Answering my own questions since 2001

Why Aren’t There Any African-American Kickers in the NFL?

People get uncomfortable when you talk about race and ethnicity. I think it’s because my generation in Canada was taught that the way to avoid racism was not to talk about race. That’s a lousy approach, and fails to recognize the richness inherent in ethnic diversity.

Regardless, onto my very trivial ethnicity topic du jour. Over the holidays, I watched some college football. Then this weekend I watched some of the NFL playoffs. It occurred to me: all the kickers are Caucasian.

That fact is particularly odd because 75% of all NFL players are African American. There used to be a lot of bias and racism around certain positions–for a long time there were very few African American quarterbacks, for example. I gather that’s changing for the better.

So why are there so few black kickers? There have been a few. Reggie Roby, for example.

I did some digging around Google, and the only reason I came up with was expressed by this dubiously-capitalized editorial:

It is quite a bit murkier when it comes to kicking a football. African Americans may have to take the Blame here. Some observers suggest it is because Soccer playing produces the best kickers and lots of white kids play soccer while few Black kids do. Well who is to Blame here. Soccer is even cheaper to play than football or basketball.

That makes sense. I randomly checked five NFL kickers’ Wikipedia entries for references to soccer, but I only found one that mentioned the sport. I can’t imagine that there are many kids of any colour who dream of being placekickers and punters, but you never know.

Can you think of any other reasons for this statistical abnormality?

17 Responses to “Why Aren’t There Any African-American Kickers in the NFL?”

  1. Brian El

    Darren: i’m not sure, but i’ll brief you more when i move to the 49ers and get the inside track.

  2. mike spino

    Are there any african american kickers in college. This needs to be brought to the attention of the youth leagues

  3. DMan

    Gene Mingo and “Cookie” Gilchrist were both African-American place kickers in the AFL. Mingo broke Lou Groza’s mark for most field goals in a season. Gilchrist was a multi-position player who was a beast at fullback, as well.

  4. JP

    Most Kickers are usually soccer players (ex: Sebastian Janakowski) which isn;t too big in the US. If you notice, most have foreign last names.

    PS Reply:

    Alright i was just randomly looking up info on African-American kickers in the NFL, and I’m sorry but I had to reply the the previous comment because it is so ignorant. What the heck do you mean most kicker’s have foreign name’s?! What is a foreign name?! This is the United States!, the only domestic last names would be those of Native Americans. I know my name doesn’t originate in the states and i’m pretty sure yours doesn’t either JP. I work in retail and I had this lady come in and talk trash about Barak Obama because she could imagine having a president with a “foreign last name” as you say… I’m not an Obama supporter but seriously what the hell is wrong with you people?! You give this country a bad name and are completely ignorant and should really figure out how this nation was formed and stop thinking you are superior because you are “american” and stop being afraid of “foreigners” because you know what your family used to be foreigners too!

  5. Flam Davis

    I think it’s because african americans tend to have more athletic ability than white people, that’s why they play more phisically demanding positions like running back or reciever. You hardly see white people playing those positions.

  6. DMV

    PS: There are lots of African-American Kickers: Ex: Egerkeze and Medlock

  7. Will Hawkins

    hey nigger kick this ball! doesnt sound right does it?

  8. dave

    i think the answer probably is linked to the soccer issue, since it is absolutely true that most place kickers at the high school and college level have a soccer background. i don’t have the empirical data to back this up, but my perception is that soccer is more popular with white kids, so there would be a larger pool of white people with long range kicking skills.

    to add a racist element to this argument, perhaps the kickers that take up football are decent soccer players with exceptionally strong legs, but don’t have the other athletic tools to make it to the next level (college or what have you). perhaps the black players that do play soccer generally don’t fall into this category because they are more athletic (e.g. shani davis).

    as far as the article you cited is concerned, i’m not sure “blame” is the fair word, as soccer can be very expensive, posh, and exclusive especially at the competitive youth traveling league level where good players develop before high school.

  9. cosmo kramer

    cause niggers legs are better for running, not kicking. Which is why they steal so much.

    =) enjoy your day.

  10. don

    my son is black and plays soccer in high school. he was the only freshman in the vasity team last year. he runs the 100m in 12 seconds in his only track event. he was the second string forward on this falls varsity team. while playing around with friends, the football coach saw him kick a football for the first time and it went 50 yards. he was barefooted and with training. the coach is asking him to be the kicker next season. he is one of two black soccer players in a mostly white neighborhood in a private school.
    we just did the research and was that the average mls player makes 80k, while a kicker in the nfl makes 250k. he loves soccer, but will go out for the kicker. the hs white goalie kicks over 60 yards and one of the white defenders kicks 40 yards with both football and soccer balls

  11. bri

    To Cosmos Kramer:

    Your level of ignorance is exemplary of the racial stereotypes that still exist. I feel very sorry for you :). Whatever you give to the universe is what you receive. We are a people who will thrive and it must kill you to see black men flourish. I would hate that too if I were you. Lol. I love it when garbage spew off hatred. People like you are comical relief, because cowards like you hide behind a computer. Yet we talk about terrorists in other countries. People like you are a bigger threat to America by the hate you spread. God be with you. Lol.

  12. obi won kanobi

    I think it is because black people view kicking as uncool.

  13. Xavier

    My name is Xavier d Crawford.I am from de la salle high school in new Orleans La. I was a back up kicker/punter/kos and fresh man saftey for 4 years and I also played middle school flagfoot ball and basketball for St Peter Claver new Orleans for 7 and 8grade. I attended Delgado but left because of hurricane kattrina then I atened kingwood in humble , houston Texas. I left because of a storm name Rita. I attended Gary Job Corps in San Marcoles that’s outside San Antonio. Where I played football,baseball,basketball and went to Texas State Games. My favorite player and nick name was Reggie Roby and x. I don’t. Like what was said about a black kicker/punter. I had white friends that I played with and they may had started over me but I was cool with them. So I think Nigger was unapropiate for your web site. I would prove the kkk and rasist wrong.By overcomeing like Martin Luther King.

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