2005-10-14 / Sports

New York Is A Kick To The Giants’ Feely

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – There is a misconception in football that kickers are not athletes. They can’t tackle, can’t defend or have any other skills besides booting a ball.

The Giants’ Jay Feely hopes to change that view.

“I don’t care what people write about me or what people think, I just care about competing every day,” Feely said. “I try as much as I can to squash the typical stereotype of the kicker being the non-athlete as much as I can.”

In his first three games as a Giant, the 29 year-old has shown not only he can kick – he is perfect in field goals and extra points – but can also jump into the play to save a runback, which makes him more valuable on special teams. At 5’11”, 206 lbs, he is not built like a typical kicker and it is one reason why Big Blue signed him last March.

But more than tackling, the Giants needed a more consistent kicker and with Feely, it looks like they got one. In his previous four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, the Michigan graduate had a 77.2 percent field goal percentage [98 of 127] and missed only two of 144 extra point attempts. Feely’s 436 points are the third highest in Falcons history. All in all, he gives Head Coach Tom Coughlin piece of mind when making decisions about scoring chances.

Those numbers came playing home games in the controlled environment of the George Dome and early this season, it was warm in the New York area. Feely may face more adverse conditions later this season as the cold Meadowlands winds start to whip up.

“The elements are something you just need to account for,” Feely thought. “If you think about it, it obviously can make a difference, but I played up here every year I was in Atlanta – late in the year and early in the year – and it didn’t make a difference. I like kicking in the wind.”

It’s something to look forward to come November and December, but right now Feely is happy being a part of the highest scoring offense in the league. Because of the Giants success, the kicker is able to stay in rhythm.

“Kicking extra point and a lot of opportunities gets me in the flow a lot,” the kicker said. “We will have a lot of tight games and we will have games that will mean more than beating opponents 44-24. But it’s nice to get a lot of opportunities to get in the grove.”

But the large margin of victory doesn’t make his job any easier. “You always got to go and approach a kick the same way,” he explained. “You miss a kick when you get too relaxed, so you always have to be mentally focused.” With the Big Blue offense so adept this season, Feely also gets to see the development of another star quarterback in Eli Manning, which he said is different than Michael Vick’s rise to stardom with the Falcons.

“Mike is a great athlete and a good quarterback, whereas Eli is a good athlete and a great quarterback,” Feely compared. “With Mike, I was always in awe and with Eli, I could see he was going to be a great quarterback when I came here.”

New York was a new experience for the Tampa native when he signed. Before this season, his only Metropolitan experience was between Newark Airport and the Meadowlands. But after moving into a place in Saddle River, NJ, Feely has become accustomed to the city and all it has to offer.

Including the golf courses.

“I have been golfing all over the place,” said Feely, who is a scratch golfer. “I haven’t beat yet, but I think [punter Jeff] Feagles can challenge me.”

There he goes with the kickers again.

Feely laughed, “The quarterback and the kickers are the ones that can play golf, because we’re the best athletes.”

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