Ever since USWNT icon Carli Lloyd put toe to pigskin last week and booted a 55-yard field goal at a Philadelphia Eagles practice, commentators ranging from the encouraging to the inane have parachuted in with their Big Opinions. Carli Lloyd is somehow an opportunist, an inspiration, a target, a role model and—weirdly—a Social Justice Warrior, depending on who’s doing the commenting, all because she simply indicated it’d be pretty cool to take a run at kicking in the NFL.
With all due respect to every single one of the comment-section warriors, retired players and sportswriters—myself included—there are only a few opinions in this whole story that really warrant a second look.
In short: when an actual, real-life NFL kicker says he’s on board with the idea, it might be time to take it seriously. The Buffalo Bills’ Stephen Hauschka, who’s kicked for four teams over his 11-year career, weighed in on Lloyd on Thursday night with some encouraging words.
“If it's something she really wants to do, not only will I help her out—if she wants it—but I hope she goes for it,” Hauschka told ESPN.com. “I do think it's possible to kick well in this league as a female. It's a very mental position, it's physical, it's technical and I think it could be done eventually.”
Hauschka knows whereof he speaks; he was a soccer player himself as a college player. “It feels close to my heart because when I was 18, 19 years old, I was a soccer player and I had a dream of kicking footballs just for my Division III college team,” he said. “I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity and I had a coach that showed me how to do it.”
Hauscha dismissed with four words the most common critics’ complaint: that Lloyd wouldn’t be able to tackle defenders if necessary. His reply: “She doesn't have to.” Yeah, we’ll take a Super Bowl-winning kicker’s word over CowboysBro69 any day of the week.
But Hauschka noted that there’s a steep learning curve for anyone trying to learn to kick, even someone as decorated as a two-time gold medalist and two-time World Cup champion. Kicking in shorts on an open field is one thing, kicking in a full stadium with a charging defense is quite something else.
“It's definitely different, the thing I think that'll be tough for her is just game experience,” he said. "There's a lot of things that you've got to learn over the course of [a kicking career], and it's hard to learn that stuff at the NFL level because there's not room for error. I was fortunate enough to be able to kick at a Division III level and then the Division I level and work my way up. But I think it's really cool, a really cool story.”
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