New York Giants

Quest for Greatness: A Punter’s Tale

A little trivia question: Who holds the NFL record for most consecutive games played?  Brett Favre, of course… right?  Nope.  Incorrect.  Negatory.  Wrongo.  The correct answer is Jeff Feagles.  No, not the crazy kicker from Ace Ventura.  That was Ray Finkle.  “If he had held the ball laces out like he’s supposed to, Ray would never have missed that kick… Dan Marino should die of gonorrhea and rot in hell!”  Jeff Feagles is in fact a punter, currently booting the ball down field after frequent Eli Manning third-and-outs with the Giants.Chances are you’ve had Feagles punting for your team (well at least if you’re a Patriots, Eagles, Cardinals, Seahawks, or Giants fan).  And if you have had him on your team, then chances are your team sucked at that point in time.  41-year-old Jeff Feagles has played in the NFL for 20 years, playing all 16 games in each of those seasons.  Yes, that’s a Charlie Weis size 320 games in a row.  And in all of those games, there has been one common trend that’s plagued Feagles: losing.

Feagles has always been a great punter, carrying the University of Miami to a national championship in 1987, his senior year.  People expected Feagles to go on to great things in the NFL, but it didn’t exactly turn out the way he had hoped.

Feagles was not drafted, but had no worries, as he was signed by the Patriots in 1988, where he was the starter immediately.  Feagles stuck with New England for the ’88 and ’89 seasons, but jumped ship for Philadelphia after the Pats failed to make the playoffs both years.  Feagles’ Eagles (no punt intended) got off to 3 winning seasons with the coffin corner man on their side.  However, they didn’t win a playoff game until 1992, where Feagles won his first playoff game in the Wild Card round, but quickly exited in the divisional playoffs.

Though he was disappointed with the finish to the year, things were still looking up for Jeff Feagles.  Only 26, he was about to enter his punter’s prime and already had a playoff win under his belt.  But things didn’t go so well.  After a sorry 8-8 year with Philly in 1993, Feagles got a needed change of scenery again and headed off to the desserts of Arizona.  Though he enjoyed some personal success with the Cards, earning his first Pro Bowl spot in 1995, Arizona was still losing, and Feagles was quickly being labeled a choke artist.

In 1999, a Feagles team finally reached the playoffs again; this time it was Seattle.  However, Feagles again suffered a one-and-done and whispers were floating around the league that he didn’t have what it takes to win the big one as an NFL punter.

Finally, an abashed Jeff Feagles reached the New York Giants in 2003.  They said he was washed up, but Jim Fassel decided to take a chance on the wily vet.  On the back of their new punter, the Giants finished with a 4-12 record.  Fassel was fired and hard-ass Tom Coughlin was brought in.  A lesser man than Coughlin would’ve immediately used the punter as the scapegoat, but Coughlin saw something.  Despite strong urges from the fans to go after some young blood in the punting game, Coughlin stuck with his man, Feagles.

The next season didn’t go so well either, as the Giants finished 6-10, but they were getting better, and Feagles had proven to be the man for the job.  Then in 2005, Feagles finally got back to the playoffs, but exited quickly in the first round.  He fought through injuries the next year to keep the record alive, but it was another wild card loss in ’06, and Feagles considered retirement.

It was a tough decision for the Feagles family to make, but they decided it was worth it to make one more run at shaking the best-punter-to-only-win-one-playoff-game-in-his-career reputation.  It was the right decision to make.  After putting together their 10-6 season, the team has ridden their 41-year-old punter to two playoff wins, and now has a date with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game.

Some might say the monkey is off his back, as this is the farthest Feagles has ever gone in his 20 year career, but Jeff Feagles will not just settle for the NFC Championship.  He wants the ring.  He’s on a quest.  It’s a quest to become a great punter; the greatest of all-time, even.  This may just be Feagles’ last chance to take home the Lombardi Trophy, and he wants it more than he ever has before.  Because nobody remembers a punter who never wins the big one.

4 replies on “Quest for Greatness: A Punter’s Tale”

funny This was a funny article. As an aside, I’m pretty sure Feagles was on the Giants media guide a couple of years ago, when they were really languishing. Now, whenever he makes a good punt, my bro and I always nod our heads and agree, “that’s why he gets the media guide cover.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *