Fellow female kicker on Lauren Silberman: 'She was terrible'

11:15 AM, Mar 4, 2013   |    comments
Lauren Silberman boots the ball during kicker tryouts at the NFL football regional combine workout Sunday, March 3, 2013, in Florham Park, N.J.
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (USA TODAY) - Katie Hnida wonders if Lauren Silberman and the NFL have done damage to the dreams of female athletes.

Silberman was one of 38 kickers to take part in the league's New York/New Jersey regional scouting combine at the New York Jets' facility. She was the only woman, the first female participant in an NFL-sponsored tryout, and was hoping to prove her kicks could stand up to the booming 55-yard field goals some of the men were making.

CUT SHORT: Silberman's bid ends after two kicks

Silberman kicked only twice. They were two kickoffs for a total of 30 yards. Only one crossed the midfield stripe - by a yard. After that, her day was over because she said she aggravated a quad injury she suffered in practice last week.

The way Hnida saw it, those practice sessions couldn't have been that intense.

"Her performance does not have to do with her gender. It has to do with her experience and her preparation," Hnida, a former kicker for Colorado and New Mexico and the first woman to score a point in a Division 1 football game, told USA TODAY Sports by phone. "Unfortunately, what's going to happen now is she's going to be looked at (as inferior) because she was female.

"But she was terrible."

Hnida knows because she saw a clip of Silberman's kicks.

"I saw the video," Hnida said with a sigh. "I saw the video."

What Hnida didn't see was the 20-second period before the kick in which Silberman couldn't figure out how to stand the ball on the tee without it falling. Hnida fell silent on the other end of the phone when told that.

Hnida, who is battling back from a blood clot that's put her Arena League career on hold, also didn't see the awkward nine steps backward and five steps sideways as Silberman lined up 6 yards behind the ball instead of the standard approach of 10 or more yards.

Three kickers who tried out along with Silberman Sunday said the former MIT student asked a few of them how to approach the ball on the kick. The kickers spoke to USA TODAY Sports on condition of anonymity because they didn't want to hurt their chances of getting another tryout with a team.

Silberman's technique, as Hnida noted, was terrible.

Silberman took no warm-up kicks Sunday, saying she was nursing her injury - an injury combine officials said they had no idea she'd suffered. But even as she jogged awkwardly toward an empty tee, it was clear her kicks were going to be dreadful - quad pull or no quad pull.

"I also find it curious she didn't warm up. You never go in kicking cold," Hnida said. "There's a reason why the kickers are the first people out there. It takes us a while to warm up."

Though the league reserves the right to deny a registration, it apparently made no attempt to determine whether Silberman had a chance to put forth a good effort. Now, other young women likely will have an even tougher path to gender equality on the football field.

"It is disappointing," Hnida said. "I hoped she would go out and do justice for an NFL tryout, because there are lots of people who have dreamed of going to the NFL. It should be something serious."

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