The San Diego Chargers just forked over roughly $19 million ($10 million guaranteed) to a punter. Let that one soak in for a minute.
The Chargers gave Mike Scifres a five-year extension that will keep him in San Diego through 2016 and pay him a ridiculous sum of money for a punter. That said, anyone who has watched him perform throughout his career will tell you he probably deserves every cent of that contract.
Scifres is universally recognized as one of the NFL’s top punters, and most regard him as the best or second only to the Oakland Raiders’ Shane Lechler. It’s hard to disagree with that assessment, especially considering that Scifres is the only punter I’ve ever seen win a playoff game almost single-handedly.
For those who don’t know, Scifres is also kind of a badass. He played almost the entire 2009 season with a bilateral hernia and an abdominal tear, and never once complained or asked out of a game. For those wondering what, exactly, punting with a bilateral hernia or abdominal tear would feel like, rest assured it hurts. A lot. Scifres’ reasoning for continuing to play through the excruciating pain: He’s paid to play, not sit out. He also added that as long as he could lace up his cleats he would be on the field.
Love that attitude from any football player but especially a punter.
While last year was tough for the veteran who will turn 31 next month. The Chargers’ special teams were awful thanks to poor blocking and tackling. Scifres had four punts blocked and one deflected, but still managed to set a team record for gross average (46.7 yards per punt).
Scifres was a fifth-round pick out of Western Illinois in 2003 and has been booming the crap out of balls ever since. From 2004-09 he was a Pro Bowl alternate (thanks to Lechler being in the same conference) and should be again this year if the team can finally give him enough time to get the ball off.
Frankly, I have to applaud this contract, despite the cost. Making sure Scifres finishes his career as a Charger is important and with this move, general manager A.J. Smith all but ensured that.