A Pair of Punters Vie To Be the Guy
One of the basic credos in sports journalism is: When covering the NFL, never write about the punters. Except punter's wives, mothers, agents and kids mentored by Ray Guy, pretty much no one cares.
So you can imagine the elation when I phoned The Post sports department yesterday, begging to chronicle the throw-down in Ashburn over who gets to boot the ball on fourth and long for the Washington Redskins this season.
Editor: "Uh, what about Billy McMullen , the Virginia kid? He could be the last receiver if Jim Zorn keeps 12."
Editor: "No? Stuart Schweigert? You know, the safety that came over from the Raiders?"
Even Derrick Frost wishes you would pick another topic.
"Usually when you get interviewed as a punter, it's either, 'I guess things aren't going well, they drafted a punter,' or, 'The team just played terrible and there was no one else to interview but you because you punted 12 times,' " said Frost, Washington's punter the past three seasons. "Neither one of those are good scenarios."
The former happened to Frost this offseason. The Redskins used a sixth-round pick on Durant Brooks, a square-jawed kid from Georgia Tech who punted a football 77 yards in a game last year and averaged 45.3 yards per kick, an ACC record. They enter the preseason in a dead heat.
The difference between other training-camp battles and theirs -- and why you really need to keep reading about punters -- is that either Frost or Brooks will be out of a job by the end of August. They're not trying to be a third receiver like Malcolm Kelly or Devin Thomas, or hoping to be a third cornerback like Leigh Torrence or Justin Tryon, in case Carlos Rogers isn't healthy enough to start the year. Their playing time might be reduced, but those players all get paid.
Loser of the punt battle goes home and waits for a call that might not come.
It doesn't happen very often that a punter is cut the last preseason game and he ends being picked up Week 1 for another team.