Playing the Field: Was female kicker’s tryout a publicity stunt?
NFL Network cut into its 5,784th airing of Barry Sanders: A Football Life to bring us this important news item Sunday night: a female had tried out for an NFL team.
“Awesome,” I thought while having flashbacks to Kathy Ireland’s puberty-inducing role in the 1991 don’t-call-it-a-classic, Necessary Roughness.
Yup, Lauren Silberman, an MIT graduate and former soccer star, did make history over the weekend at the NFL Scouting Combine, becoming the first of her gender to officially take a swing at landing on an NFL roster. But her performance at the event was so bad that it set a second precedent: the worst tryout for someone attempting to make a team in professional sports history.
Roll the tape:
Silberman says she was injured while kicking that day and that’s what resulted in her weak performance. Enter the conspiracy theorists.
Here’s one former college kicker’s take, telling USA Today:
“It is disappointing. I hoped she would go out and do justice for an NFL tryout, because there are lots of people who have dreamed of going to the NFL. It should be something serious.”
“I also find it curious she didn’t warm up.You never go in kicking cold. There’s a reason why the kickers are the first people out there. It takes us a while to warm up.”
“Her performance does not have to do with her gender, it has to do with her experience and her preparation. Unfortunately, what’s going to happen now is she’s going to be looked at (as inferior) because she was female.
“But she was terrible.”
Adding fuel to the fire, several kickers at the event said that Silberman was asking them how to lineup and approach the ball on a kick, as if no homework was done whatsoever.
So was it simply a publicity stunt by Silberman? Only she knows the true answer. My guess is she simply got geeked up after one good boot at some fan fest, signed up for the combine tryout (praying that it’s just that easy and that she didn’t take a legit kicker’s tryout slot), made media appearance after media appearance after media appearance and then just prayed to Pele that her performance wouldn’t be as laughable as it eventually was on the day of the tryout.
That does not make her a criminal. But she does deserve some heat for not preparing sufficiently for something that is taken very serious by hundreds of athletes.
By the way, those brutal quotes above? They’re all from a woman.
Katie Hnida, a former kicker for Colorado and New Mexico and the first woman to score a point in a Div. 1 football, was certainly not impressed by Silberman’s efforts.
Matt Burke is sports editor and a columnist at Metro Boston. Follow him on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS