Opinion

Doug Blevins, Kicking Guru for College and N.F.L. Players, Dies at 60

Doug Blevins, who successfully coached college and N.F.L. kickers like Adam Vinatieri and Justin Tucker, despite never having played football because he had cerebral palsy, died on Sunday in Johnson City, in east Tennessee. He was 60.

His son, Roman, said the cause of death, in a hospital, was complications of esophageal cancer.

Doug was fascinated with football from a young age, increasingly with the nuances of kicking. He watched games and instructional videos, read books and, in high school, started to correspond with the Dallas Cowboys’ former kicking coach, Ben Agajanian. Doug would analyze video that Agajanian sent him, then use the information to improve the kicking on his high school team, where he was the trainer.

“Since I was handicapped, I knew I’d never play a down,” Blevins told The Los Angeles Times in 2000. “But I was set on this goal, making it to the National Football League.”

Blevins, who instructed kickers from his motorized wheelchair, taught himself the mechanics of place-kicking, punting and kickoffs. He analyzed hip rotations, leg swings and toe angles; he talked to kickers about where to ideally plant a foot before kicking a field goal and how to square one’s body to the end zone.

His best-known students included Vinatieri, who became the N.F.L.’s career scoring leader with the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts, and kicked two Super Bowl-winning field goals; Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens, who holds the league record for the highest percentage of field goals made; and Olindo Mare, the Miami Dolphins’ all-time scoring and field goal leader.

By the mid-1990s, word of Blevins’s reputation as a kicking guru was beginning to spread. Through an administrator at a community college where he had been coaching, he came to the attention of Dick Steinberg, the general manager of the New York Jets.

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