Talk about the rebirth of a career. After making 20 of 25 field goals and 35 extra points as a senior at Illinois in 1999, Rackers was picked in the sixth round of the 2000 draft by the Bengals. But in three seasons he made only 65% of his field goal tries and had a mere 15 touchbacks and was cut in September 2003. Signed by Arizona two months later, Rackers has since connected on 83% of his field goal attempts (49 of 59) and had 44 touchbacks in 28 games.
"Not to make excuses," Rackers says, "but in Cincinnati the surface was like a kitty-litter box. The footing was terrible. Here I'm in a great comfort zone. I've got my snapper from college, Nathan Hodel [signed by Arizona in 2001]. I've got a great holder, Scott Player. And the field here is rock hard and smooth, like a golf course. It makes a 10-yard difference when the footing is so good."
Looking at the Cardinals' schedule, it's easy to see how Rackers might break the records for field goals (39) in a season. Over the last 11 weeks, 10 of Arizona's games are at home, on artificial turf or under a retractable roof. The only potentially mucky surface will be at San Francisco on Dec. 4. "I am so confident now that if I walked up to [coach] Denny Green and said, 'I want to try that 60-yard field goal,' I think he'd say, 'Go ahead,'" Rackers says. "In Cincinnati I never got comfortable. I never got confident."