Defenseless Specialists Not So Defenseless


Dec 15, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Terence Garvin (57) tackles Cincinnati Bengals punter Kevin Huber (10) during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Following Terence Garvin’s earth shattering block of Bengals punter Kevin Huber on Antonio Brown’s punt return for a touchdown, many fans were very upset at Garvin for not only putting Huber out of the game, but out for the season.

Garvin’s block was rendered illegal, and he was fined 25,000 for his block, but what has been brought up from it is a bigger issue. What do we do with punters and kickers? Should they run to the sideline after they kick or punt the ball? Should it be illegal to even come into contact with the specialists? Should these specialists be fair game?

All of these arguments have been brought up, but what should the league really do? According to the VP of Officiating Dean Blandino, punters and kickers are “defenseless throughout the down.” While this may comfort some specialists, others, like Colts punter Pat McAfee are somewhat upset about this, explaining his stance on the topic:

"This defenseless thing, I don’t really know what it means. It kind of sets us back a little bit as a position"

For a long time, punters and kickers have argued the belief that they are just as much football players as any linebacker or safety is. Not known for being the strongest or the fastest, punters and kickers such as McAfee want to shake the stereotype that they are too weak.

But, the statistics may show otherwise. The easy answer may be that punters and kickers should be left alone, able to do as they please, but punters and kickers may play a larger role in special teams coverage than people might think. During the Packers game, both Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders appeared to be on their way to pay dirt, but the person to stop both of them was the punter Tim Masthay (Brown) and Mason Crosby (Sanders). Even Shaun Suisham at one point saved a Packer return touchdown by tackling Micah Hyde.

Long story short, punters and kickers can have an impact on special teams other than with their foot, so what should the league do Steeler Nation? Let us know in the poll.

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