Antique Bears: Mac Percival

I've always found the positions of kicker and punter kind of fascinating.

I think one of the reasons is because most of the players filling these roles look like average guys. You almost feel like you could be out there doing what they do...but then you remember you don't have a leg that can boom a ball 40-plus yards.

When I think about it in ancient battle strategy and techniques, the kicker would be an archer - they're not down in the fray, but, rather, they inflict their damage from a distance.

As Bears fans, we really only tend to think about Robbie Gould when this position comes to mind. Partly because he was so good (one of the best to ever do it, honestly) and partly because I don't think the Bears had too many standouts over the years.

When I started to look into Bears kickers of yesteryear, I came across Mac Percival.

4. Mac Percival's 43-yard field goal on a free kick following a fair catch of a punt with :26 remaining gave the Bears a 13-10 win over the Packers on Nov. 3, 1968.

[Photo from]

Percival played for the Bears from 1967-73, before finishing his career with the Dallas Cowboys in 1974. The Texas native lived up to the "everything's bigger in Texas" stereotype with his 6'4", 220 lbs frame - that's a big guy for a kicker in any area!

Over the course of his career (91 games), he managed a 53.2% success rate [190 FGA, 101 FGM] - with this best coming in 1968, where he played a full season and made 25 of 36 field goals for a 69.4% rating. He had a 75% rating in 1973, but that was on 6 of 8 attempts in only four games.

THE Kick

Percival is probably best remembered from his infamous Fair Catch Kick in a game against the Packers (gross).

I never heard of a "Fair Catch Kick" until I read about Big Mac. Apparently, it's one of the rarest plays in the game. In fact, I was having trouble finding official info on it and had to resort to Wikipedia (I know, I know...) for the below blurb:

"The NFL does not keep a record of fair catch kick attempts, so the true number of attempts is unknown. Out of the twenty-four recorded fair catch kick attempts in non-exhibition games, only six were successful; all five known attempts in exhibition games were unsuccessful."

My understanding of the obscure rule is this:

The ball is placed at the spot of a fair catch. There is no snap, instead, the ball is held by a placeholder (just like if it's windy conditions). The offense lines up even with the kicker and cannot pass the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked. The defense lines up 10 yards from scrimmage and can't rush until the ball is kicked - preventing them from having any chance to block it. If made, the kick is worth the same as regular field goal (3 points).


You would obviously have to be within field goal range to even think about pulling this off, and on that day in 1968, the Bears called for a fair catch on the Packers 43-yard line. Taking advantage of :26 remaining on the clock, and catching Green Bay off guard with the gutsy call, Percival buried the field goal to break the 10-10 tie and give the Bears a 13-10 win.

Thanks to YouTube, we can all jump in a time machine and witness the play right here...

Gotta love that straight-on kicking approach. Awesome stuff.

Percival also tied a Bears record in 1968 by kicking five field goals without a miss in a single game to beat the Eagles.

For more stories regarding feats by Bears kickers/punters from over the years, check out this cool piece from the Bears website.

Thanks for tuning in and as always...

Go Bears!

This Fanpost was written by a Windy City Gridiron member, and does not necessarily reflect the ideas or opinions of its staff or community.