Bare Foot Kicker/Punter - NFL

Are there any bare foot kickers or punters in the NFL? If not, who were the last bare foot kickers and punters?

My beloved Rams had a barefooted punter for quite a few years (like in the late 80s or early to mid-90s). The team was pretty miserable those years IIRC*.

  • I try to block out those memories, so I can’t be sure of the details.

In addition, where did the stereotype of the european kicker come from? The only one I can think of off hand is Sebastian Janikowski, but the stereotype seems to persist. Am I missing a ton of kickers, or were they more prominent in the past?

Goodness! Isn’t that ball hard? Do they have insteps like rocks or something?

I believe it was the vogue in the NFL to have a soccer-style kicker a few years back. The soccer-style kickers came from Europe.

Or . . . was and still is the vogue. I do not think anyone has kicked straight-on (as opposed to soccer style) since maybe Mark Moseley or some other holdout. Even through the '70s, the straight-on guys were regarded as an anachronism, and there were maybe only (WAG) 3 in the league in any given year.

The Gogolaks introduced soccer-style kicking in the '60s. As Americans didn’t play soccer (much) then, NFL kickers skewed heavily foreign-born or origin (mostly European – Stenerud, Yepremian, von Schamann; some Brits – John Smith (?); and a Nigerian or Mexican or two – Rafael Septien, and the one guy from T.B. got arrested for heroin trafficking).

A fair number of the soccer style kickers were barefoot (actually, wore one shoe, on the non-kicking foot), claiming it helped them control or feel the ball better. I never saw a straight-on kicker go barefoot. It (barefoot, not s.s.) does seem to have drifted out of vogue but – just to start the post the way I started it – I don’t have a cite or statistics on this.

The “soccer-style” kicker is in contrast to the “straight-on” kicker, which hasn’t been seen in the league for some time. The last one of those that I can recall is Mark Moseley, who retired in 1987 after playing most of his career with the Redskins.

For a LONG time, football kickers ran straight-on to the ball, and made contact with the toe of the kicking foot (see the photo of Moseley in the link above).

According to this article, Pete Gogolak of Hungary was (in 1964) the first kicker in the NFL to use the “new” style - basically the way that soccer players have been kicking the ball for a very long time. The approach is more curved, and contact is made with the instep rather than the toe.

While crediting Gogolak as the first “sidewinder”, the above article touts Swede Jan Stenerud as the one who really made people notice that style:

As I recall, many more of the original “soccer-style” kickers were brought to the US from Europe, where they had played soccer previously. I imagine that this is where the “European-style” term comes from, although I very rarely hear that term used when discussing kicking. To finish with a further quote:

Aside from the fact that “soccer-style” kicking is more accurate and kicks the ball further, it has no drawbacks. :slight_smile:

There have been barefoot kickers in the NFL in the past, most notably Tony Franklin (Eagles) and Mike Lansford (Rams), but I haven’t seen any in a while.

This may be because it’s illegal to kick barefoot in high school and so no one learns to kick that way. I don’t believe there was any advantage to kicking barefoot.

My point is not that the soccer style has died out, it obviously hasn’t. but rather that the majority of soccer style kickers(read: all kickers) no longer come from europe.

Last guy I remember who kicked barefoot was Rich Karlis. I only remember that because of the very unusual last name.

Incidentally, Tony Franklin held, and may still hold, the college football record for longest field goal at IIRC 65 yards. So for years, the record holders in the pros and college were a guy with half a foot and a guy that went barefoot. Maybe there’s something to kicking barefoot. Or at least not kicking like your average kicker.

The Division I-A record for longest field goal is 67 yards held by Russell Erxleben of Texas, Steve Little of Arkansas and Joe Williams of Wichita State. They all used a tee.

The longest field goal made without a tee is 65 yards by Martin Gramatica of Kansas State.

However, all these guys wore shoes.

Last year, Jeff Wilkins of the St. Louis Rams kicked barefoot for a little while. Apparently it didn’t work out.