Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Sauerbrun's return a gift to media everywhere
By Pat Yasinskas
Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas
It is a wonderful day here in the NFC South because Todd Sauerbrun is back in football.
We say that not only because the man who likes to call himself “The Boom’’ just might be the most talented punter to ever walk the face of the earth (with apologies to Ray Guy, who we’ll get to in a second). No, the real beauty here is that Sauerbrun, who squandered perhaps more second chances than any player in NFL history, is back in the public eye.
We say this because it’s a victory for media everywhere, particularly those who will be covering the new United Football League. For all his faults (and there were tons), Sauerbrun might have been the most entertaining player I’ve ever covered and he wasn’t even trying to be that way.
“The Boom’’ had another nickname among his teammates when he was with the Carolina Panthers and it fit perfectly. The Panthers used to call him “Stifler," after the character in the “American Pie’’ movies. Much like the fictional “Stifler," the real-life Sauerbrun had a unique gift. He said exactly what popped into his mind, no matter how politically incorrect or damaging to himself or others. In short, Sauerbrun had absolutely no filter.
That became apparent one day soon after Sauerbrun had filled in for injured kicker John Kasay and made a game-winning field goal. Sauerbrun had a chance to be a hero in Carolina and he booted it as far as possible.
Asked if he’d like to continue kicking field goals if Kasay had to miss a game or two, Sauerbrun began an interview that became a train wreck without an ending. Sauerbrun said he wouldn’t mind kicking as long as the Panthers gave him more money and also stating he would expect the Panthers give him back some of the money they’d been fining him.
The media, which at the time had no idea about the fines, asked what they were for. Sauerbrun quickly explained the Panthers had been fining him for being a pound or two overweight and sharing his theory that it was ridiculous to ask a punter to watch his weight. When asked why he just didn’t hit the treadmill if it was only a pound or two, Sauerbrun kept railing.
“I try, but I like to eat,’’ he said.
From there, he only continued to dig a deeper hole as members of Carolina's public relations staff seemed to age 10 years before our eyes. He shredded the Gramatica family – as he often did -- and the conversation turned to Guy, who many consider the best punter ever.
“Ray Guy [stinks -- and we’re cleaning it up with that word],’’ Sauerbrun said.
He then went on to say Guy spent his career kicking “rugby balls’’ and bashed the NFL for its use of kicking balls. I think it pretty much ended with that, but it didn’t really end.
After the quotes hit the paper the next day, I remember a perplexed-looking John Fox grabbing me as we walked off the practice field one day and asking something like this in a tone of disbelief, “Listen, I'm not questioning your story or anything, but did my guy really say “Ray Guy (stinks)?’’
Yes, he did.