MMQB’s Kalyn Kahler sat down with New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski to hear how he spent his summer, and how he has been preparing for the 2016 season. Gostkowski is a great interview with a lot to say and it’s even better when you realize that he’s Phil Dunphy’s twin from Modern Family.
On acting in the television show American Gothic:
“They were looking for a local player to act in the show because it is Boston-based and the plot centers around a family in Boston. They needed someone who looked like they were into politics, so I guess I fit the bill...It’s a lot of work to do one line in a TV show! I was there for, like, 12 hours, but it was a ton of fun, and the show seems like it is getting really good so I was very excited to be a part of it.”
I haven’t been able to find video footage of Gostkowski acting, but the general idea of his character was to endorse one of the lead roles in their endeavor to hold political office. I’d totally watch a movie based on all the Patriots players that are interested in film- Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, and now Gostkowski.
On QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s super secret:
“It’s not really a secret, but he is super tan all the time. I don’t know if he goes to a tanning bed … I don’t know. In all seriousness, Jimmy is a great dude, he is such a hard worker, funny dude, he seems like he has a great head on his shoulders and is very confident, which you like to see in your teammates.”
We all knew Jimmy uses a tanning bed. No surprise here. I have to admit that he’s crushing the postgame press conferences while looking like a guy from every RomCom known to mankind.
On missing the extra point in the AFC Championship Game against the Broncos:
“I beat myself up pretty hard on a weekly basis anytime I have a bad game, so I beat myself up for a little bit, but then I got over it. I personally had such a great season up until that point, and I’ve had a long career and been on a lot of really good teams. So I try to focus on the positives instead of dwelling on the negatives. You’ll go down a dark road if you just dwell on every time you screw up. We play a very fickle position. If I make nine kicks out of 10, people are going to talk about the one I missed.”
It’s brutal to be a kicker. You have to be 100% or no one will ever trust you. He has an unbreakable record of consecutive extra points converted and he’s the only kicker in the league to convert 90+% of his field goal attempts in each of the past three seasons.
He kicked a game-winning 54 yard field goal against the Giants with no time on the clock in week 10, he hit a 47 yard field goal against the Broncos with no time on the clock in week 12 to force overtime, and he made the extra point with 2 minutes left on the clock against the Jets in week 16 to force overtime.
But that one missed extra point will haunt him, even though the team did so many things wrong during that game.
On the league changing the extra point distance in 2015:
“The distance change was a fun challenge—it can get a little stale doing the same thing over and over again. To switch it up was nice—it felt like every play really mattered. So I tried to take that mentality with it. The extra point had gotten to be so easy that you didn’t have to think about it going out there.”
This is the mentality you want to see in a kicker, right? “Oh, this is difficult, how fun, right?” You want them to love the challenge because they won’t be afraid.
On the league changing the kick off touchback rule in 2016:
“Five yards is a lot in the NFL, so we'll just have to see what the coaches do with the strategy. I’ll be prepared for whatever they want, if they want me to hang it up a little more and not kick it 30 yards than I’ll do that; if they want me to just hang it away and kick touchbacks, then I’ll do that. “
Gostkowski has recorded a touchback on 7 of the team’s 13 kickoffs. The new rule means that teams will start on the 25 yard line after a touchback, instead of the 20 yard line. The average start point for each returned kick has been the 19 yard line, which means that the Patriots save an average of 6 yards when they allow the opposing team to return the kick.
Just some food for thought.
On punter Ryan Allen and snapper Mean Joe Cardona:
“Your job is very dependent on them, and if they aren’t doing their job right, they can make you look really silly. But Ryan and Joe are so good, I would dare to say that Ryan is the best holder in the NFL. I mean, he is so good. He does such a good job...And Joe was so good as a rookie last season and it's nice to have continuity and have the same teammates for a couple years. I’ve gone through a ton of snappers and holders in my career so far, so hopefully as long as I’m here we can all stick together for awhile. And Joe is a member of the Navy, which is really cool and has been an added bonus to the team. It has brought a cool dynamic to our team.”
Is Ryan Allen’s holding ability one of the key reasons for keeping him around? The Patriots were tied as the 25th best punting unit in the NFL last year by DVOA, after ranking 16th in 2014 and 5th in Allen’s rookie 2013 season. The Patriots have ranked 1st in field goal and extra point DVOA in each of those years and Allen’s holding is a big component.
On how he mentally prepares before a kick:
“Any kind of second guessing or doubt can be the difference between a made or missed kick. I just try to calm myself down and not think too much. I try to play stupid, I sing a song in my head when I go out there. I am basically just trying to be a robot.”
What would your kicking song be? I feel like it should be Ocean Sounds or something. Maybe some Yanni.
On totally being a front runner as a baseball fan:
“It’s been hard not to be a Red Sox fan, living in Boston for a long time. But I have also been a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals for a while. I root for both of those teams. My favorite pitcher of all time was Pedro Martinez. I loved watching him. I used to watch Roy Halladay, when he was with the Blue Jays. One of my buddies, Matt Cain, pitches for the Giants, so I have a lot of guys that I like to watch.”
Gostkowski just so happens to be a fan of the Red Sox, Cardinals, and Giants- the teams responsible for eight of the past 12 World Series titles. C’mon, Ghost. Pick one and don’t get greedy.
Gostkowski also talks more about acting, the mental aspect of kicking, the relationship between being a pitcher and a kicker, and more. Check it out here.