Female kicker comes up short in open tryout
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It was history making, but perhaps not as historic as the NFL or its first female participant in a talent search may have envisioned. Lauren Silberman, a 28-year-old New Yorker, bowed out Sunday after two short kickoff attempts from midfield in the New York-New Jersey regional combine.
Silberman, who said her athletic resume consisted mainly of playing club soccer at the University of Wisconsin, was among approximately 40 hopefuls at the Jets' training facility in what was basically an open tryout for those not invited to the combine last month in Indianapolis.
Women have played same-gender tackle football, and there have been female kickers on college teams. The NFL announced in 2011 that women would be eligible to play in the league starting with the 2012 season.
Many of Silberman's male counterparts boomed the ball into the end zone from midfield, but her attempts were more like onside kicks, dribbling an estimated 19 and 13 yards. She never made it to the field-goal competition, ending her trial after what she said was a flare-up of a quadriceps injury.
"I've always been an athlete, always been a gamer,'' the 5-6 Silberman said. "When I had the opportunity to be in the NFL, one of the world's most competitive leagues, I absolutely had to take the chance. I know I can do a lot more, it's too bad. I have to do what's right for my body. They certainly didn't go as far as they were in practices, but I tried to work through the pain.
"The distance wasn't there; hopefully, the scouts will notice my technique. It's not always length.''
Silberman did not address how much she practiced, or how far her kicks traveled there.
"It's still hard to exactly say. I've gotten better day by day, the distance is getting there.''
The person with whom she trained, former Syracuse kicker Ricky Krautman, said Silberman's public relations agent instructed him not to discuss her workouts.
Stephen Austin, the director of NFL regional combines, said he was unaware Silberman had an injury. When asked if he thought publicity played a role in her appearance, Austin said, "I have no idea.''
Entrants paid $275 to attend the combine. There is no ability equation. "We don't want to miss anybody,'' Austin said, "so who am I to assume that any particular demographic isn't worth looking at? We treat all the applicants equally.''
Former Giants punter Sean Landeta said of Silberman: "I think it's great that she's chasing her dream. Not only has it never been done, it's never been tried. If there was ever a position that a female could do, placekicker would be the position.''
Silberman did not rule out trying again in the future. "I might be the first woman trying out for the NFL,'' she said. "I certainly hope that I'm not the last.''