With so much pressure on NFL kickers, and kickers at any level for that matter, it shows that these guys are truly playing for the love of the game. They only get called upon when their team’s offense fails to make it into the end zone, yet if they miss a field goal, they get all of the blame. You hardly ever hear anyone bashing a quarterback, who has several pass attempts per game, for only completing maybe 70 percent of their passes during a game. David Akers has painted the perfect picture for the life as an NFL kicker who is not performing at his best this season.
David Akers has missed 13 field goals this year, which resulted in him finishing the season with a 69 percent field-goal conversion rate. This was the worst performance he has ever had since 1998, but he has historically been an excellent kicker. All it took was on season full of shanked kicks and kicks that hit the crossbar and bounced out when they just as easily could have bounced in. As a result of his performances, he has been seen slamming his helmet, sitting on the sidelines disgusted with himself and had fans booing him left and right.
One fan took things a step further, much further, when he made a death threat against Akers if he were to miss one more field goal. The fan allegedly posted on Aker’s Twitter account, which was later deactivated, “miss one more field goal you about to get your life ended.”
Then, when Akers thought that he was his own worst critic, his own coach even seemingly stopped believing in him. The 49ers head coach, Jim Harbaugh, added another kicker, Billy Cundiff to the team’s roster just in time for the playoffs. For those who do not remember, Cundiff ended last season on a bad note as he also missed a field goal in the AFC Championship last year, which would have sent the game to overtime. Of course, Harbaugh ended up releasing Cundiff before last Sunday’s championship game.
David Akers has proven that kicking in the NFL is only for those who are playing for the love of the game and not just for the money. If you are not converting nearly all of your field goals, regardless of distance, fans will boo you for virtually the rest of your career. However, kickers rarely receive positive feedback from fans unless they nail a game-winner.