After Years of Neglect, Kick-Holders Honored in First Award Ceremony

HOXIE, Arkansas.  Even when he was a baby, says Ethel Tipton, she knew her son Tyler was going to be something special when he grew up.  “Other children would drop their pacifiers and their blankets,” she says with an affectionate smile.  “Not my little Ty-ty!”

Mike “Ironfinger” Podulski


That prediction may turn out to be more than just a mother’s sentimental favoritism for her child next weekend, as Tyler Tipton–now a 21-year-old member of the Oklahoma A&M Fighting Stinkbugs football team–was named a finalist for the first-ever award to be given to a college football placekick holder next Saturday night in New York.

“Everything’s got to be just right.”


“Placekick holders have been slighted–until now,” says Oren Maister, Jr., a former placekick holder at Central East Southern Mississippi who held the record for consecutive placekicks held without a miscue from 1962 until 2001, when A.J. “Stickyfingers” Hershel passed him with an assist on an extra point try against Northern Michigan State Junior College University.  “When the glamour boys are done passing and running the ball down the field for a touchdown, somebody’s got to do the dirty work of actually holding the ball on the ground, and that’s where your ‘PK holder’ comes in.”

Ted “The Claw” Fulson


In American football a “placekick holder” receives a snap from center and holds an inflated pigskin on the ground while a “kicker” swings his leg at the ball in a try for a “field goal,” an “extra point,” and in extreme weather conditions such as a cross-wind, a “kick off” to the opposing team.  “It’s really the best job on the field,” says retired holder Amos “Vise Grip” Matthews.  “Everybody else does the hard work, and then you come on the field for the score, like the CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation.”

College football awards have proliferated in recent years, prompting some to object that the practice has cheapened the value of post-season accolades such as the Heisman Trophy, the granddaddy of the genre.  “It’s a case of Gresham’s Law applied to the gridiron,” says retired sportswriter Bill Julings, Jr., referring to the economic principle that bad money drives out good.  “Do we really need to honor the best back-up quarterback for holding a clipboard on the sideline?  I don’t think so, and neither should you.”

Erroll “Irongrip” Matson


Placekick holders are overwhelmingly white, causing some to claim that the new award–the Oren Maister, Jr. Trophy–is a sop to older football fans who dislike seeing minorities win a disproportionate share of post-season honors.  “For other awards you actually have to run or throw or catch something,” says Ismail Bentley, a columnist for  “Placekick holders basically have the motor skills and eye-hand coordination of a grocery store stock boy.”  When reminded that Super Bowl MVP and Football Hall of Fame inductee Kurt Warner worked as a night stock boy before playing in the NFL, Bentley replied “Yeah, but he got to throw paper towels.”

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