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The WCG All-Bears Post-Ditka Team: Kicker, Punter, Longsnapper

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A salute to the guys who put the “foot” in football.

NFC Divisional Playoff: Seattle Seahawks v Chicago Bears Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The WCG All-Bears Post-Ditka kicking unit (click here for the series introduction)

Players in contention

Placekicker: Kevin Butler (1985/1993-1995), Paul Edinger (2000-2004), Robbie Gould (2005-2015)

Punter: Chris Gardocki (1991/1993-1994), Brad Maynard (2001-2010), Pat O’Donnell (2014-2016), Adam Podlesh (2011-2013), Todd Sauerbrun (1995-1999)

Longsnapper: Chris Gedney (1993-1995, in fits and starts), Patrick Mannelly (1998-2013), Patrick Scales (2015-2016)

Patrick Mannelly and Brad Maynard knew greatness when they saw it.

It was the early portions of the 2005 season, and Bears kicker Doug Brien had missed three of his four field goal attempts. After Week 3, the Bears brought in a bunch of kickers for tryouts — what Mannelly refers to as the “clown car.”

He’d seen it in 1999, when the kicker was replaced every few weeks. That search did not yield a longterm solution. As Mannelly told me, this one was different:

Brad Maynard and I noticed (that Gould was better than the competition). Again, it was one of those Tuesdays where we brought in all these kickers. We were really struggling at that point. And Robbie came in with Martin Gramatica, Steve Christie the old Bills kicker, who was old as can be then, and a couple of other guys who had been around for a little while. Robbie gets up there and he might have been the last kid kicking, and all of a sudden he’s hitting these balls that looked way different than everybody else. A lot more height. A lot more pop behind it.

Brad Maynard and I looked at each other and were like, “This kid’s pretty good. But he’s raw.” And they signed him and once he got to Halas Hall everyday we saw how hard he worked and how much better he got throughout the ’05 year. And then because of how hard we worked together, and especially him, during that offseason, you knew you had something special. He got on a roll early and he hasn’t stopped since.

Gould won the job and kept it until his surprise release before last season. During his 11 years in Chicago, he rewrote the Bears record book, becoming the team’s all-time leading scorer and kicking the team into the NFC Championship Game en route to Super Bowl XLI.

In 2006, Gould became the only Bears kicker to make the Pro Bowl or the All Pro team, earning honors for both. Now with the 49ers after spending last season with the Giants, Gould remains a fan favorite, and is the no-brainer selection for the Windy City Gridiron All-Bears Post-Ditka kicker.

(Although shoutout to Paul Edinger for being one of four qualifying kickers in NFL history to never miss an extra point. 164 of 164!)

At punter, we have a bit more competition, but this is also a no-brainer: Brad Maynard.

Joining the Bears in 2001 after setting a dubious mark (though not for him per se) with the most punts in a single Super Bowl, Maynard spent 10 seasons in Chicago, joining only Brian Urlacher, Olin Kreutz, and Patrick Mannelly as members of the playoff teams in 2001, 2005, 2006, and 2010. He led the league in punts and punt yardage in 2004 and even threw a touchdown pass to Urlacher in 2001 on a nifty fake field goal.

The man who snapped that ball to Maynard is none other than the one, the only, Patrick Mannelly. If you haven’t read our interview with Mannelly from last month, you really should.

And so, I will close this post with the following story from former Bears punter Adam Podlesh, about the greatest kick he ever saw from Robbie Gould:

We were on the sideline and he wanted to warm up, but we only had one field because we were at [Olivet Nazarene University's] stadium field. We didn't have a goal post at the time because we had O and D out practicing.

So he said to one of the ball boys, “Just run down to the end line and put your arms up.” Like, to make a goal post. He was about 45 yards out. We do six or seven kicks in a row … and Robbie puts every single one of them between the kid's arms like 45 yards down the field.

Those would be the greatest kicks I've ever seen. Didn't miss one.

Our team:

PLACEKICKER — Robbie Gould

PUNTER/HOLDER — Brad Maynard

LONGSNAPPER — Patrick Mannelly

NEXT WEDNESDAY: the surprise home run hitters of special teams... the return man...

All statistics from pro-football-reference.com, unless otherwise noted.

AND NOW...

YOU BE THE JUDGE

Poll

Who is the BEST Bears kicker of the post-Ditka era (1993-2016)?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Kevin Butler
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    Paul Edinger
    (0 votes)
  • 93%
    Robbie Gould
    (123 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (0 votes)
131 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who is the SECOND BEST Bears kicker of the post-Ditka era?

This poll is closed

  • 61%
    Kevin Butler
    (70 votes)
  • 23%
    Paul Edinger
    (26 votes)
  • 13%
    Robbie Gould
    (15 votes)
  • 1%
    Other
    (2 votes)
113 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who is the BEST Bears punter of the post-Ditka era?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Chris Gardocki
    (1 vote)
  • 84%
    Brad Maynard
    (103 votes)
  • 9%
    Pat O’Donnell
    (12 votes)
  • 0%
    Adam Podlesh
    (0 votes)
  • 4%
    Todd Sauerbrun
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (0 votes)
122 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who is the SECOND BEST Bears punter of the post-Ditka era?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Chris Gardocki
    (9 votes)
  • 8%
    Brad Maynard
    (9 votes)
  • 50%
    Pat O’Donnell
    (53 votes)
  • 11%
    Adam Podlesh
    (12 votes)
  • 20%
    Todd Sauerbrun
    (22 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (0 votes)
105 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who is the BEST Bears longsnapper of the post-Ditka era?

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    Patrick Mannelly
    (75 votes)
  • 27%
    The Mann!
    (32 votes)
  • 4%
    Good ol’ #65
    (5 votes)
  • 5%
    I just call him Pat
    (6 votes)
118 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Who is the best non-Patrick Mannelly Bears longsnapper of the post-Ditka era?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    Jeremy Cain
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Rob Davis
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Thomas Gafford
    (2 votes)
  • 6%
    Chris Gedney
    (7 votes)
  • 14%
    Jay Leeuwenburg
    (15 votes)
  • 0%
    Harper LeBel
    (0 votes)
  • 14%
    Patrick Scales
    (15 votes)
  • 58%
    Other (wait... there are others?)
    (60 votes)
103 votes total Vote Now