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Column: Ditching woes with steel toes

Who wouldn’t want to be an NFL punter?

Jan. 29, 2014

I lived a standard childhood. I memorized “The Sandlot,” broke four windows, quit Boy Scouts after a week and dreamed of becoming a professional athlete.

What made my dream different from other kids’ dreams was that I didn't want to belt homers or throw touchdowns. I dreamt of becoming an NFL punter.

It is a dream that I have yet to give up on. Am I actively pursuing this dream? No, not at the moment. But I'm not actively pursuing Blake Lively either, and that's a sure thing.

The reasons for becoming an NFL punter are fairly obvious, but in the off chance you are unaware of them, allow me to fill you in. According to Sports Illustrated, the average salary for an NFL punter is $868,005. Let's say you're the punter for the Buffalo Bills, the team that led the NFL in punts with 96 of them. You'd be making $9041.72 per punt, based on the average salary.

That's a used sedan every time!

And you don't even have to keep the ball in bounds. Whereas a kicker is aiming for a target (whether it be the uprights or the end zone), the punter has no such pressure. Just kick the ball as far away as possible, and let everybody else worry about tackling the 5 foot 10, 185-pound freak athlete with a 4.4-second 40-yard dash.

That said, the return is probably the most appealing part of the entire gig. Yes, that returner is exponentially faster and quicker than the punter, and, yes, there's a high chance he could cause the punter irreparable damage to both his ankles and his pride.

But if the punter can, by some act of God, bring down the return man, he is an immediate hero to every unathletic fan in that stadium (which, one has to assume, is the vast majority of every NFL stadium).

But 99 percent of the time, the punter fails to bring down the return man, left in the dust after a pathetic attempt to throw their body in front of the speedster. An equally embarrassing and far more painful alternative is the punter getting blindsided by an opposing special teams player.

Case in point: Bengals punter Kevin Huber suffered a broken jaw on a ferocious hit from Steelers special teams player Terence Garvin earlier this season.

Now I know that neither of those options sound particularly appealing, but there is a silver lining. Anything that happens to a punter that is out of the ordinary is immediate YouTube gold. Whether it be getting juked out of his jockstrap, blindsided to the point of going blind, making a miraculous tackle or running a fake punt, the masses will clamor for that highlight.

Conclusion: If you become an NFL punter you are guaranteed riches, YouTube fame, a sweet single-bar facemask and the admiration of washed-up soccer goalies everywhere.

What else can you ask for? If you happen to be at Faurot Field for spring practice and see a 6-foot-5, devilishly handsome young man with great physique booming 25-yard punts, you'll know who it is.

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