San Diego Chargers Week 1: The Legend of Mike Scifres

Davis WaddellContributor IISeptember 13, 2011

DENVER - SEPTEMBER 14:  Punter Mike Scifres #5 of the San Diego Chargers kicks from his own endzone against the Denver Broncos during NFL action at Invesco Field at Mile High on September 14, 2008 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Chargers 39-38.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

What can't Mike Scifres do?

When Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding tore his ACL trying to chase down a streaking Percy Harvin on the opening kickoff of Sunday's matchup with the Vikings, San Diego fans were cursing the man who decided to make special teams a part of football.

After all, the Chargers' special teams unit was perhaps the worst in NFL history last year, when they had both the best offense and the best defense in the NFL, yet wound up missing the playoffs.

Who could have known that the answer to their problems was already standing on the sideline?

Mike Scifres, the Chargers All-Pro punter, made all four of his kicks in Kaeding's absence, including a game-tying 40-yard FG with ten minutes left in the game (with room to spare, I might add).

In a league where 310 pound Ndamukong Suh and soccer wannabe Chad Ochocinco have missed PATs in recent years, Scifres's game on Sunday is nothing to bristle at.

Dig a little deeper, though, and you'll begin to uncover the legend of Mike Scifres.

He's a player who's full of surprises. The only player in the NFL who wears braces, he shattered all sorts of NCAA records at Western Illinois by once booting an 89-yard punt. 

As a senior at Western Illinois, he kicked a game-winning 56-yard FG in the last minute after their starting kicker had gone down.

It was his first career FG attempt. Call him Captain Clutch. 

His punting during the Chargers' 2009 playoff game against the Colts is also stuff of legend. In that game, he punted six times at an astounding average of 51.7 yards per punt.

Clutch as always, he saved his best punts for last.

After stopping his first punt of the fourth quarter at the Colts' one yard line, with two minutes left he booted a 52-yard punt from San Diego territory that bounced out of bounds at the Colts one yard line.

The Colts went three and out and were forced to punt out of their own end zone. The Chargers took advantage of fantastic field position (the Colts' 38) and kicked the game-tying FG to force overtime, where they eventually prevailed.

Should the Chargers make Mike Scifres their starting kicker? I don't see why not. He obviously has the leg to make 50 yard field goals, and he possesses the crunch time intangibles that separate good kickers from great ones.

If I were the Chargers special teams coach, I'd at least give him a shot. After all, over the past 17 games, he's the only player on the special teams unit who has pulled his weight.

And if I know anything about Mike Scifres, it's that he might just surprise you.