Nate Kaeding Comes Home

Just more than a week after missing a game-winning field goal attempt for the San Diego Chargers rookie kicker and former Hawkeye Nate Kaeding met with the media Tuesday in Iowa City. Nate talked about his unfortunate miss, his first season in the NFL, watching the Capital One Bowl, the progress of Kyle Schlicher, playing for Marty Schottenheimer, playing with Tim Dwight and Mike Goff and more in the Premium Q&A.

Opening Statement: The San Diego PR department had some local (Iowa) media requests. I just wanted to make sure I honored that for you guys after the game.

It was kind of a tough way to end the season out there, obviously. We had a lot of ups and downs during the year, but as a team we exceeded expectations coming into the year being at the bottom of the NFL and playing like we did. It was a good first-year experience, but the last kick is something that's tough to go into the offseason with.

But everyone out there was real supportive. As a kicker, I know that everything is real fragile. The makes just kind of go in and some of the misses hit the uprights and fall out. You go with it and learn from it and build on it.

It's actually rejuvinated me and made me think about why I play. I like to play because it challenges me and challenges my character. I'm looking forward to bouncing back from it and having a good sophomore campaign.


Nate, what did Schottenheimer say?

Everyone out there was real empathetic about the entire situation. No one felt worse about it than me. That's something that I worked towards. That's something that I dedicated myself towards. It's tough.

They hadn't had a winning season in eight or 10 years or so. They were all really excited about the opportunity that we had. And it came down there and I had a chance to win the game for us and I didn't come through.

They were all upset, too. They were all empathetic and Coach Schottenheimer went out of his way to make sure that I was doing alright and everything was fine. Coach Schottenheimer was great and he's been around, God knows how many years, 20 or 30 years in the NFL. He could definitely empathize with the situation.

Did you want the ball on that hash mark?

I had been hooking the ball; a nice little hook. So, I figured get it in the middle or right of the middle and just kind of go out there and whale away at it. It just kind of slipped off to the right on me just a hair.

To me, it doesn't really matter where it is on the field in that kind of situation. I know that I've made that kick numerous times before. So, I don't care if it's in the middle of the field or it's off on the sideline. I'd like to think that I could put it through. It's disappointing that it didn't go in for me.

Was your routine not the same before that kick?

It was different because they have those 30-second NFL timeouts so they don't have to go to TV break. I didn't have time to go run back in the net.

It was funny because that game compared to all of the other ones I felt real comfortable and confident about the situation. Like I said, I don't care if they wait an hour or they wait 30 seconds, I still feel as though I should have made the kick. It is what it is.

What's the difference between missing a kick here and missing a kick in the NFL?

I mean, I expect myself to be perfect, so I hate all of the misses. But one that you miss at the end for a playoff win you've got to sit with for five or six months. That's the toughest situation for me.

That's the thing that I thought about after the game. I've been really fortunate in the last six, seven years in my athletic career to have the kind of success that I've had. This is really the first time where it was like, alright, things didn't go good. So, now I've got to buckle down and move forward with it.

I don't know, the NFL it was different because it was my first year and hadn't developed a lot of strong relationships with people. It was kind of hard to go in there wondering what they're saying about me.

Here, you've got your good friends that you've grown up with and family and parents. So, you kind of look back at them as things go wrong.

How did the media handle it?

They were so-so. Some people were down. Some people were up. They kind of understood also.

The media out there, they get the LA media and all of those guys. They like to point fingers and point blame. They were saying that Coach Schottenheimer did this wrong or defense did that wrong. They like to just always kind of pick on the negative.

What helped me out is I went in there and I took responsibility for it. I said that I should have made the kick. If I would have kind of shed the blame off on someone else then it might have went a different direction.

You know, they are what they are and you can't try to put words in their mouth. They're going to write whatever they want to.

Who was the first person on your cell phone?

I don't know. I still have to sort through all of those calls. All of the coaches from (Iowa) had called. They called throughout the entire year when things went well. When things were down, they called, too.

But yeah, there were a lot of calls. I can't even remember who the first one was.

It was kind of an interesting twist of fate that Brien went on to miss two kicks that could have helped the Jets beat the Steelers. Do kickers emphathize with each other?

Yeah. I was hoping that he made it. I didn't want him to go through what I went through. It's a tough situation. He had two tough kicks. He was kicking up in Pittsburgh and he was kicking into the wind. It was cold. Those aren't gimmees by any stretch of the imagination. But that's the way it works for our position.

What about a couple of highlights that you had this year?

It was funny. We have camp up in LA. And everybody is so down about the team. These guys are horrible. They're not going to do anything.

Just going out and seeing how it can build up in a matter of three months, it was night and day. It was fun to be a part of that going into a new city.

I was excited of being in a new city. I grew up in Iowa City and went to college here. San Diego is a wonderful town. You get to play golf during the day. Us kickers and punters and long snappers, we've got a lot more time than everybody else does. When those guys are in there studying blocking schemes, we're out working on our chipping and putting.

The weather out there is beautiful. And really the people are real laid back and cool about everything. It was good first-year experience. We won 12 football games and just came up a little short.

But I'm the kind of person in the athletic sense of it I'm always going to dwell on the things that I need to improve on. And I know that there's definite room for improvement.

How was your adjustment to the pro game?

The toughest thing is you play 20 games. The four preseason games as a rookie you're expected to play to kind of prove yourself. There's a lot of pressure situations and a lot of proving ground to be had even during camp and before that.

With this great weather we're having, how long do you stay here before going back to California?

I've got a tee time next Monday at about 1 o'clock in the afternoon. I'm hoping to make that.

No, it's good to come back and see all of my friends and family. But I've got friends out there and responsibilities out there I need to attend to also.

I'm looking a couple of offseasons down the road to get a place out there and come back and spend a couple of more months out here. Right now, I'm real focused on getting back out there and making sure I get myself situated.

Do you spend a lot of time with Tim Dwight and Mike Goff?

Yeah. I see those guys quite a bit out and about the town after a game or something. Those guys are excellent. It's great to see a familiar face.

We watched those games on Saturday, and for about eight weeks we had something to cheer about with the Hawkeyes, too. We were wearing our Hawkeye gear all throughout the locker room. We were excited with the way things went with the season. It was fun to have those other two Hawkeyes out there.

Were they there for you after the missed field goal?

Yeah. Tim was there. Mike was there. For me, there wasn't very much I could say. I just kind of wanted to be as far away from everybody as I could.

But they were all there; real supportive; Tim especially. He was real supportive through all of it. It was good to have those guys out there with you.

Did you see the Capital One Bowl?

Yes I did. We watched it. I had it on my TIVO. So when a bunch of people (from Iowa) came out for the playoff game, we watched it over and over again. It was pretty neat.

I'm mad they didn't show your run though Bob (Brooks). That's the most famous thing out there.

I thought Schlicher would be the hero.

I actually went into the kitchen to grab a glass of water thinking that they had two timeouts and there would be a commercial or something. I come back in and the ball is floating in the air and I was like, what's going on. Warren catches the pass, and the rest is history.

We were all really excited. We had at least one house screaming out in San Diego, that's for sure.

What are your offseason plans?

We're doing nothing for about a month. As it is for every rookie, you come in the summer before your senior year and you work all the way through. After that, you're ready for your all-star game and then the combine and then your personal pro days and all of this. There's really no time to catch your breath.

I'm going to take this opportunity to put my feet back and take a real objective evaluation of the season and see where I'm at, see what I need to work on and just get back on it sometime in February or March.

When the last time you talked to Kyle? Did he call you a lot?

I talked to him during the year a couple of times. I was really excited to see his progress and how he had performed this year. It was definitely an edge for the Hawkeyes on special teams. Dave Bradley is one of my best friends, to see how he punted there in that last game. Those guys, I'm really proud of the way they played. There's nothing but good things in the future for Kyle.

How much contact did you have with Coach Schottenheimer during the season?

A little bit. He's a real old-school guy. But he was real understanding as the situation went on. He would always come up and be like, "You know what? I hate rookie kickers. But there's something different about you. I think you're going to be alright for us."

So, he was real supportive. It's just kind of like here. No one really coaches you a whole lot as a kicker. They just kind of hope you do the best for them, I guess. That's the easiest way to put it.

Did you know right when you kicked that it was going to miss?

Yeah. You can kind of tell a little bit. I knew that I really didn't get around on it good enough and it just kind of slipped off to the right.

It's kind of one of those things right now when you close your eyes you can kind of see the kick still going out there. It's going to be there with me a little bit. But I'm going to twist it towards a positive for me.

What was the fan reaction like?

I went out a little bit. I didn't hold myself up like a hermit or anything.

I'd be at a store or something and your face is a little more recognizeable when that's the only thing they're talking about for two or three days.

Everybody that came up and mentioned something to me (was nice). I'm sure there were people in the other aisles whispering a little bit. But no one has ever come up to me and said anything negative to my face.

What was the toughest adjustment away from football?

You get home at three o'clock and there's no studying to do. You have other responsibilities. The toughest thing for me was to find something to do with my time.

As a kicker, you have a lot more time than everybody else. You're only there for two or three hours. It's kind of just getting into the routine of not being a college student and being someone that's working. ---

Phil Haddy - As a point of reference, Nate is planning on adding Mrs. Nate Kaeding this summer.

Nate - Yeah. There's a big wedding back in Marshalltown in July. It will be interesting.

Bob Brooks - Is that your college sweetheart?

Nate - Yup

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