Pundits breathlessly proclaimed Lauren Silberman’s appearance at a National Football League scouting camp as an historic first for female athletes.
Those who watched video of her called it a sham.
ABC News said the 28-year-old MIT graduate “shattered the glass ceiling over the gridiron” by auditioning with dozens of college players dreaming of becoming an NFL kicker on Sunday. She’s the first woman to appear at the NFL combines, a physical pressure test for budding football players.
Silberman made two attempts, kicking the ball about 30 yards in total before pulling out with a hamstring injury. She’d never kicked a football in a game before, having only played amateur soccer.
Her thesis was apparently about how athletes could use video games to improve their performances, and she herself tried a virtual kick or two before appearing at the New Jersey camp.
Apparently she was there on the strength of her performance at a fan event where someone recorded cellphone video of her kicking some footballs on a mini-field, NFL.com said.
On Sunday, even those uncomfortable few attempts would’ve been welcome.
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She had trouble setting up a football on a tee, ran gingerly toward the ball and flailed awkwardly at the ball. Her first kick went 13 yards and her second 19.
Those of us who live and breathe NFL through fantasy football, jeopardizing our marriages by dedicating ourselves to Thursday night and Monday night football while camping out all day Sunday, are scratching our heads over this.
Is the NFL hurting for publicity? Was it jealous of all the sweet publicity Danica Patrick generated for NASCAR? Silberman was obviously poorly prepared and lacked any real ability to kick a football. So why go through with this?
She told NFL network she didn’t expect to win a job in the league, but was “expecting to have fun and meet interesting people” while perfecting her technique.
The thing is, there are women out there who are very accomplished kickers.
Katie Hnida was the first woman to score a point in NCAA Division 1 football when she kicked for Colorado and New Mexico. She was negotiating an Arena Football League tryout when health problems sidelined her career.
“Her performance does not have to do with her gender. It has to do with her experience and her preparation," Hnida told USA Today. "Unfortunately, what's going to happen now is she's going to be looked at (as inferior) because she was female. … But she was terrible."
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