Let's face it......the guy kicking the game winning field goal gets no love. Kickers are an afterthought to most fans. Sure, when that game winner comes, the rest of the team holds the kicker up in a moment of passion, but it will ultimately be the offense or the defense that gets the headlines come Monday.
Need an example? How many of you honestly remember that without Robbie Gould's game winning field goal in the divisional round of the 2006 playoffs, the Bears may not have made the Super Bowl? Or that he scored 27 points in the postseason in 2006? Or even that he has never missed a postseason kick?
So today we give a little love to one of the most under-appreciated positions on the team (hat tip to sirbrek for suggesting the topic after winning our last Tuesday Bears Trivia!). Follow me to the clearing at the end of the jump and we'll look at Robbie and his brethren.......
I'm gonna start with current kicker Robbie Gould. Why? Because if he's not the best kicker the Bears have ever had, he's damned close. Robbie currently sits 6th all-time in regular season field goal percentage in the NFL, 3rd all-time in overall field goal percentage (includes post season, where he is flawless) as well as being 2nd all-time in chicago in Field Goals Made and 1st all-time in Chicago for FG%. Not bad for a guy who was cut by the Patriots before finding a home in Chicago. Some of Gould's playoff accomplishments are listed above, but he isn't just a postseason wonder. For example, the Bears mounted a 4th quarter comeback against the Packers in week 3 of this season based entirely on special teams scoring. Down 10-7 in the 4th, Devin Hester was his ridiculous self and scored on a punt return. After an Aaron Rodgers TD run gave the Packers a 17-14 lead, the Bears pulled off the come-from-behind victory on not one, but two Robbie Gould field goals. Gould has kicked 12 game winning or game tying field goals in the 4th QTR or overtime in his six seasons in Chicago. Gould truly is gold.
The next obvious choice here is Butthead. Kevin Butler, for all of his personality quirks, is still one of the best and most clutch kickers Chicago has had. He's the Bears all time leader in Field Goals Made, Field Goals Attempted, Extra Points Made, Extra Points Attempted, Field Goals Over 50 Yards and 4th all-time in FG%. Butler is also the team's all-time leading scorer, as well as holding the league record for most points scored by a rookie (144). Interesting bit of Butler trivia: Butler called his then-fiancee from training camp in 1985 to tell her that the they had to change their wedding date because the Bears would be going to the Super Bowl and it would take place on their planned wedding date.
While not technically a placekicker, the last great we'll look at today was the best kicker of his time and sits in the hall of fame. Paddy Driscoll is best remembered as a quarterback and halfback, and as a member of the 1920's all-decade team and the Pro Football Hall Of Fame. But Driscoll was also the best kicker of his time. Statistics are a bit hard to come by for that time period, especially for kicking, but Driscoll is known to have drop kicked field goals over 50 yards, and to have scored 4 drop kicked field goals in a game. Driscoll was a dominant kicker (and offensive and defensive player) for both the Chicago Cardinals and the Chicago Bears. Driscoll is often considered in conversations as to who the first franchise player was, and for good reason, he could beat you in just about every way.
I've laid out a few of the Bears great kickers, but not all of them. Sound off below and let us know what you think of these kickers and where their place in Bears History should be, or about other kickers you think should be considered among these great and undervalued players. And Bear Down, my friends!