This article appeared on Philly.com today regarding David Akers… He kicked a 51-yarder last Sunday. We’re still hoping he gets a crack at breaking the NFL record to kick a 64-yard field goal this year and we’ve promised to donate a million bucks to the Kicks for Kids Foundation.
Through it all, Eagles’ Akers still kicking
By Ray Parrillo, Inquirer Staff Writer
David Akers spent his 34th birthday Tuesday visiting Children’s Hospital as part of his Kicks for Kids Foundation, enjoying some rare free time with his family, and feeling pretty certain he wouldn’t have to answer questions from the media suggesting his future as the Eagles’ kicker was in jeopardy.
“I’ve tried this year not to pay attention to what’s in the media,” Akers said the other day. “So the only way I knew people were saying things was by the questions I was being asked.”
In consecutive weeks this season, Akers missed field goals from 50-plus yards against Chicago, Washington and San Francisco, and also one against the Bears from 40-plus yards. The Eagles lost the Sept. 28 game in Chicago, 24-20. Last season, Akers was 1 for 4 from 50-plus yards and 1 for 6 from 40 to 49 yards.
Akers, the franchise’s all-time-leading scorer, is in his 10th season with the Eagles. In his first eight, he’d made 59 percent from 50-plus yards and 72 percent between 40 and 49 yards.
On the misses earlier this season, leg strength wasn’t the issue. But as Akers said, you are what the numbers say you are, and the numbers were saying his job wasn’t as secure as it once was.
In Sunday’s critical 20-14 win over the Giants, Akers offered a mixed bag. He kicked two field goals, one from 51 yards that gave the Eagles a 3-0 lead, another from 34 yards that raised their lead to 20-7 in the fourth quarter. Another try was blocked by Justin Tuck and returned 71 yards by Kevin Dockery for a touchdown at the end of the first half. Tuck beat reserve tackle Winston Justice on the play. Another was tipped. In nine seasons, Akers had one blocked field goal. This season, he’s had three, two returned for TDs.
The bigger point is that Akers has reclaimed his status as a reliable kicker. The first block against the Giants ended a streak of 15 consecutive field goals, two shy of his team record. He is 6 for 7 from 40 to 49 yards, and he still has the leg strength to split the uprights from more than 50 yards.
In one season, Akers has gone from 2 for 10 from 40-plus yards to 7 for 11, a dramatic improvement.
Akers attributes his resurgence to an infomercial. Honest. The night before the Eagles played at Dallas last December, Akers saw an infomercial about a workout program called P90X, guaranteed to transform your body in 90 days through a rigorous training system that requires one hour a day.
Akers, a left-footed kicker, thought the program might solve a physical problem he was having with his right hip – the result, he believes, of a torn hamstring he suffered in 2005. It had become painful to plant his right leg before kicking.
“My hip was hurting,” he said. “I wanted to lose weight and balance my body.”
Akers spoke to Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder about the program, and Burkholder said that running back Ryan Moats had tried it. Akers went ahead with it during the off-season, shed 20 pounds – he’s down to 180 – and reduced his body fat by 30 percent.
“After I tore my hamstring I never really regained the true flexibility in my right leg, and a lot of the power comes from your plant leg,” he said. “I regained the flexibility, and I’d never before realized I needed to lose weight. I’d been 200 pounds. Now, I haven’t been this light since my freshman year at Louisville. “Believe it or not, I saw it on an infomercial.”
Akers looks back on the early-season misses and said the one he’d really like to have back is the one against Washington. “I look at the first two kicks in Chicago, and I aimed exactly where I wanted it to go,” he said. “I misjudged how powerful the wind was when I kicked them. The next week against the Redskins, I felt like I pulled it just a little bit. I felt like I swung too hard on the ball. There aren’t many days when I’ve hit 50 percent and felt I’d hit the ball really well. Then we had the block against the Niners, and we had the two blocks” against the Giants.
“I’m basically sure those two on Sunday would have gone through,” he continued. “That makes up the six [missed] kicks and you say, ‘Wow, that’s six misses. But . . .’ ”
Akers went on to crunch the numbers. He figured the blocked kicks from 32 and 34 yards would have been good. If so, his percentage would be 87.5, above the league average of 84.8. Instead, it’s 81.3.
“That being said, you are what your numbers say you are, and those numbers can be skewed for the good or the bad,” he said. The numbers also say Akers can claim to be a better kicker than he was last year (75 percent) and two years ago (78.3), and that the things people are saying about him aren’t so bad these days.
“I know one day my time will be up, and I don’t want it to be right now,” he said. “I want to play here as long as the Eagles organization will have me.”