Sunday, August 10, 2014
Blue Angels get Bailey's heart racing
By Todd Archer
OXNARD, Calif. -- On the face of it there seems to be little in common between an NFL kicker and a Blue Angels pilot.
But after flying with the Blue Angels in April, Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey feels a little differently.
"For them, they do a lot of the visualization," Bailey said. "That's kind of the work I like to do. It's not like they hop in the plane and go fly. They have the briefing and go over fine-tuning everything and just the minute details that they do on how many degree angle they're pulling at and the communication that goes on all the time carried over for me. For me it's like going back to, what do you work on? Well, you can always work on something even if it's a tiny little deal. That's how they are. It's interesting to see how they look at that and how they approach that."
Bailey's flight lasted 45 minutes and they maxed out at close to 7.3 Gs. He said they went supersonic at one point.
"It was crazy," Bailey said. "I thought it would be more eventful when you actually pass through that speed of sound or the barrier, so to speak."
Bailey admits his heart rate was a bit raised when he was in the jet. On the field, however, his rate doesn't seem to fluctuate.
"I'm sure there is some sort of elevated awareness there, but you just kind of get in a zone, so to speak," Bailey said, "and I try to stay as calm as I can and not think about it."
In his first three years, Bailey has made eight game-winning kicks. He has made 88 of 98 field goal attempts and missed just four times in the last two seasons. Last season he connected on 6-of-7 attempts from 50 yards or more.
The Cowboys rewarded him with a seven-year, $22.5 million extension that included $7.5 million in guaranteed money.
So far in training camp Bailey has missed only two attempts. He tries to put himself in uncomfortable spots in what might be a mundane kicking drill to be ready for pressure situations. He likes the breezy conditions he finds at Oxnard, especially since he is guaranteed eight games mostly indoors at AT&T Stadium. Coach Jason Garrett puts the team through multiple situations that require Bailey to kick what would be last-second game-winning or game-tying field goals.
It might not be as uncomfortable as his ride with the Blue Angels, but it works.
"Kind of create competition with yourself whether it's creating scenarios in your head maybe like, 'OK, this is end of game situation,' even though it might be the third kick of a seven kick set," Bailey said. "Kind of put that pressure on yourself and hold yourself accountable to that standard. If you miss it, it's like, 'Well, that was an important kick.' It's not like I'm just out here banging balls and getting reps. Anything from that to fine-tuning stuff on film, putting the pressure on yourself to go in and really look at what you're doing wrong, what you're doing good and kind of formulate an answer as to where you can go forward from there."