Mark Moseley, the Washington Redskins' kicker for more than 12 seasons, was waived by the team last season. He recently told his story to Washington Post Staff Writer Leonard Shapiro.
It's kind of ironic that Jess Atkinson is the kicker for the Redskins right now. When you think about it, I'm the guy who beat him out last summer and I believe I could have beaten him out again. Now he's kicking, and I'm retired.
I still have the goal posts set up in the back yard but I've only taken my kicking shoe out of mothballs once this summer, for a camp I run at Shippensburg State in Pennsylvania. I bought the goal posts last winter just before the Cleveland Browns called and told me they wanted to try a younger guy. I can understand that, but I also know I still can kick.
If they put me head-to-head with the kickers in Washington, I'd beat them out.
There's another irony -- they seem ready to change holders. It's exactly what I wanted them to do last year. This is no knock on Jay Schroeder, but I had trouble with him. After so many years with Joe Theismann, well, you get in a groove, and Jay and I just never had it.
Last year in camp I asked the Redskins coaches to let me use Mark Rypien as my holder. They said no, because he probably wouldn't make the active roster. To them, he was a third team quarterback. To me, he played a very important position. He's been doing all the holding in preseason this year. I wish they would have let him do it last year.
We had a lot of problems a year ago. No question about it. I think where they made their mistake was that they lost confidence in my ability to make long field goals. Rather than try to let us work it out, they panicked. They ran Steve Cox out there to kick it from 48, 49, 50 yards and longer. I still believe the chances of me making those kind of kicks were better than his chances.
I was the guy out there practicing those kicks every day at Redskin Park, but they gave up on me. It's funny, they brought all those guys in over the years to try to beat me out and take my job, and a lot of them were very good kickers. But none of them could compete with me in training camp. So when we started having some problems, they saw a chance to replace me without having anyone go head-to-head with me. It was a perfect chance to let me go and I don't know where the decision came from. But I do know it was an emotional decision based on us getting killed by Dallas in the sixth game of the season.
I really thought I had gotten off to a good start last year. In camp, every kick was charted and I made all the big ones. On the last play of our preseason game against Pittsburgh, I made a 51-yarder to win the game. The next week in practice I was kicking real well.
Then we were getting ready for Philadelphia and the season opener. The day before the game, I read in the newspapers that Bobby Beathard was planning to bring in Raul Allegre to kick on Monday.
For me, the mental game had been piled on my head over the years. It didn't seem like anything I did was going to help. And then, I really started having trouble early in the season. Things just were not smooth. The hold is so important. It's a rhythm that was just not there. It probably wasn't even Jay as much as it was me. He's got great hands, he did what he was supposed to do. But I think I had gotten it into my head that I couldn't kick with him. I didn't have the confidence in him to make every kick. I went on to the field doubting myself.
Before that Dallas game, the pressure was really building. The Washington Times had a poll to get rid of Mark Moseley, and everybody made sure I knew what was going on. But I kicked well in practice; I even made three of four long kicks in the warm-ups before the game.
Right before the opening kickoff, Wayne Sevier, the special teams coach, came up to me and said, "You won't be kicking anything past 40 yards." He should have just put a noose around my neck and hung me from the goal post. That was my job, to make those kind of kicks. But I wasn't going to get a chance. The coaches also were panicky about guys blocking kicks from the outside, so I moved over a yard, out past the right hash mark, to compensate. So what happens? The first kick against Dallas, I hit the right upright.
Then we missed the extra point. I was talking to myself. Wayne wouldn't even look at me on the sidelines. Then they sent Steve in to kick a field goal. I felt that right there in the middle of the first half, I was no longer on the football team. As soon as the game was over, I broke down in the locker room. I knew it was over. I told my wife Sharon and my kids and my parents this was probably my last game for the Redskins. Thirteen years of my life had been devoted to that team. Now it was over.
But I want to emphasize something. I'm not bitter. I love the Redskins and I'll always love the Redskins. It's a wonderful organization, the fans were great to me and I'll be out there pulling for those guys as a fan myself.
To tell you the truth, I knew it was coming. It's a part of professional sports. I fought off the ax longer than anybody and for the last four or five years I was really able to hold off the meat cleaver. But each time I did, I probably upset some people in the organization. No, I'm not going to name names. I don't believe in that stuff. I just wish I knew what I ever did to get them unhappy with me.
The thing that saved the year for me was my experience in Cleveland. The Browns called me late in the season and they were just great to me. They treated me like they were glad I was there, and I didn't feel like I had to look over my shoulder every time I went out on the field.
When their kicker, Matt Bahr, went down with a knee injury, they needed me to help them win games down the stretch. I had to make field goals to win games. I also kicked off, something the Redskins wouldn't let me do over the last few years. In the playoffs, we consistently kept teams inside the 20 on kickoffs. In the AFC title game, Denver fumbled three times on kickoffs. The Cleveland coaching staff told me afterward we should have won the game just based on field position. Everybody remembers the Broncos' last drive to win the game. They had to go 98 yards because they started at the 2 after a kickoff and great coverage.
The Cleveland experience was wonderful, a fantastic way to go out. I did it right. I finished my career proving that I could still do it. I made my 300th field goal in Cleveland against San Diego, my last kick of my last regular season, and my wife and children were there to see it. It was a very special day.
But now, that's all behind me. I'm retired. The goal posts are really for my son Mark Moseley Jr. We call him Chip; he's 7 years old and I'm teaching him how to kick. He's a good little soccer player, but I'm going to teach him the straight on style. It's all I know.
I've got several businesses going and I'm enjoying being with the family for the first time. I can do what I want to do when I want to do it and that's all because of football.
I don't even think about playing again, but if somebody called it would probably take me only about two weeks to get my leg ready to kick in the NFL. I still run and lift weights and stay very active, so that wouldn't be a problem.
But it would have to be some real dire circumstances for me to try it again. Still, one thing every kicker knows is that life is always full of little surprises.
So I'll just leave it the way it is for now. If someone calls, I suppose I'll listen. But it's probably over for me now, and I really can't complain.