KICK­STARTED

The Gulf Today - Panorama - - SPORT - By Alan Dy­mock

With two kicks, Michael Dickson si­mul­ta­ne­ously rolled back the clock and sent it whirring.

In the sec­ond round of the Na­tional Foot­ball League (NFL) sea­son, the rookie Seat­tle Sea­hawks punter (a player who kicks the ball far into the op­pos­ing team’s side) pulled out a rare drop­kick for a kick-off against the Chicago Bears. He would later at­tempt an­other drop-kick in the game, this time for an on­side kick as the Sea­hawks tried in vain to over­come the Bears.

Drop-kicks, moves in which the ball is dropped and kicked as it bounces up from the ground, were all the rage in the 20s and 30s but only a few had been seen since 1941. Then two came at once. The cor­ner of the in­ter­net where Amer­i­can Foot­ball thrives was abuzz. On the eve of the Sea­hawks’ sixth-round game against the Oak­land Raiders at Wem­b­ley last Sun­day, the in­form Aus­tralian punter con­sid­ers why ev­ery­one got so damned ex­cited.

“I was sur­prised,” he says of the re­ac­tion. “It worked out well — I kicked it to the one (yard line [0.9-me­tre]) and it didn’t get much of a re­turn. There are more things that you can do with it. You can hit shorter ones with more hang, long ones, knuckle ones that are hard to catch. There are all these dif­fer­ent ones you can hit. It’s just about get­ting con­sis­tency with it.”

Pressed on whether there re­ally is scope to ex­per­i­ment in the cut­throat NFL, Dickson in­sists there is — but that dif­fer­ent tech­niques bam­boo­zle dif­fer­ent teams. There is a rea­son the drop-kick hasn’t been used lib­er­ally; it will not be ef­fec­tive against ev­ery op­po­nent.

The world for Dickson must be an ex­cit­ing place. In AFL (Aus­tralian Foot­ball League), the Syd­ney na­tive grabbed

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