Growing up I played one season of football for Folwell Park in North Minneapolis. By “played” I mean that I tried out, won the starting running back spot, then got particularly bad bronchitis (I was born about seven weeks premature and had bronchial asthma that mostly manifested as chronic bronchitis brought on by an allergy to trees in the fall), and quit. “We” won the city championship that year and I still have that trophy I definitely didn’t earn.
I did, however, play hockey for most of my youth and that year was the last year that I didn’t play hockey year-round like a Soviet prospect in or before 1979. One thing that any hockey player will tell you, is that goalies are weird.
I love my sister. She was the best female goalie in the state (and nation) in her grade back in the late 90’s. Her and I both went to Minneapolis South High School, and back then every city high school had one team for the girls, and four teams for the boys.
The girls team was called the Novas and the Boys teams were South (and Roosevelt), Edison (and Henry), Washburn (and mediocrity), and Southwest (and douche baggery).
Until her senior year she played for the Novas and would bring her team to state and in the summer she would join me and the boys for our summer training program. Her senior year she made the leap to play for the boys team with me, which wasn’t awkward at all, especially when her and I ended up on the front page of the Star Tribune’s sports section (somehow/unfortunately I found the picture from that article, see above (I’m that asymmetrical doofus on the left)).
She ended up playing for the Minnesota Gophers women’s hockey team and I… ended up playing against some of the women from the Olympics team like Natalie Darwitz and Krissy Wendell during the summer.
I love my sister, she is the smartest, most accomplished (she has been in the Strib a couple times since, as one of the best teachers in the country), bravest (if I could find the article that the above image accompanied, it detailed how she jumped a 12’ fence at South and confronted two prostitutes (I kid you not) who had hit a Holocaust survivor with a bottle while I struggled to jump the same fence and muster the same courage) and kindest person I’d ever met, but I bring this up because… Goalies are weird and also from what I surmise, the hockey equivalent of punters.
Perhaps it’s the pressure, or the autonomy, or the type of person it takes to say “Those hard ass pucks? Yeah, I’d love to have them shot at me at up to 100 miles per hour while essentially dislocating my hips and knees!”.
Either way, even my sister would admit goalies are a strange breed.
What does this have to do with football? Or rather with the Vikings?
Vikings punter Britton Colquitt did a Zoom presser today and rocked a pretty self aware shirt.
Breaking news… Punters are people too!
This shirt shows self awareness and also the dynamic that exists on a football team in which punters and kickers are expected to be perfect whilst also really not feeling or being treated like they’re a part of the team.
Friend of the site, former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, has come on my podcast multiple times. One interesting thing he taught me was that both punters and field goal kickers are essentially on island.
Before the Vikings hired former Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding as a kicking consultant, the team (like most others in the league) had no kicking coaches. So when a punter or kicker goes into a slump? They essentially have to fix it themselves.
Even golfers have caddies.
So, while Colquitt’s shirt is 95% funny, there is some truth to what it says.
There is a kicker that I will say is or was on the team for the sake of some anonymity. When that kicker was going through a slump, and one of our writers wrote about it, their family member emailed me explaining, verbatim:
“… And why the kicker that was replaced on one team is doing great on another team. It’s not always the kicker!! There are 3 factors to the kicking equation and when one is wrong it disrupts the entire process. Constantly changing holders, snappers, etc does nothing to help the problem. [Special teams] coaches generally know about returning punts, etc but very little about the actual kicking process.
The ball being off an inch on the ground or titled too much equates to being yards off at the goalpost. Three people have to develop a rhythm and that takes time. To constantly be changing that causes disaster and eventually loss of job. Kickers take a lot of blame for missed kicks when in reality it could be the hold or snap. When’s the last time you heard a snapper or holder take responsibility for a missed kicked ?”
This person was not wrong.
After all, punters are people too. Even if they’re strange people.