Bills' Kickers Survive Shuffle
By Jo E. Prout
The Bills had a rough roster season, dropping both rookies and veterans only to see the team’s remaining players unavoidably sidelined later. The roster shuffle may be business as usual in the NFL, but fans still wonder: what happens now?
The Bills’ former kicker Rian Lindell, 36, answered them late in the preseason after being released from the franchise. A 10-year veteran, Lindell left a going-away letter to the Bills nation where, instead of bitterness, he spoke of appreciated opportunities.
With an 83-percent accuracy rate for field goals, and a recently-negotiated $10.9 million contract with the Bills, Lindell should have been appreciated more than he was.
“It’s kind of the bad part about pro sports, kind of parting with a guy I have a lot of respect for and have admired watching for a long time, and has meant so much to the community,” said rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins about Lindell. Hopkins took Lindell’s place with the Bills before, ironically, suffering a groin injury in preseason. In a last-minute scramble, the Bills signed free agent kicker Dan Carpenter, who was released in August after five years with the Miami Dolphins.
“The thought is to come in here and do what I’ve always done,” Carpenter said. “I’m going to work hard, try to get better every day and when it comes down to the game, I’m going to try to kick the ball in the end zone and be 100-percent on field goals. That’s all I can do, all I can worry about it. That’s all I’m concerned about, helping this team win.”
Lindell, meanwhile, will be helping another team win. Immediately after the Bills released him, Lindell signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“While I begin a new and exciting chapter of my career, I look forward to our paths crossing again down the road,” he said in his letter. His path will cross the Bills’ when Tampa hosts Buffalo on Dec. 8.
“What I came to understand over the years, was the genuine passion Western New York and Bills nation has for their Bills,” Lindell said, “and I can't tell you how appreciative I am to have been a part of it for a decade.”
Lindell's open letter exhibited his professionalism instead of sour grapes, and his humanity by keeping his fans involved. His open letter may have been a calculated stunt for the media, but fans embraced it, and most are willing to grant Lindell the high road as he begins a new adventure in Tampa Bay.