10 Questions With Justin Tucker

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1. If you weren’t an NFL kicker, what would be your profession?

“Oh man. I could go a couple different routes here. Choice 1 would be lead singer of an 80s hair rock cover band. Choice 1a would be luxury residential real estate broker, ala ‘Million Dollar Listing.’”

2. Speaking of travel, what’s your ideal vacation?

“A few years ago, for our belated honeymoon, my wife and I went to Italy. We started in Venice, went to Florence, which was amazing, then Rome and Positano. I would say going back to Italy or somewhere in the Mediterranean. To me, it’s one of the most awesome places in the world.”

3. You mention your honeymoon. You also have a 2-year-old son. How has becoming a father changed you as an NFL player?

“For the first year of Easton’s life, as an NFL player I was probably just more tired. In many ways, having a son instantly made me gain perspective that you can certainly carry onto the field, into practices and into the meeting room. But more than anything, just tired.”

4. What’s the most hyped up you’ve ever been after a kick?

“After the playoff game in Denver my rookie year, the double-overtime winner, I was pretty hyped about that one. I hit a 52-yarder in overtime to win in Pittsburgh in 2015 in primetime. That was pretty lit.”

5. What’s the inspiration for your celebrations?

“It’s kind of a combination of whatever the cool kids are doing – whatever the popular dance is at the time. But more recently I’ve gone with the spur-of-the-moment ‘Gladiator’ ‘Are you not entertained?’ thing where I just stand there with my arms out. I don’t really know why I’ve been doing that. I just have. I don’t have a good answer.”

6. How special is kicking in Pittsburgh?

“Heinz Field is definitely my favorite place to play on the road, especially when they crank up the volume on that speaker system and play ‘Renegade’ in the third, fourth quarter when they’re trying to energize the whole place. You can’t help but love being in that environment; that’s awesome. (Me: Takes you right back to your other profession.) Exactly. Lead singer of an 80s hair rock band. When we’re at Heinz Field and we have a chance to hit a big kick there, I feel like Bret Michaels in the mid-80s.”

7. What was the kick with the highest stakes?

“My rookie year, in Pittsburgh, I just missed a 41-yarder. I had an opportunity later in the game from 39, left hash, toward the open end. I remember telling myself, if I’m worth anything as a professional football player, I have to make this kick.’ That one has always stuck out for me. But realistically, the highest stakes on any kick I ever attempted was probably the 38-yarder that we made in the Super Bowl with I want to say three or four minutes left that put us up by five points and forced San Francisco to drive the length of the field in an attempt to score a touchdown instead of settling for a 30, 40, 50-yard field goal that would have won the game for them. Making that kick was one of the most important kicks of my career.”

8. What’s the hardest part of being a kicker that people don’t realize?

“I’d say there’s a lot of stuff that people don’t know that goes into making kicks in NFL games. It would be hard to pick one thing. I think that goes for everyone in here. The best players have a way of making it look easy on Sundays when we all know it’s not easy. We just make it look easy because we’re professionals. The same thing goes for kicking a ball; it’s never easy when you’re hitting a PAT or game-winner or long kick. It’s just that if you’re really good, you make it look easy.”

9. Are you superstitious?

“I’m going to borrow a quote from Michael Scott and say, ‘I’m not superstitious, but I’m a little stitious.’ I don’t believe that my superstitions are superstitions. They’re more just part of a routine or ritual than anything else. I lay my uniform out in the shape of a man on the floor before every game, just to make sure everything is there. I’ve always done that and I’m not going to stop doing it.”

10. You’re currently the most accurate kicker of all-time. How much do you think about finishing your career as the best kicker of all-time?

“I try not to think about that in those exact terms right now. And I’m going to try not to think about that while I’m still playing. I think that’s something that I’ll look back on when I’m done playing and hopefully I’ll be able to say I was the best to ever do it. For now, it’s just about making the next kick. As boring as that sounds, it’s served us well. As long as we continue to prepare and think that way, we’ll give ourselves a chance to be in that conversation when it’s all said and done.”

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