That was a tough way for the Jets to lose Thursday night — on a Hail Mary 58-yard field goal try by Nick Folk that failed to clear the big paw of Patriots defensive tackle Chris Jones. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rex Ryan, assuming he could get himself to sleep afterward, had a dream like this:
For the record, that’s one, two, three, four 1936 Green Bay Packers knocking through 50-yarders. This is from a promotional video filmed in Hollywood after the Packers beat the Boston Redskins to win the NFL title. No. 7 is Hall of Fame fullback Clarke Hinkle, No. 57 is tackle Ade Schwammel, No. 52 is guard Tiny Engebretsen and No. 59 is center Frank Butler. (I’m going by the all-time uniform numbers listed in the Packers’ 2014 media guide. It’s also possible No. 59 is tackle Ernie Smith, who did most of their kicking.)
As you can see, all of them are good-sized guys. Teams back then liked kickers with “a heavy leg.” They figured it helped get more distance. Note, too, the white footballs — which were used for night games because they were more visible and were used in this instance for the same reason, so the camera could pick them up in the distance.
Imagine having four players on your team capable of booting a 50-yarder. Of course, it was more of a kicking game in those days, so it was a skill you developed if you had the ability. It wasn’t unusual for a club to rotate several kickers — depending, perhaps, on the distance of the kick. Some kickers were better on the shorter ones, some were better on the longer ones.