Kickers Aren’t Football Players, Brian Billick Says, and Doesn’t Understand How Kicks Would be Missed

Per NFL.COM and Conor Orr, this morning on NFL’s Game Day former head coach and current analyst – who often has good takes on football itself – dropped this pearl:

[Kickers] are part of your team, you want to give them love. But you also — man you’re out there sweating in training camp and in practice and you look over there and those guys are doing whatever it is they do, just kind of hanging out and it’s like ‘can you just do your job?’

At least he gets it. It’s tough to “work hard,” while others seemingly aren’t.

Kickers just hang out, while football players lead awful lives, sweating. Working hard with the human body. I mean never mind that increases brain neurotrophic factor (which builds brain cells), decreases arterial buildup, improves spirit and character, improves mood, decreases blood glucose levels, allows one to eat more food while losing or not putting on as much weight, and, relative to less exercise and more sitting, is directly connected to increased overall health and longevity, and is what the human body was made to do.

Also, never mind that football players are professsional athletes, while many people work their tails off just to stay in shape, battle a disease, or be able to play their own favorite sports for the job of the game; professional football players get paid upwards of a million dollars and more a year. So, yeah, I get it too, sweating out there at practice – moving, learning, using the human body, getting better at one’s craft – that must be kind of annoying while kickers just “do what they do.” At least for top notch sweating coaches like Billick.

What kickers do is kick. Personally if I was affiliated with a team I’d have our kickers work on better conditioning, strength, agility, and flexibility, and have them learn and practice tackling. So they would do a little more than kick, to the extent possible and practical: They’re part of the coverage team, and often miss tackles that could have saved huge kick returns.

But what they mainly do is kick. So if a team doesn’t see it my way – teach kickers to tackle better and develop flexibility and both primary and secondary muscle fibers (both for better musculature balance and resistance to injury, as well as improved practical multiple angle and situation use strength application) – then that’s what they would be doing.

Billick’s just expressing a mindset, and likely not literally suggesting kickers should not miss field goals or extra points. But it’s disconnected logic. The fact they “do what they do,” while other players work harder on staying in presumably better overall shape, as well as developing a far broader football execution skill and knowledge set, doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that kicking a football through uprights under presssure with a fast rush coming at you, particularly from far distances, is difficult.

And it is so, unlike catching a football, which should, as an NFL athlete, be part of a football player’s job. Any decent athlete can be taught to catch a football – a fairly easy act, and a critical fundamental to the game. (Plenty of passes are also dropped when the players isn’t about to get “pummeled,” and, albeit more difficult to disconnect the two mentally and thus kinesiologically, getting pummeled still isn’t really connected to the act of first catching the ball itself.)

Any decent athlete can not be taught to kick a ball through the uprights from 45 yards away with little time and under a heavy rush; and in fact few can. So aside from any other contributions a team seems fit to train kickers to assist on, kickers jobs are to try and make kicks.

So, Brian, they are doing their job.

One could also, if a little roughly, say, “maybe you should do yours while other analysts are in the studio sweating and giving relevant takes, analysis and info while you live this seemingly cush life of getting to simply rap about football and get paid a lot of money to do it.”

But that would be even less fair than illogically implying kickers have to not miss kick attempts in order to be doing “their jobs.” Particularly since the siliness is more apparent.

Your job is to give assessments; that’s what you were doing here. People like your assessments (including me much of the time), and so that is what it is:

While other people sweat away under boring monotonous repetitive labor hour after hour, you’re getting paid (presumably) a lot of money, to rap about how kickers apparently “aren’t doing their jobs,” when by virtue of what trying to kick a field goal at the limits of what we now as humans can do, practicing and trying to do so, and sometimes missing, even as kickers get better and better over time and field goals get longer and longer, is their job.

But naturally, Billick also noted how kickers aren’t football players:

I never coached kickers before and kickers aren’t football players. They’re different, they are.

I guess football players are people who fit a certain stereotype, and not people who play professional football, which kickers in fact do play. It’s not like kicking, or even the foot of the human body, has anything to do with football. It’s certainly not like it’s referenced in the name itself.

Kicking is part of what makes football interesting. And while kickers play a very different role than most other players, and thus probably as athletes are different in some ways (though differences is what in part makes democracies great, homogeneity what makes fascist regimes great, and a key requirement of them), to say they’re not football players is a little silly; like saying football commentators aren’t commentators. They are. They comment on football. It’s what they do. Just like kickers.

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