Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
On Twitter: dcsportsbog and PostSports  |  Facebook  |  E-mail alerts: Redskins and Sports  |  RSS

Justin Medlock and being a black kicker


(By Steve Russell - Toronto Star)

I felt like I was recreating the fabled Doug Williams Super Bowl Media Day story when I asked Justin Medlock about being a black kicker at minicamp the other day. But jeez, how can you not ask? According to the Kansas City Star, Medlock in 2007 became the NFL's first African-American place-kicking specialist since Gene Mingo in the early 1960s.

Donald Igwebuike kicked, but he was from Nigeria. Danny Kight was a kickoff specialist. Reggie Roby and Rodney Williams were punters. Shaun Suisham was...well, he wasn't black.

"I don't like to make it a racial thing," said Medlock, a fifth-round draft pick who was signed by the Redskins in February. "I don't know, it's kind of weird. There's been more black kickers, but not at this level."

UPDATE: A reader points out that Cedric Oglesby kicked for the Arizona Cardinals in 2001, making five of six attempts. Apologies.

Medlock's father, Robert, was a well-decorated U.S. sprinter, and he grew up playing soccer at Mission San Jose High in Fremont. The first time he asked to kick for his prep football team, he was told he'd also need to play another position, and he didn't want to give up soccer. The next year, coaches said he could just kick.

His school, he said, was majority Asian. He was only the black player on the football team. And he was strictly a place kicker. Not to completely traffic in stereotypes here, but you don't see many football teams where the wide receivers and running backs are Asian and the kicker is black.

"That was the funny part of our team," Medlock agreed. "We were 1-9 our senior year, and the next year we didn't have a varsity team. If I would have stayed one more year I wouldn't have been able to play football. It was kind of funny. They disbanded the team and made it just a JV team."

But Medlock moved on to UCLA, where he became an All-American, and he was drafted by the Chiefs in the fifth round. He said the black kicker thing just never concerned him much, even when opponents would try to heckle him.

"I can hear it from other teams -- Oh, a black kicker? They'll try to get in your head and stuff.....I don't really try to pay attention to that too much. I'm too focused."

Somewhere during this conversation, Skins blogger Matt Terl pointed out that Medlock's girlfriend, Hannah Jun, happens to be a pro golfer for whom he sometimes caddies. She's currently 12th on the LPGA Futures Tour; the top 10 will get LPGA membership. He said that kicking and golfing have certain similarities -- judging wind direction, for example -- and while Jun can dominate him on the course, he brings certain traits to their pairing.

"Mentally, I think I'm a little stronger than her," he said. "She feels like she wants to cry all the time."

As for Medlock's skills, he replaced Mike Vanderjagt with the Toronto Argonauts last year, where he made 40 of 46 field-goal attempts while also handling kickoffs and punts. But his girlfriend had to find a different caddie.

So anyhow, the Redskins now have one kicker who's Scottish, and another who's black. That's unique.

By Dan Steinberg  |  May 11, 2010; 4:41 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: D.C. Council committee recommends tax on sports tickets
Next: Donovan McNabb's Philly house is for sale

Comments

BFD. I'd settle for Kathy Ireland if she didn't choke from inside 40 yards.

Posted by: Scoonie97 | May 11, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I could not care less.

Posted by: DCFanatic | May 11, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

I always used to think Eddie Murray, the kicker, was black. Oh man, I think because I grew up an O's fan, Eddie Murray is black to me, no matter what sport he played. Haha oops, I've been wrong since 1995 when he played for the Skins. I literally just found out he wasn't black. Wow, I need to turn my Redskins card back in. Haha

Posted by: destewar | May 11, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

What the hell is the "Shawn Suisham was... well he wasn't Black" reference all about ? Steinberg is an idiot !

Posted by: ellislawoffice | May 11, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Whatever-come on Steinberg, nobody, I guess except you, cares what color a player is. The only thing that matters is, can they play! Journalism really is dead.

Posted by: 4merskinsfan | May 11, 2010 7:14 PM | Report abuse


It's no wonder there's racism. Who cares if this guy is black? To me, he's a kicker trying to get a job in the NFL. Are we to feel different about him because he's black? I'm sure Wilbon is pulling for him.

BOYCOTT $NYDER-HIRE THE BLACK KICKER!!!

Posted by: hessone | May 11, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

ellislawoffice, no offense but you're the idiot. Steinberg was clearly making a joke about Suisham being Canadian but you missed it.

Posted by: Thundershock | May 11, 2010 8:26 PM | Report abuse

Ok ok ok everyone, calm down. I didn't say him being a black kicker matters in some important way, I just thought it was mildly interesting. Especially considering

1) Medlock's one of the first black kickers in 40 years.

2) Opponents heckle him about it.

This isn't front-page news. It's one-half of one of 40 weekly blog posts. Maybe you're also not interested in the fact that his girlfriend is an aspiring pro golfer, but I think it's mildly interesting. That's all.

Posted by: DanSteinberg1 | May 11, 2010 8:34 PM | Report abuse

Once You Go Black.....................

Posted by: vexed50verizonnet | May 11, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Nothing unusual for the Redskins. Gene Mingo played for Washington back in the day, I do believe.

Posted by: msuic76 | May 11, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Gene Mingo kicked for the Redskins briefly around 1967 or 68 because Charlie Gogolak was injured.They even had Charley Taylor kick off in one game,I believe.I've always wondered why no one has ever brought up the fact that there have been so few African American kickers.Now I have a question.Does anyone know who the first American soccer-style kicker was?

Posted by: seanmg | May 12, 2010 1:27 AM | Report abuse

yea u guys are all morons for being offended even mildly by this piece. ALl steins doing is making an observation that happpens to be kinda interesting. Granted its not VERY interesting, yet Its a fact. He happens to be one of the only black kickers to play the game. STop being so P.C. As a journalist he's paid to write what he sees and what strikes him as interesting. Im going to sleep.

Posted by: bbachrac | May 12, 2010 4:53 AM | Report abuse

OT: Another vote to bury sweet caroline. I would like to suggest replacing it with "Thats All Right Mama", which would be better for the guy dancing too! I like the Elvis version, but you can get tape of Led Zeplin, Canned Heat, or any of dozens of other covers.

Posted by: angusgoodson | May 12, 2010 5:14 AM | Report abuse

Is Ray Finkle still playing? If so, we should invite him to camp. Snowflake too.

Posted by: fushezzi | May 12, 2010 7:52 AM | Report abuse

I wonder how long he's been a black kicker?

Posted by: Section104 | May 12, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

OT: Another vote to bury sweet caroline. I would like to suggest replacing it with "Thats All Right Mama", which would be better for the guy dancing too! I like the Elvis version, but you can get tape of Led Zeplin, Canned Heat, or any of dozens of other covers.

Posted by: angusgoodson | May 12, 2010 5:14 AM | Report abuse

I am with you on dumping sweet caroline the Nats should do a fan vote at the park like we do with the AS game every year for a new song.

Personally I would love some Journey (everyone can sing journey)

Posted by: alex35332 | May 12, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

It's always seemed a little strange that there isn't a single black punter or kicker. Let's see what this guy can do. He certainly seems to have ample leg flexibility...

Posted by: randysbailin | May 12, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

The Bog will have to wait until the season to make this assessment, of course, but I used to have UCLA season tix when Medlock was the kicker and just so you know... he's really, really good. Clutch, big leg. I was shocked when KC released him, but maybe he needed a year to acclimate or something. Our good fortune. I'd put money on it that the Skins have their kicker for the next ten years.

http://www.argonauts.ca/video/index/id/7969

How many kickers get their own highlight reel on their teams website? Kickers who go 7-7 in one game including 3 from beyond 50.


Posted by: bigfoot1 | May 12, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Wasn't there a Cheap Seats column several years ago about the lack of kickers on D.C. high school teams?

Posted by: doubleuefwhy | May 12, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

This is one of the dumbest bogs ever. Who freaking cares?

Posted by: Ratzoe | May 12, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Well, the Skins had Roby for a few years and he was money so maybe Medlock will be too. Anything would be better than watching Suisham shank a 30 yarder under minimum pressure.

Posted by: JAMNEW | May 12, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

yea u guys are all morons for being offended even mildly by this piece. ALl steins doing is making an observation that happpens to be kinda interesting. Granted its not VERY interesting, yet Its a fact. He happens to be one of the only black kickers to play the game. STop being so P.C. As a journalist he's paid to write what he sees and what strikes him as interesting. Im going to sleep.

Posted by: bbachrac | May 12, 2010 4:53 AM | Report abuse

I find it funny you call people morons yet don't even have the slightest clue what is and what is not "P.C." Political correctness IS calling attention to things like "the first minority ______", or "the first female ________" etc. Being offended by the media's constant politically correct obsession with race--which manu feel separates us all, rather than brings Americans together--is anything BUT "P.C.". So...sorry, bbachrac, but you have no idea what you are talking about.

That said, I think Steinz gets a pass because he doesn't seem to have any agenda with a piece like this--unlike, say, Mike Wilbon (who someone else previously said will likely be "pulling" for this kicker, solely because of his skin color)

Posted by: Barno1 | May 12, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand why this is the subject of an article, or blog or whatever it is. As long as he can do his job well in a professional manner, he won't be black or purple or white or blue in my eyes... just a football player doing his job. As long as people point race issues out and make a big deal out of it, there will be race related problems. Take race related articles out of sports, please!!

Posted by: bsdman | May 12, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Why should you care, you ask? You sound like the people who don't think they need a helmet to ride a motorcycle; people who think that way are probably right. Where was I? Oh, yes. The reason you should care who the kicker might be is because the kicker is almost always the team's leading scorer, and you want to have a good one. You're welcome.

Posted by: chorister | May 12, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I find it funny you call people morons yet don't even have the slightest clue what is and what is not "P.C." Political correctness IS calling attention to things like "the first minority ______", or "the first female ________" etc. Being offended by the media's constant politically correct obsession with race--which manu feel separates us all, rather than brings Americans together--is anything BUT "P.C.". So...sorry, bbachrac, but you have no idea what you are talking about.

That said, I think Steinz gets a pass because he doesn't seem to have any agenda with a piece like this--unlike, say, Mike Wilbon (who someone else previously said will likely be "pulling" for this kicker, solely because of his skin color)

Posted by: Barno1 | May 12, 2010 10:43 AM

Umm being PC doesn't specifically mean distinguishing exactly what person's race or sex is, it means in most cases the exact opposite, to not make that person's race or sex important or known. Maybe you need to understand that Political Correctness can take many forms, and I consider everyone here calling steins out for writing this article, JUST because he's black and therefore its wrong, to be way too PC and overthinking the matter. Maybe it was a bad choice of words but u understood my point. He's a black kicker, thats rare. If he was a 350 pound kicker would that make interesting news to you? Where's the difference? By saying he's calling attention to a race issue, u urself are making it a race issue. Hence, you're stupid.

Posted by: bbachrac | May 12, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

That said, I think Steinz gets a pass because he doesn't seem to have any agenda with a piece like this--unlike, say, Mike Wilbon (who someone else previously said will likely be "pulling" for this kicker, solely because of his skin color)

Why is it so bad for Wilbon to be rooting for him anyways? Like i said, stop being so PC...I myself will be rooting for him and more than a little of that is due to his race and position. Do you not find yourself rooting for black hockey players or white running backs? They're rare and so you wish them well and wanna see them perform good... squash those stereotypes.

Posted by: bbachrac | May 12, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

bbachrac,

Hate to break this to you, but you just demonstrated without any doubt that you haven't the faintest clue what political correctness is. Widespread use of the term came about in the early 90s during the culture wars, as mostly social conservatives used the term to define what they saw was liberal attempts to curtail speech to make words and phrases less offensive. For instance, using the term African American rather than simply black--as Steinberg did in this piece.

Over the years the term has broadened by conservatives to include any number of efforts from the political left, and today one of the biggest and most commonly understood aspects of political correctness is identity politics. I suggest you look up exactly what that is because based on your previous comments, you don't have any idea.

Identity politics are as politically correct as they come. And a perfect example is members of the media constantly promoting the first minority _____, first female _____ etc (i.e. the first black NFL kicker in decades). Knocking the newsworthiness of identity politics of this kind is the definition of being political incorrect. Though I don't necessary think Steinberg was being PC, since as I said before he doesn't seem to have much of an agenda, nevertheless those on here that argued that we shouldn't care what Justin Medlock's skin color is (read: identity politics) were all being politically incorrect, whether you realize this or not.

Posted by: Barno1 | May 12, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Why is it so bad for Wilbon to be rooting for him anyways? Like i said, stop being so PC...I myself will be rooting for him and more than a little of that is due to his race and position. Do you not find yourself rooting for black hockey players or white running backs? They're rare and so you wish them well and wanna see them perform good... squash those stereotypes.

Posted by: bbachrac | May 12, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse]

Ok, now you're just embarrassing yourself. First of all, Wilbon rooting for someone simply because of his skin color is PC--knocking him for doing so is politically incorrect. Not the other way around.

"They're rare and so you wish them well and wanna see them perform good."

Second of all, one does not perform "good." Good is an adjective, not an adverb. I believe the term you were looking for was "well." Well modifies verbs, adjectives and other adverbs and good modifies nouns.

You have a lot to learn my friend.

Posted by: Barno1 | May 12, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

For me personally, I feel like saying I don't care about the guy's race as long as he performs WELL is being completely PC. If you were to say I'm rooting for him because he's black and I want to see him do well as a black kicker, just because his race, that's not pc. JUST because he's a minority doesn't make this second position pc. If you were to say I want this white guy do to well just cuz he's white, is that pc? You're wrong.

Posted by: bbachrac | May 12, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

WOW big man! does correcting my grammar make you feel smart? You sound like my mom. I know when to use 'good' and when to use 'well.' I'm an english major. I also know that writing a term paper is much different from commenting on a blog. I don't spell check everything I write and I definately don't have the time to nitpick at other people's grammar, ESPECIALLY when it's as minor as using 'good' in place of 'well.' Get a life loser.

Posted by: bbachrac | May 12, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company