New ESPN column today. I’ll add the link when it goes live. [Update: Oops, no ESPN column today after all — it’s been bumped to next week.]
Meanwhile, check out this coincidence: Yesterday’s Comments section included a bit of chatter about kickers who wear mismatched shoe colors (punters, too), which then segued into a discussion of barefoot kickers. I read some of those comments, and then I did some photo research for another column. And that’s when I came across some photos of Layne Neumann.
Neumann is the kicker for Texas A&M, and he does something I’ve never seen before: He kicks while wearing a sock (additional views here and here, the latter of which should appeal to those dirty-sock fetishists who flock to Witesock’s site). Anyone know of other kickers or punters who’ve done this?
Personally, I’ve always liked barefoot kickers. The ones who come most readily to mind are Rich Karlis (note his admirable attention to sock stripes, even on his bare leg), Tony Franklin (who did his college kicking at Texas A&M — perhaps he was an inspiration to Neumann?), and Mike Lansford. But here are some you might not know about:
Ã¢â‚¬ ¢ Johnson Lau: Lau grew up playing barefoot football — “a popular version of the gridiron sport in the pre-World War II days,” according to this article — and then became a standout barefoot placekicker, dropkicker, and punter in college and grad school during the 1940s. The Eagles encouraged him to enter the NFL draft in 1941, but he decided against it.
Ã¢â‚¬ ¢ Dick Kenney: Kenney, who grew up in Hawaii and kicked for Michigan State in the 1960s, nailed a 47-yard field goal in the 1966 “Game of the Century” between the Spartans and Notre Dame. He appears to be the only barefoot kicker who hit the ball straight-on, instead of soccer-style. Yowch! There’s some good info on him in this old article from Time (which also features cool info on lots of other 1960s kickers). And according to this page on the Helmet Hut web site, Kenney “never had pro football aspirations simply because of his unusual kicking style, which was not allowed in the NFL” — odd, since the Eagles had courted Johnson Lau two decades earlier. I’ve asked Helmet Hut prexy Curtis Worrell if he can clarify this — I’ll post an update when I hear back from him.
Ã¢â‚¬ ¢ Rob Hart: You might not realize that there was a barefoot kicker in the NFL just a few years ago. That would be Hart, who had a few cups of coffee with the Bucs and Dolphins in 2002 and 2004. He’s spent the rest of his career in NFL Europe.
Ã¢â‚¬ ¢ Andrew Sullivan: Sullivan kicked for Yale until graduating in 2005. He’s also in the running for the Worst Logo Creep Ever Award: According to this article (which is a good overview of barefoot kicking in general), he drew a Nike swoosh onto his bare foot before each game, which his coach praised as an admirably “team-oriented” move. Pardon me while I go slit my wrists.
Uni Watch Holiday Schedule: We’ll have an open thread tomorrow (I’ll take care of it, John), but I’ll have a regular entry on Friday, and maybe one on the weekend as well. Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Good breakdown of MLS unis here (courtesy of T.J. Zaremba). … Nice history of the Capitals’ jerseys here (gold star to Kim Kolb). … Moises Alou has worn No. 18 throughout his career — with the Expos, Marlins, Astros, Cubs, and Giants, and in the World Baseball Classic. When he signed with the Mets earlier this week, Jose Valentin readily agreed to give up his number. So Alou’s Mets press conference looked like this. … Great article here about fast food, airline, and other corporate uniforms (courtesy of Dominic Litten). … This suddenly makes a lot more sense, in light of this. … Bill Hickman, chairman of the Society for American Baseball Research‘s Pictorial History Committee, has generously provided another photo of those odd Washington Senators uni numbers. … Holiday-themed note from Chris Donham: “Here’s something for people to look for during the 100th Easton-Phillipsburg high school football clash, which is being broadcast on ESPN2 at 9 a.m. on Thankgiving Day. The Easton Red Rovers are sporting throwback helmets this year. The football at the bottom of the white stripe has a number 9, which is in memory of Michael Cummings, who passed away on March 5, 2006. He was an 18-year-old junior quarterback on the Easton Area High football team.” More info and pics here and here. … Weird scene last night in Lawrence, as Kansas wore red alternate unis against Tennessee State, resulting in a red vs. blue game. … A big Uni Watch welcome to the new readers who’ve discovered this site via this MetaFilter link. Come on in — there’s plenty of beer in the fridge.