The good news for Lauren Silberman is that she probably got more time on a New Jersey football field than Tim Tebow did in the past year. The bad news for the former soccer player, whose goal is to make waves as a potential football kicker at a high level, is that she lasted just two kickoffs at a regional combine at the New York Jets' practice field in Florham Park, N.J., before she pulled up with a quadriceps injury and was unable to continue. Silberman actually hurt her leg on the first kick, which traveled 19 yards in the air, before trying another boot that went 13 yards. Then, her day was done.
''They certainly didn't go as far as they were in practices,'' Silberman told media from more than 20 outlets who were on hand primarily to see how she would do, ''but I tried to work through the pain.''
The 28-year-old Silberman, a graduate student at MIT and ex-club soccer player in Wisconsin, had never kicked in a competitive football game before, but she made the cut at this regional combine -- kind of a minor-league version of the big combine that happened last week -- based on her overall athletic ability.
''Our job is to evaluate talent and not leave any stone unturned,'' Stephen Austin, the NFL's director of regional combines, told the Associated Press. ''We want young, athletic people who have played a sport, typically in college or military or small schools ... Until they get here, we don't have any idea of what they're really going to turn out to do and how they're going to perform."
Understandably, Austin graded Silberman's performance as "incomplete."
The media coverage of this event was at least 10 times larger than at your standard regional combine, so those on hand could be forgiven if the whole thing seemed to be a publicity stunt.
Silberman first gained notoriety on a national scale last month when she told the NFL Network that she could boot 60-yard field goals and was ready to take on that combine.
"I was not aware that I was the first female registrant," she said in mid-February. "I was actually hoping that the 2012 historical milestone rule, to allow women to play, would prompt more women to attend tryouts this year. But for me, what's important is to finally have a chance to fulfill my dreams by trying out to play in the world's most competitive football league."
Alas, it was not to be. NFL.com's Aditi Kinkhabwala, a female reporter who was on hand for the spectacle, didn't seem too impressed.
"Lauren Silberman spoke for a grand total of THREE minutes to the 30+ reporters waiting on her at the regional combine," Kinkhabwala said via her Twitter account. "Silberman said: "I really hope this signs a spotlight on sports generally for women." (I cannot even begin to respond in 140 charac[ters])"
''I'm just really happy I had this amazing experience,'' Silberman said. ''I might be the first woman trying out for the NFL, but I certainly hope I'm not the last.''
Perhaps one day, the NFL will have a female kicker. Until then, this is as good a time as any to remind ourselves that once upon a time, the great Kathy Ireland had some game in that department (and yes, you should watch "Necessary Roughness" if you haven't before).
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