Shutdown Corner - NFL

Two things I think are underrated in life are touchbacks and fruit smoothies. Todd Carter can deliver them both.

At this time last year, Carter was working at the Tropical Smoothie Cafe, blending up Chocolate Chillers and Bahama Mamas for minimum wage. Today, he is a kicker for the Carolina Panthers, making $320,000 on a one-year deal. A pittance by NFL standards, but a mark rarely reached in the smoothie industry.

Carter just signed as a kickoff specialist for the Panthers, making him the world's most famous smoothie maker since Tron from the Mad Real World (some naughty language in that video). Veteran kicker John Kasay(notes) will still handle most kicks that have to travel through uprights, but Carter will handle kickoffs and perhaps some longer field goals.

Despite his time out of football, though, he has been working at his craft. It's not like some NFL scout wandered into the smoothie shop one day, noticed his well-sculpted calves and offered him a job as a kicker. He was a soccer goalie in high school, took on place-kicking in his senior year, and then kicked at Grand Valley State. He's also been working with former Cowboys punter Filip Filipovic(notes) in the meantime.

An opportunity came up when the Panthers incumbent kickoff guy, Rhys Lloyd(notes), signed with the Vikings. With Filipovic's help, Carter got a shot, and then got the job.

It's a tremendous story of a guy working hard and not giving up on his dream. It reminds me of Michael Lewis, the one-time Saints wide receiver who made it to the NFL after spending time driving a beer truck. If you're out there, busting your hump at a job where you bring delicious beverages to people, and you'd rather be doing something else, don't give up. It can happen for you, too.

Gracias, PFT.

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