The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson for September 2, 2019
The (other) football edition! In light of the Carli Lloyd brouhaha: Let's take a look at some of the women who have actually played for a men's football team, or tried to.
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The Carli Lloyd forerunners
The chances of Carli Lloyd ever becoming a kicker for an NFL team are nil. Zip. Nada. Just not gonna happen.
Felt like it had to be said.
Yes, it’s fun to chat about. It’s fun to ponder the possibilities. And yes, Lloyd is an amazing athlete and a great kicker. It would be great for a woman to break through that ceiling. But there are just too many obstacles she’d face that go into kicking at that level. I covered the Raiders for over 10 years and I saw the rise of kicker Sebastian Janikowski, so I know a bit about this.
Still, I think it would be fun to look at some of the women who have actually tried to play for, or have played for, a men’s football team.
The most recent woman that comes to mind is Lauren Silberman, who kicked at an NFL-sanctioned scouting combine at the New York Jets’ practice facility in 2013. It has been described as a publicity stunt. One thing is certain: Silberman was simply not very good. She attempted two kickoffs for less than 30 yards before aggravating a quad injury.
A more credible example is Katie Hnida, a kicker who became the first woman to score in an NCAA Division I-A game when she kicked a pair of extra points in a New Mexico victory over Texas State.
Hnida is an interesting story: She first played at Colorado as a walk on, and eventually became just the second woman to suit up for a game at college football’s highest level. After transferring to New Mexico, she appeared in the 2002 Las Vegas Bowl, but her extra-point attempt was blocked. Her first points came a year later.
Hnida later said she was sexually assaulted at Colorado, and became an advocate for survivors. She also kicked in the pro Continental Indoor Football League.
Liz Heaston was the first woman to play and score for a men’s college team, when she played for NAIA-level Willamette University (Yay Oregon!) in 1997. She played in two games. Her jersey is displayed at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
Patricia Palinkas played for the semipro Orlando Panthers of the Atlantic Coast Football League in 1970, and she’s widely considered to be the first woman to play for a pro team. She was a holder for her husband, kicker Stephen Palinkas. The Panthers hoped that her inclusion on the team would be a box office draw. After her husband was injured, her career petered out.
Look, I’m rooting for Lloyd, I really am. I’m just a realist.
I’ve included a bit of her comments on the whole thing from Philly below. In the meantime, on to the links!
This Week in Women’s Soccer
Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me! email@example.com.
Katelyn Best does a good job explaining the Iron Front controversy for The Equalizer.
Also in The Equalizer: Important story from Jeff Kassouf about concussion protocol in the NWSL.
Kassouf looks at what the USWNT players can contribute to the search for the new coach.
So why isn’t women’s pro soccer in the Philly market?
Jerry Brewer considers Lloyd in the NFL for The Washington Post.
Caitlin Murray for Yahoo Sports on the new faces we may see at the Olympics.
Katie Whyatt talks to Jordan Nobbs about her World Cup injury heartbreak for the Telegraph.
The Guardian’s Suzanne Wrack on the WSL’s Manchester derby.
Meg Linehan for The Athletic on the USWNT players hoping to impress a new coach who hasn’t yet been named.
One last thing: Congrats to Kieran Theivam for joining The Athletic. if you don’t already subscribe for Linehan’s stellar work, here’s another reason.
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Tweet of the Week
This is funny. Maybe Neville’s agent planted this for a contract extension? But here’s my hot take: I know Neville’s been getting a lot of criticism today, but I really think he deserves credit. Why? Because when he took the job I honestly thought it was a publicity stunt. I never thought he’d take it seriously. I figured England, with a wealth of talent, would crash and burn. The team didn’t. Yes, the World Cup ending against surprising Sweden was a disappointment. But I still see tremendous upside to the team and its future.
Five at The IX: Carli Lloyd, NFL prospect and soccer player
Carli Lloyd addressed the whole football thing for the media in Philadelphia. Here’s what she had to say:
”Well at first it was obviously just a casual day heading to Eagles training. I actually know the Ravens kicking coach, Randy Brown, so he’s been trying to get me to come out and kick with Justin Tucker for the last two or three years. Scheduling wise it just didn’t work out. When this opportunity came I had a day off and it was kind of like everything kind of collided and it was perfect. I brought my boots after training, didn’t warm up, started at 25 yards and me being as competitive as I am I just wanted to keep moving back. Hit a 55 yarder on the first try, down the pipes, nine feet wide posts.
“Next thing I know I get in my car and things are just blowing up. It’s gone completely viral. It’s gone from just having fun kicking to, ‘Will she play in the NFL?’ At first I was just laughing about it but the more that I spoke with my husband, he’s all for it and my friends and family, they’re really encouraging me to potentially take up this opportunity.
“First and foremost, I want to go out there and take a try to take a two-step kick to make sure that I can actually do that. if I can actually do that from a good distance, then I would feel a lot more comfortable. Obviously pads, helmets, I’d probably need a couple 300-pound men to rush at me. There’s got to be a first for everything, right? I’ve got an opportunity and I know that mentally. You need to have thick skin. You’ve got to be mentally tough, mentally strong. I invite pressure. I love pressure. I’ve got all that kind of ticked off and now it’s just a matter of knowing if I can do it and go from there. First and foremost I want to do well tomorrow night. I want the team to do well and then I’ll kind of refocus and figure it all out.”
(A two-step kick?)
”I can bomb a pretty significant long ball and it’s got nothing to do with leg strength. Everyone thinks, ‘Ah, you need a big, strong leg to kick a ball.’ No, it’s all technique and I’ve spent the last 15, 16-plus years with my coach and mentor James breaking down every aspect of my mechanics — long balls, benders, outside of the foot. I’ve got the whole breakdown and the mechanics of the technique and it’s actually pretty similar. Randy Brown, the Ravens kicking coach, actually sent me a screenshot of Justin Tucker’s form and my form and it’s pretty spot on and pretty similar. The only thing is the ball is shaped a little bit differently but it’s the same part of your foot.’
(On getting hit)
“You can’t really touch a kicker, but it happens. I’m not naive to that. But there is that part of it, no doubt. And there’s challenges as far as being with all males and the locker room and there’s a whole range of things, and I get that. But I’m not afraid to step up in front of the whole world and actually do it. I’ve always been like that from a little girl. I’ve never cared about going up against boys or what not. But 300 pounds coming at me, I’d probably try to give my best shot but I don’t know, I might be in the hospital after that. So we’ll see. But first I’ve got to get out on the field and actually attempt to do it and we’ll go from there.”
And finally, here are Jill Ellis’ comments on the Lloyd-to-the-NFL thing:
“Did you hear the next one that I’m going to be her agent? Oh I think 100 percent she can do it. No doubt in my mind. I think she could do it technically and do it mentally. Obviously stepping on that field with such big guys, but I think she’s got the steel internally and I think she’s got the range in her leg. When I first came on the scene, I saw Carli Lloyd strike a ball and I said, holy crap that’s the hardest I’ve ever seen a woman hit a ball. She certainly has the velocity, and I think it’s very cool. I think it would be great.”