Kaeding: "I wasn't mentally strong enough"

Nate Kaeding’s Pro Bowl injury has put a wrap on his devastating end to
the season, but we thought we’d revisit his self-described “nightmarish
scenario” again because of an excellent article by Kevin Acee
of the San Diego Union-Tribune Thursday.

Kaeding recounts what the last two weeks have been like for him in grisly
detail, like a detective explaining a crime and its aftermath. 

“It’s impossible for me to not think about,” he said. “There haven’t
been 30 seconds that have gone by since that game that I haven’t
thought about it.”

The most accurate regular season kicker in NFL history didn’t sleep
after his missed kicks, and was back at the Chargers complex at 5 A.M.
the following morning to watch what went wrong. He said he was hurried on his
first kick.

“On the other two, it was my inability to mentally get over that first
miss,” he said. “… On that day, I wasn’t mentally strong enough to come
back and swing through the ball.”

After his latest setback, he’ll have to wait until next regular season
to prove his mettle again.  But Kaeding understands he can’t silence
doubters until he hits a big postseason kick again.

“I understand, looking at it from the outside,” Kaeding said.

50 responses to “Kaeding: "I wasn't mentally strong enough"

  1. Good for him. It’s refreshing to hear guys own their failures. I hope he rebounds and continues to excel.

  2. All it takes is that first seed of doubt to set in…as soon as he missed that first kick he was f@#$ed.
    This why you don’t put yourself in a position to rely on the kicker.

  3. I think this kid will be alright. Admitting to something like that will only help in the future. I wish him luck.

  4. Kaeding: “I wasn’t mentally strong enough” ..
    AND because of it ruined the season for his team-mates AND for Chargers fans AND for those who had bet hundreds of thousands of dollars(or more) on his team ..
    sounds like he’s a day late and a dollar short now.
    BTW- why didn’t he say this several years ago when he blew the playoff game against the Jets that year too?

  5. Kaeding = most accurate regular season kicker in NFL history (under 40 yards)
    Janikowski = better than Kaeding

  6. This brings home some of the stress that players are under to preform and get it right in a matter of seconds or have certain bloggers who have no NFL skills or not one second of NFL experience call them chokers.

  7. Is there something in the NFL kickers water ? It seems they all have fallen from grace this year to one degree or another.

  8. Him admitting it is NOT smart, in my opinion.
    Dude just opened up a can of worms for himself.

  9. TylerDurden says:
    January 28, 2010 11:01 AM
    Kaeding = most accurate regular season kicker in NFL history (under 40 yards)
    Janikowski = better than Kaeding
    ___________________________________
    Janikowski is playing great, but since the raiders have been to the postseason once during his tenure I wouldnt say hes better than kaeding.

  10. I wonder when the rest of the team is going to own up to not being strong enough, mentally and physically to beat the Jets. Everyone wants to focus on the kicker, but they shouldn’t have had to rely on the kicker.

  11. The Chargers should cut him upon reading that… Sorry, as a kicker nobody wants to hear this garbage, make the kick or get out… It’s KICKING! not rocket science.

  12. While watching Kaeding shit his pant during that playoff game, Peyton Manning was celebrating, knowing that he wouldnt have to lose to the Chargers in the playoffs again… And then said something like “thank god for stupid liquored up kickers…”

  13. Nate “Chokeapotamus” Kaeding will continue to choke on big kicks, and he tells you why in this article. He still hasn’t been able to get over those misses weeks later he is done. Especially at his position, you have to be able to move past your mistakes. No matter how big they are. If he thinks about the misses, he will continue to miss. Its simple. He isn’t mentally tough, and those kickers don’t last long in the NFL(see Mike Vandercrap and Nick Folk). Both considered good kickers, but couldn’t handle a few misses.

  14. “But Kaeding understands he can’t silence doubters until he hits a big postseason kick again.”
    Hit one again? When has he ever he hit a big postseason kick?

  15. Vanderjagt was as well the most accurate kicker of his time – during the regular season:)
    Other kickers may miss one or the other chip shot during the regular season, and make all kicks when it matters.
    The other thing: He is paid to nothing but kick the football between the goalposts twice per game … how can he be “hurried” on a kick?
    Did you ever hear Peyton Manning say he was “hurried” on that first down, which came “surprisingly”?

  16. Call it an omen or whatever but you don’t let a guy stick around who has caused you to lose playoff games on multiple occasions. The first time he does it, fair enough. After that it’s time to find someone else. He can be the greatest regular season kicker of all time but when it counts you need someone you can rely on. Better consistency and mental fortitude than stats.
    The other thing is that it’s not going to be any easier in SD for him. The coaches and teammates will have the seed of doubt in their minds about whether he can do it, regardless of what lipservice comes outta their mouths. They’ll alter their game plans around him because they can’t be sure, which defeats the whole point of the kicking weapon and gives the opposition something to exploit. And the team doubt will put him under an even bigger mental block. Rather than just having his own mind to clear he’ll be constantly reminded of the doubts of others. You’re either a zen kicker or you’re an emotional kicker. Kaeding’s the latter. Zen kickers focus on themselves, the task, and nothing. They don’t care about the outcome. Emotional kickers need the feedback and energy of the team and the moment to find their groove. When it turns sour, as it did with Kaeding, you can’t kick. And I would argue that every kicker is both zen and emotional and gets affected by the team energy, even the most stonefaced. My point in this rambling explanation is that Kaeding and SD would be better off getting a replacement if Kaeding can’t earn the team trust again early on.

  17. The Raiders won 3 straight AFC West Championships and 1 AFC Championship WITH Janikowski as their kicker.
    Anyway, Jano missed 3 kicks this year. 2 of those 3 misses were from 57 and 67. The guy was lights out this year. He nailed a 61 yarder on 20 degree day in Cleveland late in year. Amazing.

  18. Janikowski is WAAAAAYYYY better than Kaeding. Not even in the same class really. Kaeding plays with a good offense and gets a zillion chip shot FGs that drive up his overall points numbers — which is all most people voting on the Pro Bowl and All Pro teams look at when it comes to kickers. Janikowski is money from inside 50 and he’s often asked to kick FGs from the parking lot … and he usually makes those too.

  19. “The most accurate regular season kicker in NFL history didn’t sleep after his missed kicks, and was back at the Chargers complex at 5 A.M. the following morning to watch what went wrong. ”
    The most accurate regular season kicker in NFL history!? Really!? How is 32 of 35 in the regular season better than Gary Anderson’s 35 of 35 in the 1998 regular season??? That just doesn’t seem to make any sense to me.
    Of couse, then Anderson also missed the kick that would have sealed a trip to the Super Bowl for the Vikings who eventually lost in overtime to the Falcons. I guess being the two best regular season kickers in history only means certain doom in the playoffs then.

  20. @RIP__21
    Are you saying becasue SD chokes every year in the playoff they have a better kicker? Here i thought the good weed was in Nor Cal but I stand corrected! When you guys win a Superbowl come talk to me!
    Sea Bass is a way better kicker the only reason he missed two of his three field goals this year was they were over 57 yards. SD would not even try those kicks with there “great kicker”
    61 Yards and I’m out!!

  21. Poor Nate Norwood Kaeting. He’s just a misunderstood (Multi-millionare) kicker. I’d trade places with him but then I wouldn’t get to post on PFT when I’m at work!

  22. Von – Alter the game plans around a kicker? I think you should never be allowed to watch a football game again in your life and have your man card revoked. Fool. idiot. Tool. But mostly, just dumb. Ughh.. Chargers shouldn’t have had to rely on the kicker, simple as that. Defense coulda made a stop, or offense could have gotten 7 instead of TRYING for 3. BUT THEY WEREN’T GOOD ENOUGH AND DESERVED TO LOSE. GET OVER IT!!!

  23. lol at Raiders fans talking trash. You have a good kicker and punter. That’s it! Have fun finishing 5-11 for the 9th straight year. You guys are so good!

  24. As a lifelong Chiefs fan, I still vividly recall another K who missed 3 FG’s in a post season game: Christmas Day 1971, Jan Stenerud vs Miami.
    As with Kaeding, 1 was rushed (was supposed to be a fake FG but it all went wrong), 1 was blocked & a 3rd was ‘choked’ wide right near the end regulation time, which would’ve won the game for the Chiefs.
    Come double overtime the better team -KC- ended up losing (MIA CB Tim Foley was quoted “well you know, the better team didn’t win the game.”)
    Stenerud still ended in the NFL Hall of Fame…the only pure kicker ever enshrined to date.
    Kaeding will be fine, HOF enshrinee someday or not.

  25. KAEDING is the modern day MIKE VANDERJAGT. If he played for Buffalo he’d get his lawn spray-painted and a movie like Buffalo ’66 devoted to him. You people in San Diego should hunt him down…

  26. Was there ever a more glorious choke job of a kick than what Vandercrap tried against the Steelers?
    That drunk must have missed by 20 yards.

  27. There must be early morning hours and free Wi-Fi at all the hippie lettuce stands in the City of Oakland – Raider fans are “waking and baking” today.

  28. BadRobot,
    “The most accurate regular season kicker in NFL history!? Really!? How is 32 of 35 in the regular season better than Gary Anderson’s 35 of 35 in the 1998 regular season??? That just doesn’t seem to make any sense to me. ”
    To clarify:
    Kaeding is…currently…the most accurate regular season kicker in NFL history – careerwise – meaning he has the best percentange when combining all his kicks across all his seasons, after whatever is the official minimum number of attempts.
    It doesn’t do him a whole lot of good right now, though.

  29. He ought to follow the Vanderjagt model and go on Canadian television and bash his QB Phillip Rivers. That seemed to work great for Vandy. (Yes, that is sarcasm!)

  30. Nick – you’ve got a lot of kicks ahead of you dude….think about it this way..the worst happened, now it’s all up hill. Don’t drive yourself crazy, good kickers miss kicks too. I’d take you on the Redskins anyday. Eff the negative Nellie’s. Hail!!

  31. For some reason, Norv Turner’s teams are cursed! What can go wrong will go wrong at the most crucial moments…

  32. Nate Kaeding “”On the other two, it was my inability to mentally get over that first miss,” he said. “… On that day, I wasn’t mentally strong enough to come back and swing through the ball.”
    Brett Favre “Uhhh…I was just trying to get ahead. Uhhhh……I was just trying to make a play. I didn’t know the down and distance or how far we had to get. Excuse me while I get back on my tractor. Next question.”

  33. maybe if the chargers would stop show boating, over reacting, crying and being bad sports the football gods would let them proceed to a superbowl.

  34. Kudos to Kaeding for admitting he wasn’t right mentally that day. The same can’t be said for some of his teammates who simply refuse to take any blame for the stupid penalties and other costly mistakes (pointing to you, Shaun Phillips).

  35. It all has to do with focus. The problem is mental, not physical. It will happen again and again. I’m not saying that he is “mental”, just that he has trouble “coping”. It’s different for everyone. Like the old saying goes, pressure is a funny thing – people either focus or fold when under pressure. There is not a middle ground. He folded unfortunately for him. This can be learned and that would be my suggestion. One of the smartest things the Saints did was keeping Carney around to teach their young kicker. It paid off.

  36. Keep Nate away from sharp objects. For that matter, Adrian Peterson too, although he would probably fumble a sharp object anyway…

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