dave Green to kick. Green actually scored the first-ever points for the Bucs. Green spent parts of three seasons with the Bucs and hit 59.1 percent of his kicks.

There was Allan Leavitt, who led the Bucs' in scoring in 1977 … with 20 points. Whee.

There was Neil O'Donaghue, who made the all-time blooper films by trying to kick a ball that had been snapped over his head. He whiffed.

There was Bill Capece, who is immortal because of the way McKay chose to release him. “Capece is kaput,” said McKay.

There was Dave Warnke, who played one game in 1983 and missed a 29-yard field goal and an extra point. That led McKay to turn to offensive lineman George Yarno, who made his only extra point in the season's final game. There was Ken Willis, who hit eight of 14 field goals in 1992.

There was Steve Christie, a fine kicker. Christie took a backdoor bonus from the Bucs, a payment so he would stay and the team could protect others on a feeble roster. But Christie cheated, instead signing with Buffalo. And why was he unprotected again?

There was Patrick Murray, who once had a 24-yard field goal blocked while the Bucs were ahead 14-13 in the fourth quarter.

There was Mike Nugent, who lasted only four games (and hit two of his six field goal tries). There was Kyle Brindza, who hit only six of 12. Brindza once missed a 29-yard field goal (from the 11) in a loss to Carolina.

There was Roberto Aguayo, whose failures were multiplied after the team spent a second-round draft pick on him.

Imagine cleats on clown shoes. Too often, that's what the Bucs have had.

Oh, the Bucs have had a few good kickers through the years. There was Matt Bryant, for instance, who hit a 62-yarder to beat the Eagles in 2006. Bryant hit 98 of 118 field goals in his four years with the team. However, the Bucs – for some reason — cut Bryant to sign Nugent. Bryant lasted several more years in the NFL; Nugent is remembered as one of the team's biggest free agency busts. Even for the Bucs, it was a horrible roster decision.

There was John Carney, who turned out to be good. Carney ended up as one of the NFL's best kickers. In three stints with the Bucs, however, he hit only two of five.

Oh, the team did have Martin Gramatica, who led the world in celebrations. Every successful extra point, and Gramatica was dancing all over the field, inviting fans to get a load of just how wonderful he was. Compared to some of the others, he was.

The team had Donald Igwebuike, at least until he was charged with smuggling heroin. Iggy was found not guilty in court, but he was cut, too.

For a while, the Bucs had Garo Yepremian, whose scatter-shooting came from his arm while with the Dolphins, not his foot.

And so it goes. Linemen and bricklayers and high draft picks and expensive free agents.

For now, the struggles continue. As a franchise, the Bucs have often been wide left. Perhaps on the next kick, things will be different.

I mean, wide right is always possible, isn't it?

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