Every Sunday in the fall, people flock to stadiums and television sets in record numbers. They go to cheer on their teams and watch the fastest, strongest, toughest, most powerful football players do battle on the gridiron in a violent test of wit, skill and attrition. These gladiators — who play American football — endure immense physical pain as they attempt to overpower other large, powerful gladiatorial men.
Yes, it’s no wonder football is America’s most popular game. And while the games are often won by the biggest, fastest, toughest, most powerful and most athletic teams, let’s acknowledge a reality we probably would rather ignore: a good kicker helps too.
Last season, the Washington Redskins enjoyed this luxury for the first time since, well, a really long time. Kai Forbath, the UCLA product, replaced Billy Cundiff as the Redskins’ placekicker on Oct. 9, 2012 and immediately began paying dividends. He made a 50-yard field goal in his NFL debut, the team’s 38-26 win versus the Minnesota Vikings. He also made 48- and 49-yard field goals in the team’s overtime victory against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens.
Forbath even managed to set an NFL record, making his first 17 field goal attempts.
And while I’m not going to sit here and tell you Forbath is as important to the Redskins as Robert Griffin III, Ryan Kerrigan or London Fletcher, I will say this: the Redskins probably don’t win the NFC East last season without Forbath.
See, for years and years, the Redskins could never be assured of getting points out of good drives. If the team didn’t score a touchdown or didn’t get well within the opposing team’s territory — and sometimes even when they did — points were never assured. Forbath gave his team that assurance last season. The Redskins knew that good drives were going to produce some points, even if they fell short of touchdowns.
In other words, while we romanticize the large, powerful, physical men — as we should — Forbath has provided assurance their work will not go in vain.
And for that, Redskins fans should be thankful.