NFL Punter Says He’s “Not An Actual ‘Football’ Player.” Is He Right?

  • Dylan Murphy

During the Texans’ Monday night blowout loss to the New England Patriots, punter Donnie Jones injured his leg while trying to tackle Wes Welker. That a punter was injured while trying to do an athletic thing isn’t anything new. Jones, conciliatory reaction, however, well that’s a new one.

We’ll let him explain (via PFT):

“‘I told those guys, I said, ‘Look, you guys are NFL football players, I’m not,’ Jones said, via ‘So when I get a little bruise or something, it is what it is. I know my role. But it’s all in good fun.


‘Yeah, I mean I’m not an actual NFL ‘football’ player,’ Jones said. ‘I mean, come on. We know our roles. I had the same type thing in 2008. I had to push DeSean Jackson out of bounds. Somehow I chased him down, don’t know how I did it, and I fell and my knee blew up. Every now and then you get one. We’re punters and kickers. We’re a different breed.'”

This one’s a rather polarizing subject. On the one hand, kicking and punting is a skill, and an impressive one. It takes serious talent to boot field goals with consistency, let alone 50-yarders, or punt the ball to the corners of a football field. If it were easy, teams wouldn’t cycle through kickers and punters so quickly. Not to mention that, unlike most positions, kickers and punters have extremely short leashes. Because their job security rides on the outcome of a single play, it’s arguably the most pressurized position in sports. Just take Mike Vanderjagt, the fourth most accurate kicker in the history of the NFL, who was cut after he shanked a game-tying kick against Pittsburgh in the 2006 playoffs.

On the flip side we have the rah-rah-tackle-tackle-steroids-big-muscles argument, that kickers and punters have no semblance of athleticism and are the outliers among the most gifted athletes on the planet. Which, technically, is true, though we’d argue that because kicking and punting is a part of the game, it is just as football-y and important. But the larger point that Jones is making, that there’s a discernible difference between himself and, say, DeSean Jackson, is true. He is a different breed. But until football outlaws kickers and punters, that different breed should probably continue to breed away.