Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka is my kind of guy
By Jim Moore
When the Seattle Post-Intelligencer was still around, I wrote all kinds of sports columns, including those that profiled local athletes.
In every interview, I would ask a player if he had a dog, played golf and drank beer. I figured if he said “yes” to two out of three, he’d be all right in my book and even all right in my library if I had one.
And if he said “yes” to all three, I’d really consider him my kind of guy. To my way of thinking, if you have a dog, play golf and drink beer, you’re probably a good husband, good friend, good son, good everything.
I’m sure you know a guy who has a dog, plays golf and drinks beer who’s an absolute loser, but I don’t want to hear about him because it would wreck my working premise, as flimsy as it might be.
Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka hopes to settle down in Seattle. (AP)
Besides, I don’t think Steven Hauschka is an exception to the Go 2 Guy’s rule. I met the Seahawks’ kicker Thursday and found him to be laid-back, mild-mannered and very cool.
He’s 15-for-17 on his field-goal attempts this season – missing only a 61-yarder against Atlanta and another at Dallas when Anthony Spencer of the Cowboys leap-frogged the Seahawks’ line and blocked his kick.
But Hauschka, 26, was a perfect 3-for-3 in the interview:
• He has a pug-Chihuahua mix named Jack, which is short for Jack Daniels, the whiskey and a Haushka favorite “but not during the season.” Jack sleeps on top of Hauschka and his wife Lindsey. What does he like best about Jack? “He’s so excited to see you when you get home. He goes crazy.”
• As is the case with many kickers, Hauschka not only golfs, he’s good at it, carrying a 5-handicap.
• He likes beer and says his favorite brews are Mac and Jack’s and Manny’s Pale Ale.
Hauschka’s story starts in Needham, Mass – a suburb of Boston where he was born – and jumps all over the place.
After graduating from Needham High School, Hauschka went to Middlebury College – a prominent liberal arts school in Vermont. He walked on to the soccer team and didn’t join the football team until his roommates talked him into it.
He went to Middlebury for academics – I haven’t checked, but I’m assuming Hauschka is the only NFL kicker with a degree in neuroscience, the study of the brain and nervous system.
Hauschka planned to be a dentist. “My mom and brother are dentists, and I figured it would be a pretty good profession,” he said.
He attended graduate school at North Carolina State and had one season of college eligibility left. Hauschka made the most of it, attracting NFL attention with his big and accurate right leg.
The Minnesota Vikings signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2008, and Hauschka has bounced around like a tumbleweed since, spending time with the Ravens, Falcons, Lions, Broncos and even the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League.
Baltimore was the only place where he was truly viewed as the No. 1 kicker, but the Ravens released him in the middle of the 2009 season after he missed his fourth field goal.
“I was kind of bummed,” he said. “I thought they cut ties earlier than thay should have.”
He had a hard time admitting it, but I could sense that he took a little extra satisfaction in tying a Seahawks’ record by kicking five field goals in a 22-17 win over the Ravens last Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
“I wanted to have a solid game against them, and I was happy to do that,” he said. “But there’s no hard feelings. I was trying to treat it like (just) another game.”
He was in Denver in the preseason and beat the Seahawks with a 51-yard field goal. Thrown by the loss of free agent Olindo Mare to Carolina, the Hawks signed Hauschka the day after he was released by the Broncos. No one has missed Mare since – Hauschka has proven just as accurate and just as good with distance on his kickoffs.
Hauschka appreciated that his coach, Pete Carroll, had enough confidence to send him out for a 61-yard field goal try against the Falcons. Even though there was a slight breeze in his face, he thought he could make it but did not hit it well.
“It was better than a Hail Mary,” Hauschka said.
In the right conditions, such as those in New York last month or Dallas earlier this month, Hauschka thinks his range extends to 63 yards.
He hopes he’s found a permanent home here. Hauschka got married last summer, and he and Lindsey and Jack plan to live in Kirkland year-round. He and his wife are tired of moving around and want to establish roots.
If he travels in the offseason, it will be to anywhere where the surf’s up. Hauschka loves to surf and says he’s pretty good at it. While at Middlebury, there was a program in which he taught English to students in Costa Rica. He learned to surf in the beachfront town of Noscara, where the waves get as high as 10 to 12 feet. “I’m not bad for only doing it a couple weeks a year,” he said. “Once you get up, it’s really rewarding.”
So far, his stay in Seattle has been too.