Thursday, November 09, 2006

Kick This!

My occassional piece of kicker wisdom. Today's gem comes from kicker patron saint Lou Groza:

"All of life is mastering the fundamentals, its stance, approach, contact and follow-through. Truth is where the toe meets the ball."

Here's a little background on Lou "The Toe" Groza, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Born to Hungarian immigrants in Martins Ferry, Ohio, a decidedly athletic family, he was the smallest (at 6' 3") of three brothers. He played one season for Ohio State University, where he was a member of Alpha Tau Omega, before being drafted into the Army. Upon discharge, Groza joined the Browns, who were then in the All-America Football Conference. He stayed with the team until 1959. After a brief retirement, he returned to play from 1961-1967. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, his 21 years of play was unprecedented up to that time, and when he retired, he was last of the original Browns still active.

While renowned for his kicking ability, Groza also played and started during most of his career as offensive tackle for the Browns. He was very proficient at both positions, named nine times to the NFL Pro Bowl and was All-NFL tackle six times. Groza also led the NFL in field goals in 1950, 1952-54, and 1957. In 1950, his field goal with 30 seconds left won the NFL Championship Game. In 1957, he also co-led the NFL in scoring. He was named the Sporting News' NFL Player of the Year in 1954. However, he played exclusively as a kicker during his second stint with the Browns.

Groza was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974. His number 76 is retired by the Browns. The Palm Beach County Sports Commission established the Lou Groza Award in 1992, an award given to the best NCAA Division I kicker. In 1999, he was ranked number 99 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players.

Lou Groza co-wrote a biography of his time playing football called "The Toe: The Lou Groza Story".

Groza was very close friends with Art Modell. However, when Groza died, Modell was unable to attend his funeral due to lingering resentment concerning the original Browns' departure from Cleveland.

The "Lou Groza Rule" in the NFL prohibits use of artificial aids for kickers. Lou used tape and later a special tee with a long tail to help him guide his foot to the sweet spot of the football when kicking. The 1956 rule banned Lou's tape.

Wikipedia link

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