TAMPA — What’s the line? If you had an infinite number of chimpanzees typing on an infinite number of keyboards, they’d eventually produce all the world’s great music.
Speaking of which, the Bucs now have a dedicated kicking coach, their first. There aren’t that many of those in the NFL.
His name is Chris Boniol and he is the new Bucs “specialists” coach. He kicked in the NFL for six seasons for three different teams before he retired in 1999, or was retired, as it were. Ah, the life of a kicker. Boniol has been there, done that, made that, missed that.
He joins Bruce Arians’ massive staff, a truly enlightened unit, color blind, gender blind and now specialty blind. Roberto Aguayo and the sons of Aguayo, all of them, will do that to a football franchise. Tampa Bay has become the place where field goal kickers go to die.
Shouldn’t the Bucs be bringing in a psychiatrist instead of a coach? Then again, didn’t Aguayo, our friend the 2016 draft reach, have a “mental coach” at one point? Bet that dude is now wearing a strait jacket.
The Bucs clearly need help, and who knows if fifth-round draft pick Matt Gay, who’ll compete with returning kicker Cairo Santos and who is one more Jason Licht brass-ring grab, is the answer. So, the Bucs are doubling down with Boniol.
“I’m aware it’s been a tough few years in the kicking department for whatever reason,” Boniol said. “That’s what we’re here to do and try and get better with, through competition, through practice habits, whatever we have to do.
“I’ve been around a long time, just like many of these coaches have been around football and their positions for a long time. That’s part of being the resource that I am here in Tampa. Helping them be in front of things, prevent fires before you have to put out fires.”
Boniol, 47, has lived the kicker’s life. Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Louisiana Tech in 1994, he was part of a Super Bowl winner and became the first Dallas Cowboys kicker to have three consecutive 100-point seasons. He had a run of 27 consecutive field goals made and another of 26.
He signed as a restricted free agent in Philadelphia in 1997 but lasted only two seasons because of long-distance inefficiency. Boniol joined the Chicago Bears in 1999, but was waived after missing four of nine field-goal attempts, including a possible OT game-winner. Repeating: all the lives.
Boniol knows peaks, he knows valleys. He has put out fires, he has been consumed by them.
He was asked about the looming competition between Santos and Gay. Montana-Young it isn’t.
“Cairo is a pro and he’s a tough kid and he’s a competitor,” Boniol said. “I have no doubt he’s going to show up and do his work and compete the best he can. It’ll be a very interesting competition between the two.”
He turned to Gay, who last kicked for Utah.
“You talk about things snowballing and getting out of control. Looking at Matt, Matt had a tough game early in the year, missed one, had one blocked,” Boniol said. “Then he went on to make 21 straight. How you respond to adversity, how you respond to a bad game, is a big deal.”
The good thing is that the new head coach is also in tune with the kickers’ life and importance. Bruce Arians has sat across the dinner table from it. Arians’ son, Jake, kicked in the NFL , but was released by Buffalo before the end of the 2001 season after missed attempts. Boniol thinks Bruce Arians would get it regardless.
“I think him being a head coach in the National Football League makes him very attentive to that position and the impact that it has on a game,” Boniol said. “He’s got a son who was a kicker. One of my sons (Garin) is a kicker. We can talk a little shop about being the dad of a kicker.”
A kicker working with kickers. A fresh slant.
“It’s a unique personality most of the time,” Boniol said. “There are exceptions and outliers, but most of the time you have to be a person who doesn’t mind working alone. You’re very focused. My wife tells me all the time, ‘You just don’t hear me.” And I don’t. You get locked in on what you’re doing and everything else goes away.”
Good thing. It’s a tough job, being a Bucs kickers coach.
Chris Boniol is elected: head of fire prevention.
Contact Martin Fennelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 731-8029. Follow @mjfennelly