The NFL’s newest punters debate the puntability of a wide array of items.
Only three punters got invitations to the NFL Combine. I engaged them in a conversation about how far they’d be able to punt various non-football objects.
The request I had of Utah’s Mitch Wishnowsky, Stanford’s Jake Bailey, and Rice’s Jack Fox: rank a list of 14 objects by how far you could punt them.
The list of objects they ranked by puntability: a cabbage, a hockey puck, a ball of yarn, a soccer ball, a burrito, a Hershey bar, a balloon, an actual football, a laptop, a feather, Kirby from Super Smash Bros. (as opposed to another version of Kirby, such as Kirby’s Adventure Kirby or Kirby’s Dream Land Kirby), a knit cap, a piece of paper, and a loaf of bread.
Stay tuned for a detailed discussion below. The players ranked the objects 1-14, with 1 being the object they could punt the farthest. Full results:
There was general agreement on most objects, but some created less consensus.
T-1: a football
The punters, who each averaged more than 44 yards per punt in 2018 (not counting the roughly 10 yards of backfield they punt over every time), were confident they could punt the pigskin a greater distance than most of the non-ball objects featured here.
T-1: Kirby from Super Smash Bros.
“If you’ve ever seen Smash Bros., when they get knocked off, he goes flying,” Fox explained. “I don’t know if he’s too dense.”
The thing about punting Kirby from Smash Bros. is that he can inflate himself several times and get extra loft as he’s soaring through the air. That adds to his puntability.
“This is all based upon how far you think Kirby’s actually gonna go if you smash him?” Bailey asked.
“I’ve played Smash Bros,” Fox replied. “I know how far he’s gonna go.”
3. a soccer ball
4. a balloon, inflated with helium
“The balloon is full of helium,” Fox said. “If you punt it, it’s gonna go up, and the wind’s gonna take it. It could take it like 15 miles that way.”
The balloon is only down this low because, as Wishnowsky ranked the objects, your correspondent did not make clear to him the balloon was helium-inflated.
“I mean, you can hit it hard, but I don’t think it’s gonna travel very far,” said the winner of the Ray Guy Award given to college football’s top punter.
Really? I asked.
“A balloon? Like just a balloon? It’ll only go, like, a couple yards.”
I regret the lack of clarity and the chaos it caused.
5. a cabbage
T-6. a burrito
“I feel like a cabbage would be really satisfying to kick,” Fox said. “I feel like it might fall apart a little bit. That would be my number one, like, if I had a satisfaction thing. I would love to break it, so it gets a higher grade from me.”
“Cabbage is definitely satisfying to punt,” Bailey agreed.
But, gentlemen, we’re not here to rank by satisfaction. We’re here to rank by distance.
“I would ask for a burrito that’s really tightly wrapped. And I think I could get that farther than a cabbage,” Bailey said.
“At Chipotle, it’s not tightly wrapped,” Fox retorted.
“I’m not basing it off of Chipotle, though,” Bailey shot back. “I was just gonna go San Diego, nice burrito, that you ask for it to be tightly double-wrapped.”
T-6. a loaf of bread
Bailey did not think it would be easy to punt a loaf of bread even 15 yards.
T-8: a hockey puck
“Least satisfying might be hockey puck,” Bailey said, because it would hurt.
T-8: a ball of yarn
The punters might have been concerned about the yarn unfurling on impact, which would certainly keep it from getting the flightpath of, say, a well-put-together cabbage.
10. a Hershey’s chocolate bar
11. a laptop
“I think I could get a laptop a good, probably, 15 yards at most from where I’m standing,” Bailey said.
“You can kick a laptop 15 yards?” Fox asked him.
“If I kick the heck out of it, probably,” Bailey told him. “I don’t know. Loaf of bread might go farther. It’s a tossup.”
12. a knit cap
13. a piece of paper
14. a feather
There was universal agreement that these are not puntable entities.
Looking for more in the “specialists rank objects by how hard they’d be to do football things with” department?
Please see the first installment in the series from the 2018 combine: The only long snapper at the NFL Combine ranks 14 items by how difficult they’d be to long snap.