Everyone keeps asking Ted Koppel what he's going to do next and how he feels about leaving "Nightline," the program he's anchored since its inception as a late-night news update in 1979.
But no one, said Koppel, whose final broadcast is Tuesday, has asked "about my deep, burning desire, my ambition to be a point kicker for the Redskins."
Koppel's football fantasy is not totally tongue-in-cheek: As a soccer player at Syracuse University, Koppel approached then-football coach Ben Schwartzwalder and offered to kick extra points for the team.
"I still had an English accent, and I was not the imposing figure I am today," said the 5-foot-9 Koppel. "He took one look at me and said, 'We don't have an extra position.'"
Koppel's idea -- a soccer-style placekicker, who boots the ball with the side of the foot, rather than the toe -- transformed football a few years later, but Koppel wasn't doing the kicking.
"I was the first to think of it. I was ahead of the Gogolaks," he said, referring to Pete Gogolak, pro football's first soccer-style kicker, and the others who quickly adopted his method. "It would have been a big deal."
The big deal instead has been "Nightline," the broadcast that transformed a segment of late night TV into a venue for serious reporting,, breaking news and interviews with headliners ranging from Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu to Tammy Faye Bakker and Kermit the Frog. The show began as "The Iranian Crisis: America Held Hostage," ABC's nightly coverage of the Americans who were seized at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
"It was a unique story in that everybody in the country was riveted by what was happening to those 52 hostages and people couldn't get enough of it," said Koppel, who was the network's chief diplomatic correspondent at the time.
Koppel, 65, who lives in Potomac, plans to "get reacquainted with my large family," which includes four children and three grandchildren.
"And, when the weather permits, hop back on my motorcycle," he said.
He's proud of his signature broadcast and pleased by his career path, even if it didn't include a kicking tee. "I never thought I would be rich or famous," he said. "I really got into it because I can't imagine another job that would satisfy me the way journalism has."
-- Kathy Blumenstock