Before the 2013 NFL season even began, the Detroit Lions lost one of their best players. Twenty one year veteran kicker Jason Hanson hung up his cleats after an impressive career. The Lions signed b, another veteran kicker, to a contract for the 2013 season. On Thursday, the Lions made headlines with their signing of “Kickalicious”.
If you’re not familiar with Kickalicious, then you haven’t seen his Youtube video yet. Havard Rugland is a former professional soccer player who is attempting to become a kicker in the NFL. A video on Youtube shows Rugland kicking field goals of 50-60 yards with ease. The video also showcases Rugland’s trick shots and accuracy with kicks to a man in a boat, a man on a mountain, kicks through a basketball hoop, and a kick at a football in mid-air.
The signing will give the Lions two kickers entering training camp with Akers and Rugland. The Lions had a workout with Rugland weeks ago and saw firsthand what he was capable of. Rugland has never played football so it is hard to predict what he is capable of. However, if you watch the video you can see the power he possesses. Michael Husted, a former NFL kicker who trains Rugland, brags of his power and compares him to Sebastian Janikowski.
Akers has the experience but, as I mentioned in a different article, struggled last year with the San Francisco 49ers. The signing of Rugland could give the Lions a different direction with youth. Rugland, at 28 years of age, could give the Lions several years of kicking, versus Akers who is at the back end of his football career. Rugland also provides a marketing lift for the Lions team. The Lions will see a strong fan base begin in Norway and reports already have jerseys selling strong in the country.
Time will tell if Rugland can make it in the NFL or if he can crack the Lions opening roster. Perhaps Rugland will see his story end the same way another kicker from Norway did. Jan Stenerud, who Rugland grew up idolizing, is the only kicker in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Chris Katje is the featured Detroit Lions writer for Rant Sports. Follow Chris on Twitter.