Nine days after he reached an agreement with the Washington Redskins to join the team as a free agent, punter Sav Rocca finally took the practice field Saturday.
The 6-foot-5, 265-pound Australian wasn’t able to join the team sooner because he was in his native land and still working to obtain a work visa. Rocca spent the first four seasons of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles, but his contract had expired, and he couldn’t get a new visa until he had signed with a new team.
Usually, it would’ve taken two to three weeks for the application to be processed, Rocca said. But he was able to get it expedited, and after a 25-hour journey (which included a flight from Melbourne to Los Angeles, a three-hour layover and then a flight from L.A. to Dulles) Rocca reached the area Friday evening.
“My head was spinning last night,” the punter said. “Even though I can say it was a long process, it was relatively quick, so it was good once it all went through. People think that I was stuck over there and it wasn’t going through, but five days once a petition was lodged to get over here is one of the quickest that’s ever happened. Usually it takes two to three weeks, so I was grateful.”
Rocca last season averaged 43.8 yards a punt for the Eagles, but pre-lockout negotiations between him and the team were fruitless. After the league’s labor dispute was resolved, “things went cold,” he said.
He said the Redskins were attractive for a number of reasons.
“It’s not too far from where I live, and it’s a good team,” said Rocca, who has a house in New Jersey. “They’ve had good success in the past, so we wanted to get over here, and the coaches assured me that I’ve got good special teams and a good coverage unit. It was a good lure.”