This is a great time of year to be thankful for what we have, where we have been, and what the future holds. Although the Chargers have lost their way a bit in recent years, the month of December still holds such incredible promise! This advent calendar is an attempt to hearken back to these days of December joy. Each day will bring a new advent from the Bolts’ history that makes it wonderful to be a Chargers fan.
Dec. 04: The Last Successful Free Kick in the NFL
Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of or seen a free kick in the NFL before. They’re about as rare as the national media remembering that the Chargers moved to Los Angeles two years ago and no longer play in San Diego. Low and behold though, our story will come to an end in the Bay area.
For those of you who don’t know what a free kick is when after a fair catch, an NFL team has the right to take a free kick from the line of scrimmage on the next play. If the kick goes through the uprights, the kicking team scores 3 points.
Slow down though, it’s not as easy as it seems. Granted, kicking a 95 yard field goal is nearly impossible, the rules for making a free kick after a poor punt could come with a cost. Here are the rules.
- There is no snap.
- The defense must stand at least 10 yards from the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked.
- The kicking team may not use a tee. The ball must be placed or drop-kicked.
- Even if time expired on the preceding play, the fair-catching team may still attempt the kick.
Now, this would seem like it’s easier in College Football mainly due to poor execution from a young player. Not really. In fact, since 1949, the NCAA tried to eliminate all fair catches. That wasn’t going to last due to player’s safety. Following the 1950 season, college football restored the fair catch, but explicitly removed the fair catch kick rule.
Basically, it you want to see this done, go to your local high school and pray for a miracle or hope a NFL team tries to bring it back.
Since 1925, the free kick has been implemented into the league for players to try. The big kicker however is how limited it truly is.
In nearly 85 years of the professional sport’s existence, the free kick has only been attempted 26 times during the regular season. 28 if you included playoffs but knowing the Chargers, not so much.
But never fear Chargers fans, the kick has not been successfully preformed since 1976. The culprit? You guessed it, the San Diego Chargers.
Lining up for a 45-yard field goal, Chargers kicker Ray Wersching would nail the kick and head into the locker room for halftime. This would put the Chargers up 27-10 and eventually seal the the win.
In the history of free kicks, the kick has only gone through the uprights five times. The Chargers are the final team to do so.
So while spirits are high heading into a 9-3 record for the month of December, some Charger fans like to think the world is over since their team isn’t the best in the league. While that’s true, the other Los Angeles team is, the Chargers are in the record books for something Greg Zuerlein will probably never have a chance to try.
In the end, the Chargers still are making history.