"There is no reason why a woman could not do this."
But the NFL needs to do it right.
As a two-time World Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, professional soccer powerhouse Carli Lloyd has always thrived under bright lights, thousands of screaming fans, and the pressure to win it all. So when she kicked a 55-yard field goal after a joint Eagles-Ravens practice on Aug. 20, let's be honest, it was light-work. Her viral video prompted calls from multiple NFL teams, including one that invited the USWNT star to play in their final preseason game.
But if we're going to make these kinds of strides in the landscape of leveling the playing field for women, do it justice. So let's start from the top:
First of all, Lloyd has no plans to enter the NFL, at least not just yet. But she is giving 2020 serious thought, her long-time coach and trainer James Galanis told ESPN.
Check out her resume and you will realize she deserves an opportunity.
The 37-year-old has made her career out of, well, kicking. Kicking with accuracy through a goal post? That's just having fun on any given day after soccer practice or in her backyard.
"I could kick field goals all day long. I absolutely love it," Lloyd told NBS Sports' Peter King in an interview posted to King's "Football Morning in America" column. "I love kicking long balls in soccer, and it carries over to football. The technique is the same, and I think I'm very accurate."
The fact it's taken a heavily decorated member of a world championship squad to start the conversation on whether women should be allowed to try out as an NFL kicker, is a sad testament to the patriarch-driven sports world, especially the NFL, but what else is new. What's left to be said is when that "pivotal moment," as Lloyd described, will happen.
Any opportunity Lloyd, or any other woman (several have kicked at the collegiate level), has received or will receive in the future, has to be the real deal. Not some publicity stunt in a single preseason game. If it's not going to be done the right way, don't do it at all. Give her a full offseason of training, complete with workouts at both voluntary and mandatory OTAs and all the preseason games. Not an invitation to watch practice and have some fun kicking field goals for whoever wants to watch. Give them the chance to actually do it right, just like you would any other man trying to earn a roster spot. Even Lloyd said she knew she could "do it and do it well."
Of course there's the added risk of Lloyd and other women staring down your average 300-plus pound lineman, but really that's a risk that needs to be taken as long as you're willing. There's no telling unless you try, but also, let's go back to training and proper preparation. Again, if you're going to open the door, do it right. It's something Lloyd has obviously thought of as well:
"Big thing would be getting used to the big boys out there. But nothing scares me. You hold yourself back if you're afraid," Lloyd said. "What's the worst that can happen? I don't make the team? Let's just say I did try. Maybe I change the landscape a lot."
Lloyd once scored a hat trick in the biggest game of her life, so there's absolutely no reason why she couldn't "put on the helmet, strap on the pads, go for it."
The only thing that's kept women from playing professional football are the men who say they can't and would rather eat dirt before they made such a move. It's why the question, after thousands watched the clip, switched from "can she do it?" to "well, can she handle the pressure?" It's redundant. She's literally thrived at the highest level of sports competition. She won, not just in the name of one team playing for one city, but in the name of the United States of America.
If you really want to talk about kickers handling pressure, might I remind you of kickers past and present who've cost their teams playoff games - like the Jets' Doug Brien in '05 against the Steelers (twice!) or the Seahawks' Blair Walsh in '16 against the Vikings - or worse even, a Super Bowl title - like the Bills' Scott Norwood in 1991 against the Giants.
And of course, Cody Parker's infamous "double doink" miss for the Bears in January.
It's 2019 and at this point it's old-school thinking for the naysayers who doubt women can put points on a scoreboard for an NFL team, but being a kicker is just scratching the surface. How many kickers can you name outside of the team you root for? Sorry not sorry, but kickers just aren't as widely regarded in the public eye until they miss, then they're a topic of scrutiny. You can name quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs, even some linesman, but kickers?
Yes, opening the door for women to be kickers in the NFL is a big step towards breaking the gender barriers in sport and in professional football. But what about the ones who want to be and deserve the chance to be more? There's more to be said in the larger conversation but for now, opening these doors will continue to be important until there are no more doors to open.
"If I was a little girl watching and I saw an NFL kicker that was a female, that would be cool," Lloyd said.