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Q&A: Iowa City native, former Iowa kicker Nate Kaeding retires from NFL

BY JOSH BOLANDER | MAY 03, 2013 5:00 AM

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Iowa City native Nate Kaeding played football for Iowa from 2000-2003 and soon became one of the nation’s elite place kickers. He won the 2002 Lou Groza Award, given to the country’s top kicker, and earned All-American honors in 2003. San Diego drafted him in the third round of the 2004 NFL draft, and he spent most of his nine-year NFL career as a Charger. Kaeding was voted to the 2006 and 2009 Pro Bowls, was named to the NFL All-Pro team in 2009, and is the fourth most accurate kicker in NFL history. He announced his retirement from the game on Thursday.

The Daily Iowan caught up with Kaeding and asked about why he decided to put an end to his NFL career.

DI: When did you first start thinking it might be time to retire?

Kaeding: It has just been a cumulative effect of all the injuries. I took a step back at the start of this off-season and really just tried to get a good game plan going forward in terms of trying to address some of these issues. I felt like I had a good handle on it until I started kicking again this week and some of these same muscle issues popped back up. I met with some more doctors, chatted, and just felt like it was time to move on. My body just wasn’t cooperating anymore, and unfortunately, that’s a thing you can’t really control. When the body gives up, it gives up.

DI: Did you speak to the Buccaneers’ organization and head coach Greg Schiano about your decision?

Kaeding: We let them know early this morning, and they definitely understood. They knew my injury past, and they were hoping that was behind me, and it wasn’t going to pop back up, but these coaches and personnel folks in the NFL have seen pretty much everything. They were understanding of it and supportive.

DI: Do you still want to be around football? Is coming back as a coach something you might be interested in?

Kaeding: I do. I have a really good relationship with the place kickers and punters at Iowa. They helped me quite a bit, actually, keeping me young and excited about the game. I’ve worked with [Iowa kicker] Mike Meyer the last three years, and there are guys I’ve known there for a long time. If they still want me to help them and be around this spring and summer in preparation for this season, I would really enjoy that.  I have plenty of insight to offer on how to improve and prepare for the season. I am extremely close with pretty much everybody on the Iowa football staff.  The game has given me everything, and I feel like I have acquired quite a bit of wisdom along the way, and I look forward to relaying that back to the players working their way through right now.

DI: What is the biggest thing you will take away from your professional career?

Kaeding: The importance of perspective. You sit up there at the top of the stands and see a guy kick field goals, and it always looks so easy. But being in the middle of it and knowing all the preparation that goes into it and how hard it really is under different conditions gave me great perspective just on life in general. Everyone, regardless of what they do for a living, has a unique set of talents. Football has given me a great overall general outlook on life and that’s come through the ups and downs of being a professional athlete, especially as a kicker, where there is no gray area. It’s black or white. You make or miss. I certainly feel like a better person after being a college and professional kicker.  I have taken a lot of valuable lessons away from it.


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