A Professional Punter Airs It Out

A Professional Punter Airs It Out

By Nick Maglione


I’m the other kicker in football. The one who never scores any points. 


You won’t see anyone cheering when I come on the field, except the other team’s fans. Seeing the field goal dude run out is usually a letdown--when I trot onto the field it’s a total drag.


It’s probably the least exciting position in any of the four major North American sports. Maybe bullpen catcher in baseball is worse. I don’t know. Never liked baseball. Too much standing around. 


Yeah, I know it’s ironic.


About the best thing I can do is kick the ball so that one of my teammates can stop it right before it goes into the end zone. Yeah, it’s possible I could make a touchdown-saving tackle, but it almost never happens. 


By the time the returner gets to me—if he gets to me—he passes by so fast, I look like Rent-A-Center furniture—stationary and badly abused. 


A lot of these returners were also track stars in college. Give me a fuckin’ break. The only time I ever stop him is when the fool runs into me and trips, which, frankly, I’d rather he got the touchdown. Neither of us looks too cool when that happens.


Occasionally, some bow-tied nerd with vermiform arms asks me if I consider myself a real athlete. Sucka, please. I was a backup receiver in high school, and the kicker, AND the punter. Do I come to your desk job and ask you if you consider yourself Mensa material? If you saw the human wrecking balls running at me full speed when I’m making a punt, you’d completely and utterly shit yourself. I’m talking a fudge volcano. 


Do I consider myself an athlete? Sucka, please.


The only time I really get any love from my teammates is when I catch a roughing the kicker call. If one of the dimwits on the return team brushes against me trying to block my kick, I fall on the ground and writhe in pain like I busted up my leg or some shit. Sometimes I can get fifteen yards by clutching one of my knees and screaming. This usually results in a first down and even the quarterback once gave me a “my dawg” and butt pat after it happened. I won’t go into the butt pats, other than to say, I’d take a hard pass on those if I could.


I’ve moved around the league a lot and practically no one notices. Only the special teams coaches and half of them don’t even bother to learn my name. There was a guy in Cleveland who addressed me as “P-boy” the whole time I was there. D-bag. Another one liked to call me ‘Spider’ for my long legs.


When it’s time for me to go into action, my teammates leaving the field ignore me, at best. There ain’t no torch passing between us. One time I heard the quarterback yell at the coach, “Get that spindly fucker off the field, we can make this.” 


Worst thing about it was, the guy couldn’t run a sneak to save his life. Always ended up with his helmet in the center’s ass. Sucka, please.


I also hold the ball for the kicker on field goals and extra points. He’s really the only guy who celebrates with me when something goes right, and that’s for something he did. Seriously, I don’t take any credit for holding the ball. I ain’t begging for scraps. 


“Nice hold on that kick, Spider.” No effin’ way. That’s all him if he makes the kick. But you better believe it becomes a two-man project when the diva misses. “You know I have problems when you hold the ball two degrees off, Spider. Pulls to the left every time.”


You should see these kickers in the locker room after they’ve made a game-winning score. Like King Midas pissing gold on his subjects from the throne. Real players--linemen the size of pickup trucks, slinky-ass DBs made out of steel wire--are practically lined up to kiss the guy’s ring. And don’t he revel in that shit.


I plan on being out of the league next year. Once you start averaging below forty per kick, you’re pretty much done. Ol’ Daddy Longlegs ain’t what he used to be. Maybe they’ll retire my number in a few years... I kid. Seriously, no one even knows what my number is now. Can you remember the number of a punter? 


...It’s eight, by the way. 


Like a spider. 


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