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The tough world of an NFL place-kicker

By Steve Schwarz, Fantasy Sports Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The glamorous life of an NFL player is often glorified by the media and among fans. Who wouldn't want to be Tom Brady with a supermodel wife and three Super Bowl rings?

But that's just the tip of the sword.

At the other end of the spectrum is the player hanging on to the 53rd spot on a 53-man roster making the league minimum.

Somewhere in between the two extremes, though a lot closer to the bottom than the top, lies a place-kicker.

The Patriots' Stephen Gostkowski and Ravens kicker Justin Tucker weren't concerned on Saturday's "cutdown" day. They have a nice contract in hand and little-to-no competition.

But even for the elite kicker, their job security is only as good as their most recent kicks.

This past week was pretty hard on place-kickers. Jay Feely, Shayne Graham, Ryan Succop and Alex Henery felt the sharp edge of the sword. Each had a starting gig in the NFL last season and were likely owned by fantasy owners.

They are all currently looking for employment.

And I know that in at least one of my fantasy leagues (I have five), I'm now in need of kicking help because I had drafted Graham thinking the New Orleans offense appeared to be very explosive this season.

I still like the Saints offense, but thanks to coach Sean Payton's unusual roster strategy, I don't know who to select as Graham's replacement. The coach not only let Graham go, but Graham's only competition in practice and the preseason - Derek Dimke.

Payton might return to a well-known product, former Saints kicker Garrett Hartley comes to mind, or he could pick up one of the just-released kickers. Only time will tell, though Payton only has eight days until the season begins, so I hope he decides soon.

That's the life of an NFL kicker. And that's why fantasy owners should never place a high value on the position. Because's today's star may be in tomorrow's unemployment line.

It should also be a warning to all the fathers out there. Please dad, remember how easily a team is willing to jettison their kicker and when your son (or daughter) comes to you for lessons on how to become a kicker, teach him how to throw the football instead.

Or if he wants a really long NFL career, teach him to be a center, or better yet, a long snapper on special teams. Those guys play forever.

08/31 15:06:43 ET


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