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An Ode to Sam Koch

Sam Koch holder OTL
original: Shawn Hubbard/Baltimore Ravens
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“Way to do your job.”

The Ravens’ special teams mantra referenced so many times by Sam Koch is a little ironic to me, considering how much Koch has done for the team that’s outside the traditional job description for a punter.

Sure, he’s been one of the most consistent and reliable punters in the NFL over his 16-year career, but he also spent most of that time as the Ravens’ holder and emergency quarterback, excelling in both of those roles.

Okay, so he never had to step in at quarterback, but he did a great job executing fake punts, completing seven of eight passes over his career for five first downs. As ex-Chargers running back Danny Woodhead put it, Koch was “unreal good.”

But Woodhead’s tribute to Koch is even more notable considering that Woodhead spent only one season in Baltimore and didn’t even play a single snap on special teams. That’s the kind of impact that Koch had on and off the field.

 

He revolutionized punting, introducing a series of creative ways to induce different trajectories and spins on the football, including his trademark “Koch Hook.” But he also made sure that the rest of Baltimore’s special teams units stayed up to the high standards set by John Harbaugh. His veteran leadership will be missed in the locker room, especially if Jimmy Smith and Pernell McPhee don’t return this year either.

 

But above all, Koch is a family man. You can see the pride he takes in his own family whenever he speaks or posts on social media about them, and he extended that love to his Ravens family.

As a kid at training camp, I felt that love, too. Koch smiled when I asked him about his favorite punt and took the time to break down a few of his signature kicks. He recommended a few stretches to keep my legs pliable when I commented on how stressful punting must be on both the plant and kicking legs, then he moved on to make another young fan’s day.

Thankfully, he’ll still be part of the team as a special teams consultant, where his first job will be to pass along his wisdom to rookie punter Jordan Stout. If Stout can be half of the punter, leader and all-around football player that Koch was, the Ravens are in good hands…or legs.

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