A long time ago, on a football field far, far away, there was a great kicker that was basically automatic. He was loved by fans of a team with a horseshoe everywhere, and when he trotted on a field, you knew that the kick would be good. Which is why this Sunday should have been no different. Sure his team was losing 21-18 in this divisional playoff tussle, but the game was at home, and this kicker never missed at home. He would make the 46-yard kick, send the game into OT, then eventually, his team would give him a shot to win it. Then something strange happened. After pointing over at the other teams bench after they called a timeout to “ice” him, he game-tying kick did something he never thought it would do. Sail wide right. The great kicker was never heard from again.
Okay, that story is not 100 percent true, but you get the point. The story is about former Colts and now unemployed NFL kicker Mike Vanderjagt, who today is still making zero money as he sits at home and waits for his phone to ring, hoping that a new team will come calling. Vanderjagt did play last season, and not very well, making just 13 of 18 kicks with the Cowboys. This after he was ushered out of Indianapolis after the kick heard round the world against the Steelers was missed in the 2005 divisional playoff game. His attitude was that all he had to do was wait, and eventually he would find work elsewhere, making good money.
He did just that, signing a 3-year-deal with Dallas. The match was one that never came close to working out. First he hurt his groin, then when he did return for the last preseason game, he missed two overtime field goals, and the game ended in a tie. Then, as the season moved along, he was awful, getting a field goal blocked, then missing two field goals against his old team. On November 27th he was released by the Cowboys, ending what turned out to be an awful few month realtionship.
Vanderjagt has gone from the penthouse to the outhouse in the world of the NFL. He was the cat’s meow of kickers, kicking game winners right and left. That season in which he missed the 46 yarder against the Steelers in the playoff game, he was 23-of-25, and was perfect at home. All of that now means nothing. Vanderjagt did have a tryout recently with the New York Giants, and according to his agent, it “went well.” Instead, the team went with Marc Hickok. Yes, Marc Hickok, formerly of not Arena Football….but Arena Football 2.
Never the most well liked guy, Vanderjagt has written his own story. He has in the past made comments about players, even his own teammates, that didn’t go over well. He has shunned the media, taken the arrogance route at every turn, and now sits without a place to kick. Despite that, his agent, Gil Scott, says that his client will kick again. Soon. “He wants to play and he feels he will,” Scott said. “And he says, ‘Whoever gets me is going to get a guy who’s not going to miss.’ ” It’s Vaderjagt’s misses that have put him in this position. It remains to be seen if he can get out of it.