Guest Blog: The Curse of Ray Guy
Things must be going well for the Skins if we're obsessed with a rookie punter. But alas, I continue to get a lot of emails and questions about Durant Brooks, and this engaging guest blog from Ami Rozmaryn.
Mr. Rozmaryn has done some interesting research on precisely how some top college punters - winners of the Ray Guy Award, like Brooks last season - have fared. (Interesting, the only one of these kids to do okay this decade in the NFL, Daniel Sepulveda, was someone Joe Gibbs dabbled with, having business ties to the kid's father from NASCAR. It should also be noted that Ray Guy is a family friend and someone who worked with Brooks as he learning his craft.)
Okay, I'll let Ami take over from here. He writes:
We've been desperate for a good consistent punter since Matt Turk left in '99. If it's important to have a punter we can count on year after year, then we need to be willing to invest a little time in Brooks. I think it will be worth it. He's shown he can do it. If we do get rid of him, though, we should get Sam Paulescu. He punted in week 17 last year for the Broncos, averaging 44.2 and netting 40.0. His preseason totals from the past two years are nine punts for averages of 49.1 yards and 42.2 net yards, which would have put him first in both categories last year.
Here's an interesting and disturbing thing I came across in my studies. Recap of all Ray Guy Award winners:
Kevin "Rocket Shoe" Stemke, winner 2000 Undrafted, 2002
Stemke was dropped by Oakland after after netting an average of 23 yards in three punts Week 2 of '02. He had a total of five punts that year. He had a second chance punting the last eight games (including playoffs) for the Rams in '04, averaging just under 40 yards per punt. He hasn't punted since.
Career Stats (not including playoffs): 38 Punts, 40.2 Avg., 36.2 Net Avg.
Travis Dorsch, winner 2001 4th round, 2002
Dorsch also lasted five punts his rookie year. All of them came in his first game for the Bengals, and two of them came right back the other way for TDs. He too never punted again, but did get the opportunity to attempt a kickoff once that year that went 40 yards.
Career Stats: 5 Punts, 32.4 Avg., 1.8 Net Avg
Mark Mariscal, winner 2002 Undrafted
Mercifully he was never drafted or picked up by a team.
B.J. Sander, winner 2003 3rd round, 2004
Sander played well in Europe his rookie year. When he was called up to Green Bay the next year, he performed admirably. That is, until the temperature started dropping. His average went with it. Over his last five weeks he averaged 35.7 yards and netted 29.1 per punt. I say his last five weeks because the Packers happily played their last two games (and every game since) without their third round pick.
Career Stats: 64 Punts, 39.2 Avg., 33.9 Net Avg.
Dan Sepulveda, winner 2004, 2006 4th round, 2007
Finally, we come to a punter who is still in the league. His rookie year in Pittsburgh he put up very respectable numbers. Fewer than half his punts were returned, and though he did have one returned for a TD, he did have a 32 yard completion, so it evens out. Maybe it takes two Ray Guy Awards for success in the NFL. 16 games, so far so good. "Not so fast" said Ray Guy on the first day of training camp in '08, as he stabbed his Dan Sepulveda Voodoo doll in the ACL. He was placed on IR. Now his career, which hinges on his leg, which hinges on his ACL, is in a very precarious situation.
Career Stats: 68 Punts, 42.4 Avg., 37.9 Net Avg.
Ryan Plackemeier, winner 2005 7th round 2006
Plackemeier not only lasted his entire rookie year for Seattle, but he player superbly. He finished the season tied for 4th in the league in average at 45 yards per punt, and a less stellar but still impressive 37.6 net yards per punt. His next year his average and net slipped 5 and 3 yards respectively. Not too good, but he was still on the team. Plackemeier owns the record among RGA winners, playing two full seasons plus one game. That one game, however, was a doozie. Plackemeier had 11 punts, including one for 31 yards, two for 22 yards each, and one returned for a TD. Two days later Plackemeyer was given a lesson in punting as he was booted off the team and downed just inside his living room.
Career Stats: 181 Punts, 42.3 Avg., 35.5 Net Avg.
Which brings us to our own dear punter. Durant Brooks. How does all this affect him? Is there a Curse of Ray Guy that all winners have no choice but to succumb to? Maybe it's the pressure or the difference between the NFL and college punting games. Maybe it's just that the teams, hoping for a complete, no-hassle punter to be delivered to their door, realized that there is some assembly required, and lost patience. I couldn't say which it is, but it definitely has me thinking. Either way, it's too early to say if Brooks is just another victim of Ray Guy's vengeful jealousy. He's been a mixed bag so far (really); let's see what shakes out.
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