When an NFL running back hits age 30, he's considered to be on the downside of his career. A kicker turns 30 and coaches view him as a battle-tested veteran.
The average NFL player's career lasts 3 1/2 years. A kicker's career can last much longer.
More than half of NFL teams have a kicker age 30 or older.
“The hardest part is getting in,” said Cary Blanchard, who kicked eight seasons in the NFL. “Once you get in you can have a pretty good career.”
But even a veteran like Blanchard, who played at Oklahoma State and now lives in Edmond, was waived eight times.
Blanchard made 77.1 percent of 214 career field-goal attempts and still bounced around the league.
“If you have a bad game, you show up on Monday and they might have two or three guys kicking,” Blanchard said. “My problem was I seemed to end up with teams that changed coaches. One year I made the Pro Bowl. They changed coaches. He wanted his own guy and I was released.”
In the salary cap era, some teams go with a young kicker to save a little money. But most coaches prefer a veteran who's attempted game-on-the-line kicks.
Dan Bailey wasn't drafted out of OSU, which enabled him to shop around. He chose Dallas and ended up getting the job.
“For me it was a matter of trying to find a team I could really compete for the job, not just be a (training) camp leg,” Bailey said. “There isn't a lot of turnover. If you get an opportunity and perform well, you can do this for 10 or 15 years.”