After going through three different punters during the 2010 season, the Washington Redskins found some much-needed stability this year with the acquisition of free agent Sav Rocca.
The 38-year-old Australian has recorded 26 punts inside the 20-yard-line and only one touchback this season, which ties him for first in the NFC and second in the NFL.
A fifth-year veteran, Rocca came to the NFL (he spent his first four seasons in Philadelphia) after a standout, 15-year career in Australian Rules Football.
In today’s Gameday Q&A, the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Rocca talks about his first season with the Redskins, his playing days back home and his love of sports in general.
How would you describe your first season with the Redskins?
“Obviously, I wanted to win games, I wanted to get into the playoffs as a team and pretty much take it from there. One of my goals, coming to this country, was to win a Super Bowl. So that’s definitely something I still want to achieve before I go back.”
You had a successful career in Australian Football. When did you decide to come to the NFL?
“It was pretty much midway through my last season. I knew I was going to retire in Australia and from there I started to focus more on punting the ball.”
You have a ton of YouTube highlights from your Australian Football League days. How do you look back on your career in that sport?
“I just loved marking, catching balls and kicking goals over there. That’s what I enjoyed and that’s what I did for 15 years. Just being around, a lot of people don’t really get that opportunity to work with 50 guys to achieve one goal. And when you achieve that, it’s pretty special, and those guys, you don’t forget for the rest of your life. Here, I want to do the same thing. It’s pretty special. Hopefully we can get to that.”
How would you describe that sport to someone who’s not very familiar with it?
“It’s hard. The main thing is we kick the ball to pass it as opposed to throwing it. We have 18 people on the field. It’s a free-flowing game. Four quarters in 30 minutes, and the objective, obviously is to kick goals, and we also hand-ball to pass it as well. It’s quite different.”
How do you get into the professional ranks of Australian Football?
“When I was growing up, scouts would go, and you were zoned. Wherever you lived, you were zoned to a team. I was zoned to the Collingwood Magpies and they got me down there. They send scouts to look at local football games and high school football games. Now there are drafts. But that’s how I got there.”
Do you still have a big following back home?
“There are people that follow me, but I don’t have groupies or anything like that. I get recognized when I go out, but it’s nothing crazy.”
This season we’ve seen you make a couple of big downfield tackles on punt coverage. Most punters shy away from contact. Why don’t you?
“I just like contact. Our game back home, you had to have a lot of contact, and it’s something I enjoy doing. If I can get down there and make a tackle and help the team out, it’s something I like to do.”
What sports did you play as a kid?
“I was a shot-put and discus thrower since I was six, seven years old. I was the Australian under-9-age champion in discus and from there, I transferred to football.”
Who did you get your competitive nature from?
“I’ve always had high expectations for myself, and it’s what I do. It was something my parents wanted me to achieve and once I got into it, it was something I enjoyed doing. I always wanted to achieve a lot. You see people on TV and you have your people you admire, and you want to achieve those things as well.”
Most people would love to have a good career in one professional sport, and you’ve stood out in two. Do you ever reflect on that?
“Some times you’ve got to stop and think, ‘Wow, I’m really over here doing something so rare that not a lot of people have done: competing in a sport back there and then coming here.’ I’m very excited and very privileged to be here. It’s definitely something I enjoy.”
What do you do for an escape from football?
“I don’t have a lot of time for hobbies when I’m here. But I do occasionally like to go to the range, do clay target shooting, do some pigeon shooting, some pistol shooting at the range. I haven’t played golf in a while, but I used to enjoy playing golf. Volleyball and those sorts of things. The body’s getting a little old for volleyball, but it was one of the things I liked.”
So you’re just an all-around sportsman, huh?
“It’s what I do. I was never one to put all my time into the academics. Sports is where I put a lot of my time.”
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