A great person retired this last week….. and no I dont mean Oprah I am speaking of the quietest record breaking career for a place kicker, Matt Stover.
Time and time again, most every guest we have had on the radio show has said,” emulate a professional and it will help you take your game to the next level.” In my opinion there is no better professional kicker to emulate than recently retired 19 year NFL veteran Kicker, Matt Stover.
Stover played college football at Louisiana Tech University where ended his career 64-88 in field goals including a 57 yard field goal against Texas A&M. In addition to Kicking, his senior year he also punted 36 times for a 34.1 yard average. While his college statistics were less than impressive in consistency, it was his pure leg strength that brought him to the NFL. It was known that he frequently kicked his kickoffs through the uprights.
Stover was selected 329th overall by the Giants in ’91 but couldn’t usurp the incumbent kicker, Matt Bahr. He was picked up by the Cleveland Browns and the rest was history,
From 1991-2008 Matt Stover was a mainstay for the Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens. In his time with the Browns/Ravens, Stover appeared in 2 Probowls and was a SuperBowl Champion with the Ravens in 2001. Up until 2008 when he was released by the Ravens, Stover was the last remaining original Cleveland Brown since the team moved to Baltimore. As a testament to his skills, at age 40 Stover was picked up by the Indianapolis Colts to fill in for the injured Adam Vinatieri. With the Colts, Stover had two great accomplismnts, a game winning PAT against the Patriots with 13 seconds left, and in 2009 being the oldest player to appear in a Superbowl at 42.
While Stover came into the league and was known for his leg strength, 8 years into his career he made a change from distance to accuracy. It was best described by him in his golf analogy.
“I had to take away my 3- and 4-iron out of my golf bag, and I could only go out there with a 7-iron with it,” Stover said. “I mean, it really took some clubs out of the bag when I did it, but it was all about survival, and 48 yards and in was pretty good. After that, I was OK. I mean, I’m out there trying to hit a 190[-yard] shot with a 7-iron. And that’s not easy to do.”
Needless to say his adjustments yielded amazing results, from 1997 to the end of his career Stover didnt miss a PAT. That means that 14 year olds would be led to believe that Matt Stover cant miss PAT’s. Stover’s consecutive PAT record is the longest in the NFL 422, along with that record he also hold the record for most consecutive games with a field goal, 38. These two records also go along with him being ranked top 10 in every kicking statistic in NFL history including 4th all time for Field Goals.
Along with his kicking records, he is the 4th highest scorer all time and the Ravens all time leading scorer.
Stover finished up his illustrious career with a 99.5% PAT conversion rate and an astounding 83.7% field goal conversion rate, with his longest, 55 yards, coming in his first year. His career statistics, should net him the second spot for a kicker in the NFL hall of fame, in addition to his consistency raising the bar in what is expected of kickers.
Besides all of the statistics that proves Stover was a great kicker and person to emulate. Every action has made him worhty of high praise and admiration. From high school his accounts of kicking whether or not his high school teams had practice . In the pros him being humble enough to change his approach to kicking, to him representing the his franchise until he was forced out. In 2009 he helped give local kickers tips, while he wasn’t playing. Finally, even in his press conference where he retired he dressed in Raven colors and spoke nothing but kind words of the franchise that he spent most of his pro career. It should also be mentioned Stover has been a force in the community with his charity.
Basically, any current kickers could do a lot worse than trying to be like potential future Hall of Famer, Matt Stover.
While his form might be mimicked his greatness might not ever be matched again.