Aug 192010

Eagles kicker David Akers

August 19 Philadelphia Daily News

“A QUARANTINE in Germany is a funny place to end a football career.

And believe it, David Akers and football were finished.

In his only NFL game in 1998, playing for the Redskins, he watched Seattle’s Steve Broussard take his opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. Lining up field goals from 9 yards out instead of 8, like he did in college, he had missed both attempts from 48 and 49 yards. His only onside kick gave the Seahawks great field position.

“One of the old veteran guys said, ‘They called him the Babe Ruth of kicking, and it looks like he struck out,’ ” Akers recalled recently.

Three months after his forgettable debut, having been waived by his third NFL team, Akers was picked up by the Eagles. That was on Jan. 11, 1999, the same day Andy Reid was hired as head coach. The Eagles allocated Akers to NFL Europe and soon after, he got sick, stuck in a closet-sized hospital room more than 4,000 miles away from his wife.

What he learned that week changed him forever, a time to reprioritize his life and give him strength to endure some of the cruelest curveballs yet to be thrown his way. He left Berlin a changed man.

He has been in Philadelphia since. Entering his 12th season, he is the longest-tenured professional athlete in the city, an unexpected designation for a kicker.

Change is all around the Eagles, and Akers is in the final year of his contract with an uncertain future, and mired in a potential financial jam from investments in a company now being sued by the federal government.

Philadelphia has been a blessing to me,” Akers said. “It’s been a wonderful ride. Hopefully it’ll continue past this season, but if it doesn’t I just want to thank everybody for the ride we had and the gratitude will always be there. It’s a humbling thing to think back about things you’ve been able to accomplish in the scheme of life.””

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