Anyone with details on the 98-yard NFL record punt?

I remember a friend talking about it in the early 1980s, but I don’t recall whether he was recounting something he had actually seen (e.g., if ABC’s “Wide World of Sports” showed the footage) or whether he was reading or hearing a description of it.

Anyway, what he said was: The punt actually covered about 70 yards in the air from the 1-yard line, then took the Mother Of All Bounces, and ended up rolling to the opposing 1-yard line.

Can anyone corroborate this? My Google-fu has not turned up much.

ETA: [I know the names, teams, and date, just not the details of the punt.]

Steve O’Neal, Jets @ Broncos, 1969. If I tell you more, I’ll have to kill you. Somewhat related article

I know absolutely nothing about football but here it goes. Randall Cunningham has apparantly kicked a really long punt. Video here.

I saw a film of the play on NFL network last week – I think it was the first time I’d ever seen the film.

Note that it was, indeed, in Denver, where the altitude may well have helped with the distance in the air.

The returner had set up to field the punt (after probably backpedaling…not even in Denver do you plan for a punt to go that far in the air), but it went over his shoulder, and bounced and rolled, and rolled.

I remember Cunningham used to punt the ball away on 3rd and long on occasion, when the chances of getting the 3rd down conversion were low and the chance for extra field position was high. [Checking] Yep, 20 punts for a 44.7 average.

I remember a game against the Giants where one of those punts went for something like 80 yards.

ETA: 91 yards, apparently, as I would have found had I followed the links 3 posts before mine.

Just thinking, 70 yards doesn’t seem very far at all.
There again, I’m not too familiar with American football, are these punts looking for maximum distance or time in the air?

For punts, time in the air is important, so that the kicking team can get downfield to stop the kick returner. Obviously, distance is important as well, but not as much as during a kickoff.

Remember, the punter stands about 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage, but the punt is measured from the line of scrimmage. So he actually kicks the ball 10 yards farther than the numbers say.

True. “Hang time” is also important; the punter wants his teammates to have time to converge on the punt returner. NFL punters generally shoot for a hang time of at least 4 seconds.

Also, consider that an American football is narrower and pointier than a rugby or Aussie football; over the early years of the game, it was made pointier to make passing easier, but it makes kicking it more challenging.

An NFL punter typically has a “gross average” of around 45 yards per punt (more like 55 yards if you take into account the distance behind the line of scrimmage; punt distance is calculated from the line of scrimmage), though that average is calculated from all of his punts. Bear in mind that a fair number of punts wind up being intentionally shorter than that average, as the punter is trying to pin the opponents deep in their own side of the field. If you’re punting from midfield, that may lead to a 35 or 40 yard punt, but it’s still exactly what you’re trying for.

So, a good NFL punter is able to consistently punt the ball 60 or so yards in the air, with a hang time of something over 4 seconds.

Note: The NFL of the USA has some European and Australian kickers. Some do well, but they don’t bring any special abilities to the table that many home-grown kickers don’t.

Ben Graham (Cardinals) and Sav Rocca (Eagles) are both from Australia and do a nice job, ranking 7 and 13 respectively out of 30. There could be more foreign kickers, but that is just a sample.

As **kenobi 65 **said, you have to keep in mind that an american football is tough to kick. I have kicked lots of rugby balls and footballs and it’s like the difference between a lacrosse ball and one of those pink bouncy balls kids have. Both bounce a bit, but footballs are much harder, though if you can kick a spiral, they do fly nicely.

I seem to remember I was watching that game. The ball just got behind the return man and rolled and bounced until it was downed on the one.

O’Neal had a powerful kick, but I doubt it was that much more than any punter of his day (or before or after). Most NFL punters could probably do the same if they were punting on an empty field. The key to the distance was that the return man underestimated the kick.

Darren Bennett began his NFL punting career after retiring from Australian football. He had an outstanding NFL career, being named the punter on the 1990s all-decade team (despite only starting in 1995), and was named All-Pro twice. He also introduced the “drop-punt” technique from Aussie football, which many NFL punters now use for “pooch punts”.

Parenthetical but related note:

In the 1960s and 1970s, the style of placekicking in the NFL changed from the straight-on (“toe-style”) kick to the “soccer-style” kick which is now the norm (I don’t think that there’s been a toe-style kicker in the NFL for at least 20 years).

Pete Gogolak (a Hungarian) is generally credited with introducing the soccer-style kick; through the '60s and '70s, many kickers were foreign-born, with soccer backgrounds. Once soccer-style placekicking took hold at the youth level, and those kids made it to college (and then, the pros), that “European advantage” went away.

This thread is about punting. I mentioned punters.

I wasn’t getting into the history of place kickers, since this was about punting.

Did I mention we were discussing punters?


Well, you did say:


I remember seeing a film clip of O’Neal’s punt. It went about 50 yards in the air (past the return man) and took several large bounces before going out at the one-yard line.