With all due respect to Seattle MVP candidate Shaun Alexander’s achievement of 28 regular season TD’s, I was pleased yesterday to see Fox, CBS, ESPN and (inexplicably, Logo) all cut away from their regular programming to show Arizona kicker Neil Rackers breaking the NFL record of 39 field goals. Rackers’ 40th, a 42 yarder in yesterday’s 17-13 loss to the Colts, will naturally set off a nationwide debate over whether or not the Cardinal’s mark is deserving of an asterix, sock technology having improved dramatically since Olindo Mare and Jeff Wilkins kicked 39 field goals in 1999 and 2003 respectively.
Since we’re talking about one of sport’s most magical numbers —– other than DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak or Warren Sapp’s 37 days without mouthwash is any number more universally recognized? — I’m sure the discussions will be filled with emotion and angry rhetoric. But I think we should give Rackers his due respect — the kicking game has changed greatly since 2004, Rackers having to face the sort of circumstances that could only have been imagined back in Mare or Wilkins’ days.