I’m not really sure exactly how far back it goes, but at least in recent years the Pittsburgh Steelers preferred to have a team captain for the special teams unit. Former safety Robert Golden spent at least a couple of years in that role, but the group turned to something of a gimmick last season.
Though it would not happen every week, a special teams player could ‘earn’ the captain title for at least the next game with his play the previous week, and he would be awarded a cane to carry and everything. Tyler Matakevich was the first special teams captain of the season after he blocked a punt on the second special teams play of the season. He broke up a pass on a fake punt the week after to retain his title. Later in the season, Golden completed a long pass on a fake punt to Darrius Heyward-Bey (if I recall correctly) to claim the cane.
But it looks like that gimmick is being laid to rest, and rightfully so. Not necessarily because it was a horrible idea, but because they have a clear captain now: Pro Bowl kicker Chris Boswell. ‘The Wizard of Boz’ is on the precipice of claiming the title of the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history in the early portion of the season.
His career average right now would in fact put him behind only active Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker for number two all-time, just ahead of the recently-released Dan Bailey, but the general standard is that one needs at least 100 field goal attempts to qualify. He has currently made 85 of 95 career attempts, and if he makes four of his first five, he will surpass Bailey, assuming the latter remains a stagnant target during that time.
Boswell had a career-year in 2017, connecting on 35 out of 38 field goals attempts for a field goal percentage of 92.1. One of the three field goals that he missed on the season was on a block, so he made 35 of 37 outside of that one.
In addition to the high general accuracy, he also connected on all four of his field goal attempts from 50 yards or beyond, which is the most makes in a single season in Steelers history from that range. His 35 field goals were also the most makes in a season, and his total points scored also broke a franchise record for one year.
The most impressive feat, however, was the fact that he was put in no fewer than four clutch, game-winning scenarios, requiring a field goal to win (though not necessarily lose) in the final minute of a game. He was cool under pressure, making all of them. In three of those cases, it came as time expired.
That’s why they just paid him. Previously scheduled to play under a second-round restricted free agent tender of just under $3 million, he recently received a four-year extension worth $16.8 million, reflecting a new-money portion of $4.2 million per season, the third-most for the position in the league.
When you have a wizard at your disposal, then yes, you make him your captain.