Pat McAfee Explains Laces Issue On Missed Kick By Adam Vinatieri
Pat McAfee Explains Laces Issue On Missed Kick By Adam Vinatieri
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INDIANAPOLIS – It’s an awkward situation having to critically critique a guy he loves so much.
But that’s what Pat McAfee has had to do now a couple of times this season with Adam Vinatieri.
Unlike 99 percent of NFL analysts, McAfee knows the art of kicking better than anyone, so his insight is valuable when trying to explain the Colts’ kicking woes.
- On McAfee’s thoughts before Vinatieri took the field before the potential game-winner: “Vinatieri had not been kicking the ball well. I mean Heinz Field is not the easiest place to kick anyways. But he was hitting the ball a little fat. It was going a little sideways, but he was still putting the ball through the uprights. So, walking into that (43-yarder) to win the game, I was a little bit torn. First, I thought it’s Heinz Field. (The Colts) deferred in the first half, so they got the ball in the second half, so they didn’t get to pick which direction they wanted in the 4th quarter, so he’s probably going into the windiest area, which can be tough. But then I thought back to myself, this is Adam Vinatieri. This is a minute left in the game, to win the game. This dude is cold as ice. When he walked onto that field with one minute left I had the back of mind saying, ‘He hadn’t hit the ball that clean today. He’s kicking in a very tough stadium on an end that’s obviously tougher than the other end because they didn’t get to select it.’ But then on the other side it’s like, ‘This dude is the most clutch dude in the history of sports.’”
- On what happened once the ball was snapped: “(Vinny) goes out there and as soon as that ball gets held by Rigoberto Sanchez, incredible punter and I assume he’s a very good holder, I haven’t looked that much. As soon as that ball gets placed and I see the laces staring Adam Vinatieri directly in his eyes, I knew we were in a bad spot. Because not only is he already battling the wind and the conditions and the fact that he hasn’t been hitting the ball clean all day, now he’s got a battle against science. And the science says this, ‘Where the laces are is where the leather comes together. So when you kick the ball on the other side, it’s much firmer because it’s been pulled tight. And the way a bat hits a baseball, how it pops off, and how a driver hits a golf ball, how it pops off is how you want your foot to be with a football. Yes, every time you kick, because the football has air inside of it, it will bend around your foot a little bit and then slingshot off, but when you are hitting the laces side, because that’s where everything is coming together, it is naturally scientifically going to be the softest side of the ball. So whenever you hit that, the ball compresses even more. It wraps up around the foot. It sticks on your foot, so as a righty, when you pull off to the right, then it slingshots off. That’s why anytime you see somebody hit a laces back ball, it’s normally going to be a pull because it stays on your foot longer. How do you make the kick? Great question. Quick adjustment. Open your hips, hit the ball out to the right a little bit, if you see it in time. It’s a very difficult thing. How else do you change it? Well, the snapper and the holder have to be at the same distance they always are. In the middle of the field, it can be a little difficult.”
- On where to lay the blame of the laces issue: “Nowadays in football, the laces are 100 percent the snapper’s job. That’s what the long snapper gets judged upon. Some of these long snappers are so damn good, they can cover kicks well, they can block well and when they snap on field goals, the laces are supposed to be all the way out. Some of these snappers are making millions of dollars a year to do this. It’s so vital to the process. What is happening in the field goal kicking game is everything has gotten quicker as the athletes who have been trying to block kicks have gotten better. So now the entire operation is under 1.25 seconds, 1.3 seconds, from the moment the ball moves, to the moment the ball is kicked. The snapper’s job is to snap it, have the laces facing in a forward way, hit (the holder) right in the hands and then block. The holder’s job is to hold it down. Your first thought is to get it on the right spot, because everything comes down to inches, then you have to get the right lean and then laces. That’s the last thing you think about. But the only thing you are supposed to do with laces is to correct any little error that the long snapper had. When (Sanchez) spun it back towards Vinny, because where your hands you can’t feel it and your eyes can’t see it, you kind of panic a little bit. But when (the laces) are all the way back there and you are trying to spin it all the way around, with how quick these kicks are going, kicking a spinning ball is even worse than kicking a laces ball. So there’s a lot that goes into this where everybody is like, ‘Even with the laces, you should have done this, the holder should have done this.’ It was an operational failure, from snap, to hold, to kick. Could all of them have corrected each other. Yes, they could have.”
- On Vinatieri hitting behind the ball: “A lot of people mention that Vinatieri chili-dipped it, (or) he hit behind the ball. If you are utilizing golf for your reference, that would make sense. In football, kickers hit behind the ball all the time, especially Vinatieri. I said ‘every time’ on Get Up (the ESPN TV show). Let’s not argue ‘every time.’ I should not (talk) in absolutes, but on a very regular occasion, when you are holding for Adam Vinatieri, your entire left side of your body will be filled with sand, and if you are on turf, black rubber from the tires that are in there. That’s just a part of the thing. That only happens from hitting before. It’s a normal, normal thing for kickers to do. Sometimes it even helps out the kicker, because it flattens out their foot a little bit. So, if you combine all of these things, not hitting the ball clean all day, needing a good/perfect operation, seeing straight laces, Rigoberto Sanchez moving the laces into his eyes to distract him a little bit and also pulling it because of the slingshot and the wind probably in that area, it was just a recipe of disaster that they all could have gotten better. And Vinny, whenever he makes a kick it all sits on his shoulders. You don’t hear about the operation. And when he misses a kick, it should all sit on his shoulders I guess. But there’s a lot more that goes into it, just more than Vinatieri kicking. He’s missed a lot of kicks this year. I would argue that some of his kicks have been flat out ugly. That one yesterday, absolutely the case. Very difficult though whenever you hit laces. You have to adjust quickly and do that. His last miss though (against Denver), a guy was standing directly in front of him. A couple other times, there’s been a ball moving while he’s kicking. He’s not had a great year by any means, but yesterday the operation didn’t do him any favors. I assume they’ll bounce back because Luke Rhodes and Rigoberto Sanchez are two of the best at what they do, but every once in a while you are just off on something. When you are off on something that is supposed to happen in 1.25 seconds it all gets magnified, that’s just the way it goes and it’s why our business is a tough one. That’s why you have to move forward. I think Rigo and Rambo (Rhodes) will move forward and I think Vinatieri will as well and be better next time. But this is a game they shouldn’t have lost.”
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) November 4, 2019