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Justin Tucker not on 100 Best NFL Player's List


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It was July, 2012.  I took my 11 year-old nephew Ryan to the Ravens Summer Camp, which was then held at McDaniel College in North-Central Maryland and free and wide-open to fans.  Ryan, an 11-12 years-old soccer team MVP and later his high school football team's placekicker, wowed the crowd in the Kids Zone with his football place kicking.

So, after checking out Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Joe Flacco, John Harbaugh, etc. - you could stand within 10 feet of them right on the sidelines back in those days - we went over to the field where the Ravens kickers were working out.  We wanted to see Ravens' kicker Billy Cundiff, who had scored 122 points the previous season even if he did miss a short FG to lose the AFC Championship Game to the Patriots - after what was clearly a Ravens winning TD was ruled an incomplete pass. Cundiff was telling the press, "They've told me it's my job to lose."

But what was this?  There was an undrafted rookie kicker from the University of Texas, also an opera singer, competing with Cundiff.  His name was Justin Tucker.

Tucker smiled at Ryan and me as he set up kicking tees with footballs right in front of us along the sidelines at the 50, 40, 30, 20, and 10 yardline.  He then ran up and kicked all 5 footballs right through the middle of goal post.  By the end of the workout, I told Ryan, "There's the Ravens new kicker."

During the preseason, I fantasy-drafted Tucker onto all my teams: no one else was interested in him, because the "experts" assuming he'd be cut.  That season, Tucker went 30 for 33 in Field Goals with three game-winning FG's and a team record 4 over 50 yards.  He missed no extra points until his 7th year in the NFL and that was due to a strong, gusting wind.

A few years later, in practice, he tried an unheard-of 85 yard FG and hit the crossbars at Mile High Stadium in Denver.  He is now widely regarded as the greatest kicker in NFL history, with the highest lifetime FG percentage.

So, here's a typical example of the sports talk about Tucker being snubbed on this year's list of Best 100 Players:

"Who does Justin Tucker have to kick to get a vote around here?" wrote NFL.com's Jeremy Bergman, who identified Tucker not making the list as one of five things voters got wrong. "The greatest kicker of his generation gets no respect from his peers, year in and year out, in this exercise. … Coming off his second straight first-team All-Pro season, and third in four years, Tucker should at least warrant some consideration from the board."

Thanks to the Ravens leading the league in touchdowns in 2019, Tucker made the fewest field goals of his eight-year career in 2019, but his 96.6 field-goal percentage (28-for-29) was his second-highest.

"Sure, it wasn't his showiest year, I'll give you that," Bergman wrote. "But it's hard to blame him for making his lone 50-plus-yard attempt when his team is scoring touchdowns all damn day."

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