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Peter King
October 09, 1989
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October 09, 1989

The Nfl

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Bugel insists that holding is inevitable: "When you've got an average guy going against a great guy, the great guy has got to expect to be held. You're going to get held every play in the NFL. If you can't accept that, you're not going to make it here."

Some veteran NFL observers, including Houston general manager Mike Holovak and Giants general manager George Young, maintain that holding is no worse than it has ever been. Art McNally, the NFL's supervisor of officials, acknowledges that officials sometimes miss holds, but he also argues that the rules are often misunderstood. Quick grabs are legal. Restricting the defensive player by hugging or tackling or hanging on to the jersey isn't. "The key is. Do you restrict?" says McNally. "I'm telling you, if the official can see it, he'll call it. If we see it on film and the official hasn't seen it, he's graded down. If an official is continually graded down, that affects whether he gets a playoff game, and he could, very quietly, be out of the league after the season. But we have seven men looking at 22, and they're not going to see everything."

Still, players on both sides of the line say they're not sure what to expect from week to week. Bengal center Bruce Kozerski says, "The way it is now, you've got to spend the first quarter not only feeling out the defense but the officials, too. Maybe the solution is to send the full crews to training camps for a week to work with the teams and show them how the rules are going to be called. I just know they've got to do something."


In 1981, a soccer player named Donald Igwebuike, a walk-on with the Clemson football team, made a 52-yard field goal on the first offensive series of his first college game. Igwebuike went on to kick for four seasons for the Tigers, and then, in 1985, he was succeeded by another soccer player-walk-on, named David Treadwell, who made a 36-yard field goal to win his first college game. Tread-well played three seasons for the Tigers. Today he's with Denver and Igwebuike is with Tampa Bay, and they're the top performers in SI's new kicker efficiency rating (box, page 100). "It's an honor to be up there, especially with my old Clemson buddy," says Treadwell.

Igwebuike (pronounced Ig-way-BWEE-kay) was born and raised in Nigeria. A boyhood friend, Obed Arid, who kicked for Clemson from 1977 through '80, persuaded Igwebuike to succeed him. "At first, I hated football," says Igwebuike. "When it came on TV, I'd change channels. But then came that 52-yard field goal. I said to myself. Hey, I might like this sport."

The Bucs drafted Igwebuike in the 10th round in 1985, and since then he has struggled to put points on the board—he has yet to score 100 in a season—because the Bucs' offense has rarely put him in position to attempt field goals. Igwebuike has a .738 career success rate on all field goals and is a perfect 31 for 31 from inside the 35-yard line. He has made seven of his eight field goal attempts this year, including a 52-yarder, despite having a new snapper (Sam Anno) and a new holder (Chris Mohr). "One thing people don't realize is that kickers contribute about 50 percent to the points," says Igwebuike. "The snapper and holder do the rest."

Treadwell, who's from Jacksonville, was Clem-son's fourth-string kicker in 1984. He won the starting job when Igwebuike left, and he became an All-America in '87, though he wasn't drafted. This summer the Broncos gave him the chance to replace Rich Karlis, one of their most popular players. "I couldn't think about that," Treadwell says. "I just had to let my kicking do the talking for me." It has been eloquent so far.

Cardinals owner Bill Bid-will is feeling the effect of the Cards' $38.56 average ticket price last year. Season-ticket sales in Phoenix fell from 55,000 in 1988 to 36,928 this year.


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