Punting is one of the least exciting aspects of the game of football to fans. This article I just read about retired punter Craig Hentrich passing on a “knuckleball punt” to current Tennessee Titans punter Brett Kern just made it a lot more interesting.
Go knuckles deep, Tennessean:
Craig Hentrich retired, but he left his knuckleball punt behind. Now it’s up to Brett Kern to keep the tradition going.
Kern, who replaced Hentrich when the 16-year veteran went on injured reserve last season, is the favorite to win the Titans’ punting job in training camp. Last season, he was exceptional, averaging 45 yards, including a 41.4-yard net, in the final 10 games.
This offseason he has tried to add the knuckleball punt, which Hentrich taught him.
“I have worked hard on it, trying to perfect it. I’m still getting some tips from Craig,” Kern said. “Now it is a matter of going out and doing it in practice with a rush in the preseason and things like that. Being able to execute in the game is totally different, but that’s what I hope to do.”
In organized team activities, Kern appeared to have succeeded in learning the knuckler. Special teams coach Alan Lowry, who had to talk Hentrich into trying it in a game, said he thinks Kern is ready.
“It is a hard thing to do,” Kern said. “You can shank it real easy if you are not careful. I have always done the usual and when I came here, the idea of the knuckleball, Coach Lowry and Coach (Jeff) Fisher really liked it. So if I can master this and hone my skills on it, it would be great.”
This sounds amazing, and I wish more punters were capable of learning this. Imagine how much more exciting punts would be. It’s not very often that returners muff punts, but with this new kind of way to boot the ball, it could turn into a more hectic game. I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple coaches are trying to contact Hentrich now for a special teams job.
I looked online and I couldn’t find any videos of Kern in action with this knuckleball punt, but here’s a 10-minute video of him punting while he was still in college. If you find any video of knuckleball punts, please send it to me or share it in the comments.