Let’s get the two simplest and most important bits of information out of the way first:
1) Hunter Smith is NOT yet ruled out for this week’s game. “We’ll just have to see,” Smith said. “We’re working hard to get back.” There’s not much more that he can do at this point; “We know I have a strained muscle,” he explained, “and we’re just gonna see if it comes back in time.” The decision may not be made until Friday or Saturday.
2) New punter Glenn Pakulak‘s last name is pronounced (roughly) “Pack-uh-lack,” and he didn’t seem upset to be asked. His first name is pronounced “glen”.
Smith called Pakulak a nice guy, but acknowledged, “I’m not real familiar with his work. I know he’s a lefty.”
That one specific — left-footedness — has given Pakulak a life as an NFL nomad, wandering from city to city as teams bring him for weeks when they’re preparing for other left-footed punters. The lifestyle sounds less than appealing, being a one-week hired leg, but Pakulak has stuck with it.
“I think my competitive nature just hasn’t given me a chance to give up on it quite yet,” he said today. “Sometimes I wish I wasn’t quite as competitive, but it’s kept me going and I’m here today, so….” He gestured around the locker room and shrugged.
He’s here because he won a four-man kicking competition yesterday, which he described as “a little nerve-wracking. I think sometimes in situations like that you might not even perform your best,” he continued, “because there’s four other guys there and all you’re all kinda watching each other and trying to one-up the other guy. And sometimes it takes you away from doing what you do best. But it was good. Worked out good yesterday.”
In between gigs, Pakulak has picked up the same kind of part-time work as pretty much everyone else I know. “I worked construction,” he said, “I’ve waited tables, I bartended, you know … doin’ quite a bit of stuff.” (He wasn’t a crazy flair bartender, though, just a reliable drinkslinger. Yes, I asked. And yes, this means that the last two guys to join the Redskins were a bartender and a bingo caller.)
He’s thought about packing it in, but it sounds like even packing it in wouldn’t really mean giving up on his NFL dream. “Even if I had to move on,” he said calmly, “I could still go out and kick balls three times a week and make phone calls. I could’ve gotten a teaching job and still went in the backyard and punted fifty balls three times a week and still called” around to teams.
“It’s hard to walk away from it,” he said.
Which left one question: what’s so special about left-footed punters. Hunter Smith explained, “He might have a direction he goes better. Might be the opposite, might be the same — kickers and punters are all screwed up in that regard. But he’s a good-sized fella with a good leg, and I’m sure if he has to step in he’ll do a good job.”
Tags: glenn pakulak, GlennPakulak, hunter smith, HunterSmith, rover wanderer nomad vagabond, RoverWandererNomadVagabond
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