Denver Broncos kicker and the newest member of the team Connor Barth has had a really interesting 2014. After returning from a year on injured reserve due to an Achilles injury, he was met at Tampa Bay Buccaneers camp by a rookie kicker who took his job. He was inactive for the first quarter of the season before trying out for the Detroit Lions’ open kicker position along with former Broncos kicker Matt Prater, who ultimately won the job.
Then, after a week 12 debacle against Miami where he missed a 33-yard field goal, Brandon McManus was waived in Denver, opening the door for Barth to tryout yet again for a Super Bowl contender. He won the tryout battle with fellow veteran Jay Feely, and Barth will be kicking for the first time since 2012 on Sunday for the Broncos against division rival Kansas City, his first ever NFL team.
Barth’s NFL debut came in 2008 with the Chiefs, but he made a career for himself as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The most accurate kicker in team history, Barth wound up being given the franchise tag by the team. What a difference a year makes.
Going from one of the most valuable assets on a team to having to wait it out just to get a job in the league had to be tough for Barth, but he was patient and diligent, waiting his turn and now getting a shot to kick for the reigning AFC Champions and his first game in a prime time spot against the team he started his career with.
Not a bad ‘welcome back’ eh?
Barth’s return to the NFL will come as a member of the Broncos, who have a pretty impressive and rich history of NFL kickers. There’s Rich Karlis, the guy who used to kick barefoot. There’s Matt Prater, who holds the NFL record with a 64-yard kick and the highest field goal percentage from beyond 50 yards in NFL history. And then there’s team legend Jason Elam, who was the kicker in Denver during their Super Bowl seasons and has a spot in the Ring of Fame. He’s the all-time leading field goal kicker in Denver Broncos history, and his number one is synonymous with his name and the Broncos.
Barth, who has long-admired Elam, opted to wear that same number to honor one of the greatest kickers this league has known, and a player he considers a role model.
“I used to emulate my form after him,” Barth said. “He’s a legendary kicker here and it was also my high school number so I wanted to, as a kicker, do him proud and represent him because he had done such a great job for this organization. I knew it was his number and as a fellow kicker and a guy I looked up to its cool. Hopefully he is OK with me wearing his number.”
Elam Tweeted his support for Barth, and now it’s up to the new Broncos’ kicker to prove he is worthy of wearing a number that has such a rich history and tradition with this franchise.