Pro Football Weekly was proud to present its 2009 Golden Toe Award, given to the NFL’s best kicker or punter each season, to Raiders P Shane Lechler last Thursday, prior to the Raiders’ final preseason game against the Seahawks.
The award has been issued annually since 1971 (with the exception of the 1985 season). PFW’s editors and writers debate the candidates’ merit at the conclusion of the season, and it was clear during the process that Lechler’s 2009 campaign was special.
Lechler averaged a career-best 51.1-yard gross punting average and came within a few percentage points of the Holy Grail for punters — Sammy Baugh’s vaunted 1940 record of 51.4 that has stood for nearly 70 years.
Other former Raiders winners include punters Ray Guy (1975) and Jeff Gossett (1991). The Raiders and Chiefs are the only teams with three Golden Toe awards.
Traditionally, it has been a kicker’s award — since 1993, only three punters have won it.
“I want to thank the fans, especially,” said the 11th-year veteran Lechler at the presentation. “It means a lot to have your support and winning an award such as this.”
Senior editor Eric Edholm presented Lechler with the award and issued him a challenge at the presentation: only two players — Morten Andersen and Adam Vinatieri — have won the award twice, and no kicker or punter has won it in back-to-back seasons.
The humble Lechler smiled and blushed as the Raiders' crowd cheered him on even more.
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