In 2005, kicker Jose Cortez should have been named the honorary spokesperson for one of the airlines who offers frequent flyer miles. And maybe even for a luggage company.
He started his season in Dallas, making seven game appearances. Then it was on to Philadelphia where he kicked in four games. After that, he got a call to fill in for a week in San Francisco due to an injury to their kicker.
Determined to find a team that would value his talent, he and his agent, Bruce Tollner, continued to look for the right opportunity. And it came in mid-December when the Colts realized that rookie kickoff specialist Dave Rayner's leg was simply getting worn out by the rigors of his first professional football season.
So they turned to the Cortez and his cannon-like leg. He had a good reputation -- and the stats to back it up -- for booting the ball deep on his kickoffs. Before joining the Colts on December 21st, Cortez's previous 100 kickoffs -- dating back to the 2003 season -- resulted in a average depth of 64.1 yards and 14 touchbacks.
Cortez didn't disappoint the Colts. He averaged 65.3 yards per kickoff in the
Colts' final two regular season games. Against the Steelers in the playoffs, he
averaged 68.5 yards per kickoff, including a touchback.
Translation: The Steelers were usually catching the ball between the one and two yard-line.
Last Friday, Cortez learned that his three-game audition earned him the opportunity to return to Indy in 2006, making him the first unrestricted free agent to re-sign with the team.
"My agent called me and told me the Colts were going to send me a new contract," he said. "I was looking forward to re-signing with the Colts."
Even though he could have waited to see what other offers might roll in, Cortez was eager to rejoin the Colts based on his experience with them last December.
"When I first got there, all the players and the coaches were great to me," he said. "Coach Dungy is a great coach and there are so many great players there.
"I just want to be part of that type of atmosphere. It's that feeling that everyone there has about winning and setting the expectations really high. That's why I really didn't have to wait and think about re-signing."
During those weeks in Indianapolis, Cortez learned that being part of a team of the caliber of the Colts requires extraordinary commitment and excellence from everyone. And he knows in his heart that he can be counted on to be that type of player for Indianapolis.
"For the last few years they've had one of the best kickers in the league, Mike Vanderjagt," he said. "And it's going to be tough to fill that spot. But I feel confident that I'm capable of doing a good job."
ColtPower Premium Members can enjoy this exclusive audio of Jose talking about the upcoming kicker competition in Indianapolis: