The unsolicited letters arrive daily. Almost every one carries encouragement and, usually, advice.
"Keep your head down and follow through," some letter writers tell kicker Mark Moseley. "i know you'll start kicking them again," others say. "the Redskins will win by a field goal Sunday," one advised him yesterday.
"They've all been encouraging," Moseley said with some surprise. "I thought I'd get some wise-cracks, but not so. They've been really, really nice."
Moseley hasn't sought advice to solve his mysterious kicking slump, which has seen him make only two of nine field goal attempts this season. But it's come anyway, and he says now, "The letters are acting as an inspiration for me.
It's nice to know so many people are rooting for you."
Only last year, Moseley was a Pro Bowl participant after enjoying the best statistics of his already impressive career. This year, he had anticipated an even more consistent output, which he hoped would help carve a niche for himself among the game's best-ever kickers.
Instead, he now finds himself going over the basic fundamentals of kicking that he felt had become second nature laong ago. And he finds himself fighting a constant sick feeling in his stomach.
"i was really sick to my stomach on Monday," he said. "i felt awful. Until then, this really hadn't bothered me. I thought I'd come out of it without much trouble.
"but then when I missed those (three) field goals against Seattle, it really got to me. Monday was just awful. Now I'm feeling better about it. Things are getting positive again. I want Sunday to come so badly now, I can't wait. I want a chance to kick 14 field goals and 10 extra points.
Things are going to work out. I know they are. I feel strong and I'm kicking well in practice."
The Redskins need consistent, dependable Moseley. While their offense sputters and injuries ruin continuity, they could receive a big boost from him, the same kind of boost he has given them in past years. Of all people, he is especially aware of the special status he fills on this club.
It's funny," he said, "ive noticed how they are treating me differently. Everyone is encouraging me more than they usually do. They are going out of their way to be nice.
"no one really says anything to me. But I've noticed we are kicking more field goals now than we used to. It used to be just Thursday and Friday, but now we are doing it everyday." Even Diron Talbert, who usually tries to block the practice attempts by tossing a football into the air, has stopped such shenanigans -- at least temporarily.
This isn't a case of Coach Jack Pardee and his assistants calling Moseley into an office and telling him,"this is how you have to start kicking the ball." Quite the contrary. Because Moseley has been so good so long -- and has been so conscientious about his work habits -- he is being left alone for the most part to work his way out of the slump.
"i don't like to talk to Mark about it," John Hilton, special teams coach, said. "ive seen enough kickers and. . . Mark knows what he is doing He's student of his job. He can work this out himself."
But Hilton does think he has noticed one flaw in Moseley's style. "mark doesn't seem to be staying over the ball and keeping his shoulders straight," Hilton said. "i mentioned that to him yesterday. I hesitated about doing it, but I figured I should.
"his problem has been that his kicks are sliding off to the left or the right. He isn't getting full strength behind them. That comes from leaning back when you kick the ball. You can't hit the ball square that way.
You've got to keep your center of gravity over the ball and not lean away from it. How did he get into the bad habit? Maybe when he got a few blocked. It can do it to you. You begin leaning away.
"but Mark has everything going the right way now. He's been booting them in practice great this week, really strong. He's on the right track."
Likewise, Pardee has said little to Moseley, "he can work it out on his own," the coach said. "he's strong enough mentally. We don't want him to begin psychoanalyzing himself too much. We just want him to kick.
"maybe Mark has been trying to aim the ball a little too much. Except for a few short kicks, he's been hitting a lot of them into the wind. So he's been hitting a lot of them into the wind. So he's been trying to adjust for it, instead of saying the heck with it and just bang it as hard as he can down the middle."
Moseley has absorded all these words of help. And he's also spent many extra hours this week looking at a familiar figure: Mark Moseley kicking.
"i've taken practice films of me kicking and old game films and films and of me kicking against Seattle and training reels," Moseley said. "I've really gone over them with a fine-tooth comb and I can't find a thing wrong.
I'm hitting the ball good in practice; that's the most discouraging thing. I don't miss very many and then in the games, things aren't going the way they should. But they will."
But Moseley is considering making some changes. He's been using his old, faithful shoe, the one that the Cowboys say has lead in its toe. But it's waterlogged and very heavy to swing,which bothers the tendinitis in his hip. And it's lost its shape. He might switch to a new, lighter shoe that he tried in practice yesterday.
I am thinking about using it," Moseley said. "i signed this contract with a shoe company (Nike) and they were late in sending me a kicking shoe. I just got it. Maybe I'll use it."
Then Moseley picked up another fan letter. "hope your hopes perk up on Sunday," it read. Moseley smiled.
"this is like the one I got from a high school kicker in Maryland. His nickname is Moseley. Now the kids are kidding him, but he told me that he wasn't going to change his name. But if I don't start making some, I bet he'll change his mind fast."