Out-of-work kicker turns to golf to pay the bills
Al Del Greco is an out-of-work kicker with three children, but the former NFL placekicker couldn’t be happier.
Unemployment allows the former Tennessee Titans kicker to do what he loves best – play golf.
“If football is over for me, golf is how I’m going to make my living,” said Del Greco during Wednesday’s press conference for the July 6-8 American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Edgewood Tahoe. “I have a big passion for golf. I could practice every day of the week and it would not bother me.”
The 17-year NFL veteran was waived after the Titans were upset by eventual Super Bowl winner Baltimore in last year’s playoffs. Del Greco missed three of his four field goal attempts in his last game in a Titan uniform.
“I don’t know if you’d call it a scapegoat, but I was one of the targets of what happened in that game in the playoffs last year. But that’s part of the business,” said Del Greco, the defending tournament champion. “It certainly wasn’t a good time to have it, but I still feel I’m a pretty good kicker.”
With the NFL establishing salary cap figures June 1, Del Greco believes he could be snapped up sometime soon.
“I’ll stay in shape and see what happens this season,” he said. “You know somebody is going to mess up. It happens every year. If they start calling younger guys and I don’t get a look anymore, they kind of form that opinion that you’re done.”
New Orleans has expressed the most interest of the four teams which have contacted him since his March release.
“They are very good football team right now, and that may work to my favor, knowing that they may need somebody that’s a veteran and not take a chance with a younger guy,” Del Greco said.
But if he does hook up with another team, he hopes they have the “courtesy” to wait until after the preseason.
“This tournament would end on Sunday and then it would hit you that ‘Oh, my gosh, training camps starts in a week.’ It would leave a huge sick feeling in your stomach,” said one of the NFL’s top -10 all-time scorers. “This year, I’m pretty happy that I’m not going to have that sick feeling in my stomach. Hopefully, someone will call in August when all the sweat and other stuff is done.”
That delay will allow Del Greco to further his golf career. Since winning last year’s tournament with a record 7-under-par 65 in the final round, Del Greco has continued to improve. He won last week’s celebrity tournament in Texas and qualified for the Buy.com Tour opener in Gainesville, Fla, last spring. Del Greco missed the cut with rounds of 75 and 78 but came away from the experience feeling that he belonged with those professionals.
“I think I can go out there and compete a little bit with those guys. By no means could I win or be in the top 10, though,” said the 39-year-old Del Greco.
However, Del Greco did feel a tinge of intimidation.
“Unlike these events, I did feel nervous,” he said. “I don’t think it was because I didn’t think I could play. I was kind of self-conscious about them watching me as a football player and celebrity golfer and seeing what I could do. I think it kind of took away from my confidence level that week.”
If Del Greco qualifies for the Buy.com Tour full-time and an NFL team seeks his services, then he’d be presented with a difficult choice.
“That would be a nice problem to have. I honestly can’t answer that,” he said. “It would depend what the football situation was. One of the factors working with football is that I have kids 13, 11 and 7 who have gone back and forth between Birmingham and Nashville the last four years. Wherever I go, if I go somewhere, they’re not coming with me. So to go very far away would be very hard. I love my wife, I love my kids and I love being around them and having them around me.”
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