by Alphonso Mitchell aka DarkLotus

When you think of an NFL kicker, what are the first words that enter your mind? Usually it’s “wide right” or “HE MISSED IT!!!” Many fans quake in fear when their teams’ chances come down to the leg of their kicker. Furious prayers are made to the football Gods, asking for a good hold and no wind. But not me. You see, I am a Tennessee Titans fan; our kicker, and my favorite player, is a guy named Rob Bironas, one of the most accurate and quite possibly THE most clutch kicker in the game. Rob Bironas has missed but ONE game winning kick during his five years of service for the Titans and has compiled a career 84.5% of field goals made, going 136 for 161 with a long of 60. He has yet to miss more than six field goals in a season and only has had two blocked in his career. These stats by are impressive enough by themselves, but then take into effect October 21, 2007 versus the Houston Texans. Rob made NFL history by becoming the first kicker to make eight field goals in a game. He made field goals of 52, 25, 21, 30, 28, 43, 29 and 29 again, a game winner as time expired.

Rob is my favorite player because he is an excellent kicker and his father is his hero, as is mine. He said about his father once, “He is the guy I look up to, the guy I hope to be like one day. He has succeeded in life in spite of where he started. He is a man of principle and truth; and has supported me every step of the way. My Dad is my true hero and I can’t thank him enough for believing in me.”

Rob spent time in the camps of the Packers, Buccaneers and Steelers trying to make his NFL dream come true. He kicked for the Charleston Swamp Foxes in AFL2 and the New York Dragons in the AFL, and was working at his father’s building automation business in Louisville, while kicking footballs on his lunch breaks. Rob was signed by the Tennessee Titans during training camp of the 2005 season. His first game kicking for the Titans was against the San Francisco 49ers in preseason, which also happened to be my first NFL game. He made both of his kicks, one FG and one XP. The Titans had a chance to win the game on a last second field goal. Rob Bironas was competing against another kicker for the job and was sitting on the bench when the game winning try was missed. The Titans went on to lose the game on an OT field goal by ex Titans kicker Joe Nedney.

There are not many Rob Bironas cards on the market, but I have been able to procure a few. My five favorite Bironas cards are as follows in order:

5.) 2008 Topps Own The Game #OTGRB. This card made the list because it is his first and only “insert,” and the stats on the reverse of the card are those of a quarterback and not a kicker.

4.) 2008 Topps Base Card #283. This is the first card released that features Rob Bironas solo. His other NFL cards before had him paired with two other special teams players.

3.) 2006 Upper Deck AFL #140. This is his first official card from when he was a member of the New York Dragons in the Arena Football League.

2.) 2008 Bowman Sterling #84. This is the first and ONLY Rob Bironas card that includes a piece of authentic player worn memorabilia AND there are seven different versions to collect.

AND…
1.) 2006 Topps Total Rob Bironas/Lamont Thompson/Craig Hentrich #152. This is Bironas’ FIRST official NFL card and is widely recognized as his “Rookie Card.”

I have at least one version of EVERY card listed and at least one of every card Rob Bironas has available including 2x 2006 UD AFL Silver /100, a 2008 Bowman Sterling Gold Refractor Jersey /25 and a 2008 Topps Black /57. The only thing missing from my Bironas collection is a 1/1 printing plate, but I have been looking for one and feel confident I will eventually add one or more to my collection. My favorite by far though, is a 2006 Topps Total card that Rob signed through the mail for me. To make it even better I received the card back on my 27th birthday, making it the best birthday present I got that year. I sincerely hope that Rob has a very long and accurate career kicking for the Titans and that there are many more cards featuring this under-appreciated player in future products.