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