"Who is your all-time favorite football player?"
That question is rarely-- if ever-- answered with the name of a team's punter. If you know of someone who lists a punter as his or her favorite player, I would seriously like to know more about that.
Punters do not have a glamorous job, but they do have an important one. Because of former Steelers punter Drew Butler, opponents often ended up with better field position than they should have had, a situation that proved disastrous when coupled with the Steelers defense-in-decline.
Drew Butler when to punt for the Arizona Cardinals, generating an article on ESPN.com about a particularly horrible game during which he had a season-low average of 34.8 yards per punt. Butler said, "Didn't help the defense out. My job is to help win field position, and I contributed to us not winning field position."
The Steelers have relied on six different punters in the last four seasons and have yet to find the player they can trust to help the defense by landing the opponents as far away from their own end zone as possible. Since the Steelers defense is a unit in transition, giving up valuable yards off of a punt will make a difficult situation even worse.
This summer, competing for the starting job are current punter Brad Wing and Jordan Berry, who improbably hails from the same Australian town as Wing- 10,000 miles away from Pittsburgh.. Triblive.com noted that it is the first time in NFL history that two Australian-born players are on the same training-camp roster. In the entire history of the NFL there have only been nine Australian-born players.
Brad Wing doesn't think it is that unusual to have a fellow Aussie on his team. He told Triblive.com, "You might think it is unusual having two punters from Australia, but it's not new to me. I know it is unique, but it sort of followed me everywhere I went." Wing is referring to the punter who replaced him at LSU who is also Australian.
If Berry makes the final roster, he will be one of those rare success stories. Just last year, he was working a night shift at McDonald's while keeping up with his skills at ProKick Australia. Jordan Berry weighed in saying, "There is an opportunity here, but at the same time there is a guy who already has the job. I have to go out and do what I can do and win the job."
Hopefully whoever wins won't make the defense's job more difficult and won't be featured in ESPN stories about really crappy punting. Will the man they chose be your favorite player of all-time? Probably not, but he will have a big role to play in a successful season.