Many Aussie Rules footballers have found the path to fortune, if not fame, by becoming punters in the NFL.
The most recent is Michael Dickson, who is setting the NFL on fire with his teammates, coaches and game analysts heaping praise on him for his “unique skill set.”
Dickson showed enough promise that the Seattle Seahawks dropped veteran Jon Ryan from the roster to make room for Dickson.
No, Dickson will not be in charge of Seattle’s wagering. He will be one of two kicking specialists on the team.
Punter has to be the best job in the NFL. You make lots of money and you do almost nothing. Yet, the fortunes of a team often are impacted significantly by the skillset of the punter.
Dickson was a Sydney Swans prospect at one time. Once a bird from an “S” city, always a bird from an “S” city?
Ryan has held the punting job with the Seahawks for a decade and he experienced the reality that faces all kicking specialists. There are 32 teams in the NFL. Each team carries one placekicker to handle kickoffs, extra points and field goals. Each team carries one punter, who only gets to play when the offense of his team sputters and is forced to turn over possession of the football to the other team.
That equates to 64 jobs from a pool of applicants with equal talent, meaning that NFL clubs can always find a punter for far under the price they pay for a veteran, leaving them free to lavish phenomenal sums on marquee quarterbacks, even some whose value is dubious at best.
Essendon’s Jordan Berry has been punting for the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2015. After this season, he will be eligible to test the market and he will undoubtedly, at some point in the near future, find that his pay envelope has grown, leaving him vulnerable to other Aussies who have chosen the route taken by Sav Rocca, who parlayed a long AFL career into a long NFL career.
A kick by a punter is one of the few times a foot actually touches a ball in the game of American football.