Scotland hasn’t produced any football or rugby World Cup winners despite the two being the most popular sports in the country.
It has however produced a Super Bowl winner (a two-time winner at that) – the greatest prize in all of America and one of the sporting world’s truly great showcases.
Only three years after his latest success however, Lawrence Tynes from Greenock is without a team.
Tynes was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers exactly one month ago on March 11th. It’s now exactly a day less than a month (May 10th) until this year’s NFL Draft is over, where teams can select young and promising players.
After winning two Super Bowls with the New York Giants (in 2007 and 2011), Tynes left the Giants in 2012. Despite making a career high 33 from 39 field goals – and making the ‘alternate’ Pro Bowl roster for his performances – the kicker was replaced by younger player Josh Brown so the Giants could free up some roster space and money in the cap room.
Tynes then joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the summer with two months until the season started. Tampa’s star kicker Connor Barth was struck down by injury and Tynes was seen as an experienced player with proven ability.
Tynes’ time in Tampa turned sour quickly though. Within those two months, Tynes has contracted MRSA in his foot and claimed it was down to the state of the facility (showers, tubs, turf) much to the disdain of the Bucs’ regime.
After placing Tynes on the non-football injury list for the year, tensions only increased. This was Tampa’s way of denying Tynes certain contractual rights and benefits, in addition to suggesting his injury was not their fault.
Tynes faught back: “If I drop a 45-pound plate on my foot while lifting weights in the weight room at the facility, it’s IR. So I just don’t understand how my situation is any different. I went to work, I kicked, I practiced, I cold-tubbed, I hot-tubbed, I showered for all those days there. I come up with MRSA and it’s a non-football injury? They’re basically trying to exonerate themselves of this, and I’m not going to allow it to happen.”
This escalated to a dispute between league authorities and the NFL Player’s Association as well as an ongoing feud with Tampa and Tynes. As Tynes saw limited playing time and saw out his tenure slumped on a couch on an IV.
That’s quite a harrowing journey for a guy who kicked two NFC Championship Game-winning field goals in the dying seconds (in terrible conditions too) in the two times his team went to the Super Bowl and won it all.
With the NFL Draft approaching, it’s likely a few teams will be o the lookout for a kicker. Some have released last season’s kickers for various reasons: lack of accuracy, lack of leg strength/kick power, and a lack of ‘clutch’ ability. Tynes still has enough in the tank for adequate measurements in the first two categories – but it is the third where he excels, as evidenced by his kicks above.
The annual Draft gives teams the chance to pick players out of college and sign them to the roster or to compete for a spot. They are generally much cheaper than signing veterans in free agency but Tynes’ value will not be as high as some others given his injury-ravaged 2013 season.
Someone like Tynes can also teach and mentor a young player should a team that picks him up decide to draft a kicker anyway. Tynes is 35 and while kickers can last a bit longer than most, I suspect he doesn’t have more than a couple of years left.
A couple of years learning is invaluable for a young player though, especially considering Tynes’ trials and tribulations; growing up in Greenock and moving to America when he was 10, having a brother in the army and another in jail, and having to kick two of the most important goals in Giants’ history.
Tynes still has a lot to offer and I certainly hope he makes a roster this year so he can end his career on much brighter terms.
That’s what a champion deserves.