Players, fans, and media tend to look down on kickers, but they’re specialists who do a job unlike anyone else’s on a football team. Kickers are one of the few positions significantly affected by the different NFL arenas. These are three of the worst and three of the best NFL stadiums for kickers.
The worst NFL stadiums for kickers
Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland Raiders
This will be the Raiders’ last season in Oakland. It’s hard to know the quality of the team’s kicking surface in Las Vegas. But one reason it’s so difficult to kick at Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum is because a lot of the field is covered in dirt. The Raiders share a stadium with the Oakland Athletics. At times, this forces kickers to kick off an unfamiliar surface.
Lambeau Field, Green Bay Packers
They don’t call it the “icy tundra” for nothing. The cold climate is a huge factor when it comes to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Consider former New York Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes. In the 2008 NFC championship game, Tynes kicked a 47-yard field goal to send the Giants to the Super Bowl. What you may not recall? He did it in negative 23-degree temperatures and had missed two attempts prior. Here’s how Tynes remembers the frigid Wisconsin weather, according to Giants.com:
“There were a lot of challenging things that day and the weather was probably No. 1. You just have to understand that it is going to be difficult. The tough part for us was I don’t think we did more than six warm-up field goals because (holder) Jeff (Feagles’) hands were so frozen that he couldn’t catch the snap … Those were definitely the most difficult conditions that I have ever played in, and for the most part that anyone has ever played in.”
Soldier Field, Chicago Bears
Another stadium of kickers’ nightmares? Chicago’s Soldier Field, home of the Bears. Much like Green Bay, the unforgiving cold does no one favors. But the conditions of the field itself are treacherous, too. It’s been called one of the worst NFL fields. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that it sometimes has to be re-sodded two to three times a season.
The best NFL stadiums for kickers
Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta Falcons
For years, the Atlanta Falcons played in the Georgia Dome. However, the team has called Mercedes-Benz Stadium home since 2016. A big part of why it’s favorable for kickers? The retractable roof, which ensures that wind and other weather conditions won’t have the same impact as a stadium exposed to the elements.
MetLife Stadium, New York Giants
While New Jersey winds can be rough on kickers, the home of the Giants and Jets can be easier when they figure out the stadium’s predictable wind patterns. To decide how to adjust punts, Giants kicker Steve Weatherford made sure to test those wind changes prior to games. Jets kicker Nick Folk would walk the field to see how the wind would affect kicks.
The Superdome, New Orleans Saints
Kicking indoors is typically easier than kicking outdoors because weather variables are removed. In New Orleans, unlike Atlanta’s stadium with a retractable roof, those variables are completely removed. The Superdome roof is permanently fixed, meaning no wind, rain or snow will impact either team’s kickers.