When teams and fans start campaigning for any particular player to win an award or earn a certain honor it can often times be seen as distasteful. In the case of the St. Louis Rams and their fans pushing for punter Johnny Hekker to make the Pro Bowl, however, the lobbying is far less egregious.
That particular push gets even cooler when the players on the team are so steadfast behind guys often considered outcasts on a roster. This certainly applies to Hekker who arrived to last Friday with players on the team all wearing these.
Stroll into work today and find one of these in every locker….so embarrassed but I love the support. pic.twitter.com/G1mpt77FWC
— Johnny Hekker (@JHekker) December 13, 2013
But the support for a punter should be expected when he is 6-foot-5 236-pounds, leads the NFL in net punting average, and actually acts like a football player rather than a different species on the team. Heck, rookie wide receiver Stedman Bailey, who gets the bulk of his work on special teams this season, offered some serious praise of the second-year punter saying:
“Johnny, I would have to say is one of my favorites on this team. Punters usually want absolutely nothing to do with the returner and then we have Johnny, who wants everything to do with it.”
That’s certainly an endearing quality to guys who are running full speed down the field to make plays and laying their lives on the line each and every punt. It’s not like Hekker seeks out contact on every kick, but he isn’t afraid to mix it up just like the rest of the guys on the roster even though he realizes his body will regret it the next day. Hekker said:
“It’s funny just because being a punter you wake up and realize ‘Man, I was in on one hit and my body’s real sore.’ I can’t imagine the guys who are in on every single play. I have a ton of respect for those guys.”
It’s no wonder the Rams are so fond of this kid with his appreciation for the guys around him and his unique sense of humor. Speaking of that, he and fellow second-year special teams star kicker Greg Zuerlein took part in an awesome exhibition with the guys from Dude Perfect back during the summer. Click here and see just how epic that display was.
With his NFL leading 43.9 yards net punting average, Hekker certainly deserves some consideration to be the NFC’s representative in Hawaii this year. He doesn’t boom kicks on the regular with the ninth longest average in the league, but his 2.9 yards per average return shows there is more to successful punting than just rearing back and kicking it a long way. Hopefully Hekker gets recognized for his great display as a punter this year and his general nature as a true football player shines through in the process.