Now, the franchise could garner even more popularity—and controversy—by bringing aboard a Norwegian trick-shot kicker named Havard Rugland.
The 27-year-old became a YouTube sensation shortly after uploading his American football compilation, “Kickalicious”, back on Sept. 16 of this year.
This video, in which Rugland nails ridiculously long field goals and hits other skillful shots, has well over a million views and caught the attention of NFL teams.
According to Reuters (h/t Pro Football Talk), Gang Green recently decided to give the Internet sensation a shot. It was an apparent success, according to Rugland’s own words:
"'It went well,'" Rugland told Norwegian TV station NRK. "'They tested me on field goals and kickoffs. Obviously you feel a little more pressure here, but I stayed pretty calm.'"
Rugland is working with Michael Husted, a kicking coach, who truly believes the young man has the stuff to be more than an online gimmick. The coach spoke extremely highly of his pupil (as per Reuters):
"Havard has incredible talent as a kicker [...]. He has a cannon for a leg. As he continues to refine his technique, he could be one of the strongest kickers in the NFL."
He went on to compare his client to Sebastian Janikowski, the Oakland Raiders famous placekicker. While it’s fair from a physical standpoint, we just don’t know if Rugland has the experience to kick in the NFL.
As you can see in the video, Rugland certainly has the chops to make field goals out in an empty field, but it’s up for the Jets brass to determine if he could make one in uniform, in front of tens of thousands of people with the pressure ratcheted up.
All of those long-range bomb and crazy accurate trick kicks won't help when the team is down by two points and Rugland is lining up to kick a 45-yarder that could mean the difference between making the playoffs or going home; advancing in the postseason or leaving disgraced; winning the Super Bowl or having to live with the shame of losing.
That’s the true test of a successful kicker, and it’s certainly worth the Jets' while to find out if Rugland has the intestinal fortitude to match his innate ability.