I was scrolling through the Pittsburgh Steelers’ roster, trying to find something to write about during these quiet times, and one player caught my eye. Punter Jordan Berry is entering his sixth year in the league. That crept up fast. To me, anyway.
And it made me think. When was the last time the team had the same punter for this long? If Berry makes it as the Steelers’ punter in 2020, he’s on track to do so, he’ll be their guy for six straight seasons. And that puts him in rare company in franchise history.
Since the 1970 merger, here’s a list of punters who led the team in punts for at least six consecutive seasons.
Bobby Walden – 10 seasons (1968-1977)
Josh Miller – 8 seasons (1996-2003)
Jordan Berry – 5 seasons (2015-Present)
Harry Newsome – 5 seasons (1985-1989)
Berry would become the third Steelers’ punter of the last 50 years, joining Walden and most recently, Miller. Worth noting Craig Colquitt did punt for Pittsburgh for six seasons but missed 1982 due to a knee injury suffered in a pick-up basketball game.
There’s a debate over whether Berry’s play has warranted such longevity and the way he ended 2019 was a disaster but he has offered stability at the position compared to the revolving door before him. After Daniel Sepulevda’s career ended due to knee injuries, the team bounced from punter to punter for the next five years. Jeremy Kapinos in 2011, Drew Butler the following year, then Zoltan Mesko, Mat McBriar, and Brad Wing before Berry beat him out and cemented his spot.
Of course, Berry still has to make the team to complete that sixth year. He’s the odds on favorite but a poor camp could put his spot into question. Not necessarily to the other punter on the roster, UDFA Corliss Waitman, but any veteran punter who gets cut around the league.
One thing working in Berry’s favor is his own continuity with Chris Boswell. New punter means new holder and Boswell is coming off a crucial bounce back season. Good teams don’t keep bad punters just because they hold but it’s something to consider when making a change.