#4. Martin Gramatica
Kickers are like pitchers in baseball, power and flash are
entertaining, but consistency and precision are better.
Need proof? See if you remember this name: Mike Vanderjagt.
A year ago, Jerry Jones opened his wallet to bring in the most accurate
kicker in NFL history. Not only was Vanderjagt exceptionally
successful during his years in Indianapolis, he also earned a reputation for
being a little insane. That was forgiven, because good kickers have to be
a little nuts. They have to be able to forget their last misses, and be
oblivious to the 80,000 people watching them line up for a potential
game-winning field goal. Vanderjagt seemed to relish is "eccentric
kicker" role. He showed up in Dallas with blond frost in his hair, with his
name tattooed under a Nike swoosh (or a MIKE swoosh) on his ankle, and
said things that were sufficiently bizarre and outlandish that fans
began to think "this guy just might be weird enough to work out."
Weirdness was not a problem; accuracy was.
When Gramatica arrived, he appeared to be the polar opposite of
Vanderjagt. He immediately hit a game-winning field goal. He looked like a
little kid, in comparison (Vanderjagt looks like a small forward, while
Gramatica is listed, perhaps generously, at 5-8, 170). As he
settled in with his new team, he pleaded with media not to interview him,
saying things like "I don't deserve the attention" and "I'm just trying to
fit in." This was coming from a guy in his seventh NFL season, who had
established himself as a reliable kicker. He might not drill a 60-yard
bomb (although he can, on occasion), but he is consistently accurate
from 40 or 45 yards in. Anyone who doesn't think that's sexy enough just
needs to re-visit the Vanderjagt experiment.
Most Underrated Cowboys: #4
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