In surprisingly unsurprising news, on Tuesday, the New Orleans Saints waived longtime kicker Garrett Hartley. His heroics in the 2009 postseason could no longer carry the weight of his debilitating misses this season. In fact, the Saints have struggled with his inconsistencies for the better part of five seasons now. It all came to a head on Sunday with his two misses, indoors, against the sub .500 St. Louis Rams.
Here's a look at Garrett Hartley's stats this season:
|2013 - Garrett Hartley||14||2 - 2||5 - 6||5 - 8||9 - 13||1 - 1||22||30||70.0%||41||41||100.0%||107|
These stats alone are enough to warrant his waiving, but it actually could have been a tougher decision to make than it was. Thankfully, the Saints ignored two factors that get coaches and GMs fired in sports: hope and nostalgia. Clearly, the Saints had hoped Garrett Hartley would work out as the steady, career-long kicker he should have been. They stuck with his inconsistencies and injuries for his entire career. They even kept Hartley in-house while having John Carney, John Kasay, and recently, Jose Maltos on the roster. In the end, Hartley outlasted them all.
As for nostalgia, it's obvious, Garrett Hartley kicked the Saints into the Super Bowl, and with all of the pressure upon him in that moment, he kicked the truest, most confident kick you may ever see. The Super Bowl, no problem, all he did was set Super Bowl records that night. On the stage that has suffocated some kickers, Hartley not only rose to the occasion, he exceeded expectations. But to judge the future of the franchises' most underrated position against past accomplishments, no matter how great, would be foolhardy. Hartley left too many points off the board, and that is what this decision needed to be based upon.
His name alone invokes widely varying emotions throughout Who Dat Nation. Few players in Saints history have been directly responsible for the as many unforgettable moments as Hartley, both joyous and painful. As much as we'll all remember the horrific misses against Tampa in '09 and Atlanta in '10, for me, those memories will fade into the background and I'll always first remember his two consecutive, remarkable Championship performances. Despite the struggles, Garrett Hartley has more than earned my respect, and gratitude. Thank you #5.
You may have been a Fat Punk Kicker, but you'll always be our Fat Punk Kicker.
We'll always have "The Kick."