When it Comes to Heckles, Special Teamers Hear it All

When it Comes to Heckles, Special Teamers Hear it All

Jay Adams

Published December 14, 2011 at 10:40 AM

Little known fact: Gatorade towels provide an impenetrable forcefield that causes taunts to ricochet harmlessly into the ether

You’d be hard pressed to find a more focused individual on the Falcons sideline than kicker Matt Bryant.

His pregame ritual never changes, and it’s one that emphasizes ridiculous, pinpoint focus. He heads to the field about two-to-three hours before kickoff and goes through every possible kick he could face. He’ll pace it off, look down at where the ball would be, looks up at the uprights, looks back down and starts his motion before following through with a kick to the air in front of him.

Yet, through his 11 years, there are still fans that are more than willing to try to rattle the veteran kicker, who has been nothing but reliable and steely during his three seasons with the Falcons. Even Matt Bosher isn’t immune to the taunts and heckles.

The special teamers hang out on a part of the field that, in most cases, is closest to the front row of fans at away stadiums. That means they often catch an earful — and, in some cases, the taunts are pretty memorable.

While fans can’t break through his tough, focused facade on gameday, Bryant remembers some of the best heckles fondly. Away from the field, Bryant is as relaxed and easy-going as can be with a solid sense of humor to boot, so when the game clock hits double zeroes, Bryant finds some of the attempts entertaining.

“You want to be in the game, and a lot of guys wear ear plugs just so they don’t have to hear anything and when they’re on the field, it’s quiet,” Bryant said. “Some people are just, if you were just to jump over that wall and spend a few minutes with them, they’d never say another word again the rest of their life. Some places are worse than others. Some people are just worthless.”

But they make for a darn good story. Bryant compiled some of his favorites:

  • “Probably the best one was in Houston. I remember, I was just warming up and running around and someone goes, ‘Hey, Bryant! Where’s the other half of you?’ I thought that was pretty good, so I turned around and acknowledged it. Kudos for you.”
  • “Prior to (playing Seattle), the Chinese food delivery guy stole my golf clubs out of my garage. The whole story went viral. It was all over the place. Of all things, my golf clubs get stolen. Anyway, a guy had a sign when I came out of the tunnel (in Seattle) that said, ‘Where’s your golf clubs, little buddy?’ I was just like, ‘Are you that ignorant to take the time to write about my golf clubs on a sign?’ But, you know, whatever. Then the same guy after the game was hollering for everybody: ‘Hey, can I get your autograph?’”
  • “There’s one place that I detest more than any other place, but I can’t tell you that one. But yeah, there’s one place in particular, yeah. If I could have five minutes with the whole stadium, I could do some damage.”
  • “One good place, actually, was Philly of all places. A guy said, ‘I bet you 20 bucks you’re going to miss this one, Bryant!’ So I went out there and kicked the field goal. As I’m coming to the sideline, I’m like, (Bryant puts his hand up and rubs his fingers together), and he tried to give me the 20 bucks and I’m like, ‘Nah, I’m not going to take it.’ “
  • “I guess the traditional one is, ‘Bryant! … Bryant! … You suck!’ “

And, hanging out with Bryant on gameday, Bosher has heard his share, too:

  • “When we were at Washington, there was a guy who knew my high school, knew my college obviously and was naming classes that I was in. It was weird. He did his homework. He knew my hometown pretty good, which was pretty scary. It was hilarious, though. He was going the entire game, from start to finish.”
  • “In Tampa Bay, there’s a guy who was screaming at me. I think he was screaming at Bryant and (long snapper Josh) Harris at the same time, but he was telling me the whole time, ‘You remember me from last year? You still suck!’ He was just standing there the whole time screaming that.”
  • “Then there’s an Eagles guy, who actually followed me on Twitter and he gives a good shoutout to me about once a week on Twitter, telling me how much I suck, to remember the Philly game.”

Even rookie long snapper Josh Harris has heard a few this year:

  • “I guess there’s really only one that sticks out more than the others just because it was a little more humorous than some of them are. Most of them are, ‘Harris, you suck!’ Just the basic stuff and you don’t really pay attention to it. But there was this one guy, I can’t remember where we were at, but he said, ‘I don’t even know your first name!’ And I remember thinking, well, if he knew the nature of my position, that’s a good thing that he doesn’t know my first name.”

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