Rivals work togetherWritten by Ryan Fowler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Freddie and Frieda stared at each other from across the dinner table, but the awkward silence was deafening.
Rocky looked as if he was going to say something, but instead bit his bottom lip. After a brief sigh, Freddie dropped his head and spoke.
“How did this happen?” he said with his wings on his head. “Falcons and Rockets as friends? Everything I thought I knew is a lie.”
Rocky slowly sat up, excused himself from the table and proceeded to walk out the house. Before he closed the front door, he quipped, “You can keep the peace pipe.”
It’s true we live in a time where things are changing at a rapid rate. Everything from the president, gas prices, 401(k), and now former Bowling Green and Toledo football players are sharing laughs and getting along.
“Ya, we’re good friends,” said former BGSU center Kory Lichtensteiger. “His wife and my wife are hitting it off. I couldn’t ask for a better friend on the team than Brett. It’s worked out well.”
After successful college careers, Lichtensteiger and Toledo punter Brett Kern graduated to play for the Denver Broncos. The former Falcon comes off the bench to play guard in goal line situations, while Kern earned the role of starting punter for the American Football Conference West Division leaders.
“It’s beautiful,” Kern said of the Mile High City. “I wake up every morning and see the mountains. It’s gorgeous; they get 300 some days of sunshine per year. I can’t complain.”
I can remember talking to Kern in the days leading up to the 2008 NFL Draft in April. He told me he was not going to pay attention, and if his agent called then that would be great. Well, he didn’t call … until after the final pick was announced. Kern signed as a free agent with the Broncos and made the most of his opportunity.
“This is what I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little kid,” Kern said. “I thank God every day that I’m a punter in the NFL.”
The road to Denver was just as challenging for Lichtensteiger. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound beast of a man had to fight through an off-season shoulder surgery prior to the draft. He was worried his stock may drop when teams saw that he was coming into the league banged up.
But Denver was convinced he could help the team and selected him in the fourth round (108 pick overall), but Lichtensteiger’s introduction to the NFL was anything but a smooth transition.
“I had a rough [training camp],” Lichtensteiger said. “It was quite an adjustment playing guard from playing center so long in college.”
Besides learning a new position in the pros, this former Falcon is adjusting to this brand of football being a business and not an individual’s passion.
Kern is on pace to average the second highest gross average per punt (46.7 yards/punt) in Broncos team history. Not bad considering he’s still competing against the best athletes in the world at the top level of his sport and the cliché remains as to what the biggest difference is between college and pro football.
“It’s definitely the speed,” Kern said. “It’s a lot quicker, a lot faster.”
“The speed and tempo, no doubt,” Lichtensteiger said.
Denver currently sits atop the AFC West at 6-5 and is in position to make the playoffs. So, in addition to five more games, the Broncos could play at least six more games. As a rookie new to the demanding schedule, Lichtensteiger says he’s ready for winter break.
“I feel like I should be heading to a bowl game and done for the season,” Lichtensteiger said.
Ryan Fowler is the weekend sports anchor at NBC 24 and can be reached at email@example.com.