When I say football, the first thing that comes to people’s minds usually isn’t the placekicker. In fact, to be honest with you, the mascot usually comes up before we reach the punter. However, in that instant when a team lucks upon a legendary kicker, that name will often arise. In a position where mediocrity is the norm, the exceptional will rise to the top; and it’s that case with Louisville sports legend, James Robert “Rob” Bironas.
Please hold your shock when I tell you that future NFL kicker Rob Bironas initially was a soccer player. I’ve seen football coaches literally pull soccer players into pads to stick them on the field to kick. Well it wasn’t as direct for Bironas, but nonetheless, his football story starts like most kickers story start – with soccer.
It was at Trinity where he got his athletic “sea legs” so to speak. After unsuccessfully going out for the football team his first two years in high school, Bironas lettered his junior and senior years where he was a stand-out kicker.
Leaving his hometown after High School, Bironas became a red-shirt walk on at Auburn, where he was a standout kicker for the Tigers. It wasn’t until his senior year, though, that Bironas faced issues due to an injury and a coach change; two factors which led to his scholarship being dropped at the SEC powerhouse.
The kicker quickly rebounded, though, finding a place at Georgia Southern with a team that was destined to win the Division II-A championship. Despite the title, Bironas wasn’t invited to the NFL and came back to Louisville to work for his dad’s business. However, his passion remained, and he tried out for three different NFL teams: the Packers, the Buccaneers, and the Steelers; all of whom passed. He found himself kicking for the Arena Football League’s Carolina Cobras, meanwhile working at a Best Buy as a security guard.
It wasn’t until 2005 that the Tennessee Titans signed a contract for Bironas. Since then, Bironas has set the record for most field goals in a game, season, and made both the Pro-Bowl and All Pro-Teams.
It’s through his perseverance and work ethic that Rob Bironas is a sports legend of the Ville.
Image courtesy of Rob Bironas Online
Bironas in action as a Titan