By Matt Burnham
Disclaimer: This interview was conducted before Baltimore’s Week 9 loss against Tallahassee.
Matt: First off, congrats on your award! Last week you were called upon to deliver 6 field goals in a single game and you delivered on every single one. What was going through your mind as the 6th and final kick went up and through?
Shark: [laughs] Honestly…. my first thought was, “I think this is gonna tie my record for in-game makes!”. To be fair, the game seemed pretty squared away at that point. I think the last time I made this many kicks was in a tight defensive struggle last year, and that time I was just thinking “Please, Lord, don’t miss this kick”. So it was nice to be able to relax this time and just let it rip. Shout out to the O and D for putting me in that spot. Also, it’s great to be on a team that values kicking, and I always like the opportunity to show teams that don’t know what they’re missing out on.
Matt: So for you who feels like you’re on a team that values kicking, how to you think the rest of the league sees kickers in general?
Shark: Well, you know, kickers are like the punchlines in the league. And sure, maybe I can’t bench press 300lbs like T-Roy, but when a kicker comes out and drops 20+ points on you, it gives you pause. So yeah, I’d say generally we’re still undervalued in this league (there are only seven kickers I think), but I don’t care as long as my management and teammates show me love — and they certainly do. And besides, I kind of like being the underdog!
Matt: I would certainly say that kickers are undervalued, especially after you’ve had a 19/20 season so far. In that sense, do you feel like yourself and other kickers have to work harder to prove yourselves to your team and your fans? How do you build trust with your coach to the point where, in some cases, he might willing to risk it all on your leg?
Shark: I do feel a little bit of pressure in that way, yeah. In a position that already isn’t utilized very often, if I come out and miss chip shots or game-winners, you kind of feel like you might not be around long… So I just do everything I can control: get progressions in early; be a positive, interactive, and supportive teammate; get my bits in ASAP. Then I say Three Hail Marys and put on my lucky underwear. But basically, keep showing up and putting in the time, and a good coach will start to trust in you.
Matt: I love the attitude, really shows what this league is all about. With Baltimore 5-3 right now, you guys have a real shot at making the playoffs. Field goals will probably be even more necessary when taking on some the of the best defenses in the league this postseason. With everything seeming to gel pretty well in the regular season, how do you feel about the postseason and the possibility of more pressure on you than before?
Shark: I love the postseason; I live for it! And as a kicker, you have to love high-pressure scenarios or you’re never going to survive in this league. So bring it on! But we Vultures do try to stay focused on the next game only. We’ve got a really really tough road ahead of us facing lots of great teams to even make it into the playoffs. So I won’t get too excited yet. But anywhere along that path, if we’re down two points with 5 seconds left in the last quarter, you’d best believe I’m going to be pumped to bring home that W. “Just get to the 50, coach!”. I yell it all the time.
Matt: Love it, that gung-ho mentality is refreshing. Last question: Do you have any last words or final thoughts on your team, the league, the season so far, or anything at all?
Shark: I love this league, big thanks to the staff (including you, Matt) for their work in making it function. And if anyone ever comes through Stockholm, hit me up!