What began as friendly competition might one day turn into NFL history.
Soccer star Carli Lloyd paid a recent visit to Eagles training camp at their NovaCare complex in Philadelphia during a joint practice with the Ravens. After practice, she tried some field goals alongside Eagles kicker Jake Elliott and Justin Tucker of the Ravens. At one point, with an Eagles social media staffer shooting an iPhone video, Lloyd nailed a 55-yard attempt through narrowed uprights. Straight down the middle, with plenty of room to spare.
The video soon went viral, and so did the idea of Lloyd becoming the first woman to play in an NFL game.
In fact, she reportedly received at least one offer to kick in a preseason game this past Thursday, although she declined to say which team(s) had contacted her.
Still, she’s intrigued by the idea.
“It’s gone from just having fun kicking to ‘will she play in the NFL?’ ’’ Lloyd said before playing in a Thursday night friendly match against Portugal as part of the women’s national soccer team’s victory tour after its World Cup championship in July.
“At first I was just laughing about it, but the more that I spoke with my husband, he’s all for it and my friends and family, they’re really encouraging me to potentially take up this opportunity.”
U.S. coach Jill Ellis believes Lloyd could do it.
“No doubt in my mind,” she told reporters. “[She could] do it technically and do it mentally.”
“Obviously, stepping on the field with all those big guys and all, but I think she’s got the steel internally and she’s got the range in her leg,” Ellis said. “I remember when I first came on the scene, I saw Carli Lloyd strike a ball and I was like, ‘Holy crap, that’s the hardest I’ve ever seen a woman hit a ball.’ So she certainly has the velocity and the technique. I think it would be very cool. I think it would be great.”
You’d better believe it would be great.
Lloyd, 37, may or may not become the first woman to play in the NFL; after all, she’s committed to playing in the Olympics next year, which means a soccer commitment through early August. But if she can convince a team that she’d be a better alternative than someone else, then go for it.
Surely, there is a faction of old-school NFL types who would be reluctant to give Lloyd a chance, citing the possibility of injury in potentially tackling a player after a blocked kick or being struck by a defender while kicking. But the bottom line for any would-be kicker is field goal accuracy, and if Lloyd can show she’s up to the task, then why not?
Hall of Fame kicker Morten Andersen would love to see it happen. He might even be part of her NFL quest if she decides to join a team. He posted a video on Twitter offering his help.
“Hey, Carli, Morten Andersen here in Atlanta,” he said. “If you want to know what it’s like to kick in the NFL for 25 years, contact me and I’d love to work with you. Go get it.”
Lloyd retweeted the message and said she might take him up on the offer.
She has received similar messages of support.
“If it’s something she really wants to do, not only will I help her out, but I hope she goes for it,” Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka told ESPN on Thursday. “I do think it’s possible to kick well in this league as a female.”
Lloyd obviously would need an intensive training regimen to make the switch from soccer to football, and time clearly isn’t on her side. She’ll be 38 next season, and if she plays in the Olympics, she’d arrive late to her first NFL training camp.
But she’s not closing the door. If anything, she’s swinging it wide open.
After scoring a goal in Thursday’s 4-0 win over Portugal, Lloyd — an Eagles fan who grew up in the Philadelphia suburb of Delran, New Jersey — celebrated by flapping her arms in a “Fly, Eagles Fly” celebration. She then raised her arms as an NFL referee would in signaling that a field goal is good.
“I’m taking it day by day,” she said after the game. “First and foremost, I’m a soccer player. I want to hopefully continue on through the Olympics. We’ll see what happens, but anything is possible in life, I guess.”
Here’s hoping one possibility will find Lloyd trying to kick in the NFL.
As Andersen says, go get it.