Tavec­chio sticks with NFL dream and kicks way to his­tory

Ripon Bulletin - - Sports -

ALAMEDA (AP) — Gior­gio Tavec­chio was ready to give up his dreams of kick­ing in the NFL and take a busi­ness job in Lon­don.

The pain of be­ing cut six times with­out ever play­ing an NFL game had taken its toll men­tally on Tavec­chio and he was ready to move on be­fore the Oak­land Raiders gave him a call to come to camp for a fourth straight year as the backup to Se­bas­tian Janikowski.

Af­ter talking the sit­u­a­tion over with Raiders spe­cial teams coach Brad Seely, Tavec­chio de­cided to give it a fi­nal shot.

“We kind of talked through the ping­pong bat­tle go­ing on in my head and in my heart. You just have to kind of fol­low your heart,” Tavec­chio said Wed­nes­day. “I knew what my heart wanted. Ob­vi­ously, you want to make it . ... You give a lot of your­self. When you’re re­jected so many times, it takes a lot to put your­self back out there.”

There are no re­grets now

af­ter a back in­jury to Janikowski gave Tavec­chio his first shot in a game and he made the most of it by be­com­ing the first player in NFL his­tory to kick two field goals of at least 50 yards in his de­but.

Tavec­chio added two other field goals and a pair of ex­tra points to earn the AFC Spe­cial Teams Player of the Week award.

“Ab­so­lutely amaz­ing. Some of these things are like a movie, you know?” quar­ter­back Derek Carr said. “Talk

about a guy that de­serves ev­ery­thing that’s com­ing his way; just a good per­son, that’s kind of the theme around here. He’s a good dude and he works his tail off.”

It’s been quite a jour­ney for Tavec­chio to ar­rive at NFL fame. Born in Mi­lan, Italy, to an Amer­i­can mother and Ital­ian fa­ther, Tavec­chio came to the United States as a child and ended up in the Bay Area town of Mor­aga.

Con­sis­tent with his Ital­ian roots, Tavec­chio took more to soc­cer than foot­ball but tried place kick­ing as a sopho­more in high school mostly so he could go to the team bar­be­cues.

He then was set to play soc­cer in col­lege at UC Davis but opted to go to Cal­i­for­nia when he got a chance to walkon as a foot­ball player.

Af­ter four years at Cal, Tavec­chio be­gan his at­tempt to make the NFL. Seely brought him to San Fran­cisco in 2012 as the backup to David Ak­ers but he never made the team. The next sea­son he signed with Green Bay only to get cut again.

His best chance might have come with Detroit in 2014 but he was beaten out by Nate Freese and joined the Raiders for the fi­nal ex­hi­bi­tion game. Oak­land brought Tavec­chio

back to camp again in 2015, ‘16 and ‘17 only to cut him each time be­fore the start of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

“Some peo­ple would think it would get eas­ier with get­ting cut, but it ac­tu­ally got harder,” Tavec­chio said. “There were dif­fi­cult times when you ques­tion, ‘Can I keep giv­ing my­self in this way only to be de­jected again?’ Shake­speare said, ‘It’s bet­ter to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.’ Some­times I ques­tion that, but again right now, I’m grate­ful for that. In 20 years, hope­fully I’ll look back and say, ‘What­ever hap­pens, I gave it ev­ery­thing.’”

Photo cour­tesy of Raiders

Gior­gio Tavec­chio (2) cel­e­brates with Cor­dar­relle Pat­ter­son af­ter con­vert­ing one of his four field goals, in­clud­ing two that went 50-plus yards, in the Oak­land Raiders’ 26-16 win at Ten­nessee on Sun­day.

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