Nate Kaeding was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 2004, he was used with one of the picks in the draft day trade that sent Eli Manning to the Giants. Kaeding has only worn one jersey during his NFL career. That all changed last week. After landing on the IR early this season, San Diego decided to release Kaeding. The two-time Pro Bowler is the most accurate kicker in NFL history. He has hit 87 percent of the kicks he has attempted in the regular season but in the playoffs it has been a different story and his costly misses won’t be forgotten any time soon by San Diego fans.
Nate Kaeding joined XX 1090 in San Diego with Darren Smith to talk about being released by the Chargers, why he wanted to be released, how long he has been ready to kick, whether he thinks the front office’s reputation of being tough for players to work with is accurate, what his plans are now that he has been released and what he thinks about the Chargers’ struggles this season.
On being released by the Chargers:
“It’s taken a little time to settle in over the last week and a half and I certainly wish I would’ve been released a little earlier because I’ve been healthy here the last couple of weeks and as an NFL player, especially with the blown ACL last year, you don’t want that stigma of IR on you and we hoped it would’ve been done earlier but it’s gradually sort of sunk in. It was a little bit of a surprise when it happened last week and immediately like anything else you turn your focus on to what’s next and that’s training and getting ready for whatever opportunity is down the road whether that’s in two weeks or four months or whatever it is, it’s an uncertain time but looking back at my time here in San Diego all in all it’s been a great experience and I don’t know anything else, I don’t know anything different in the NFL. The people and players I interacted with every day in the locker room, I really do believe they’re high quality and high character people and I will certainly miss the relationship I built with them in the locker room.”
Why he wanted to be released:
“I got put on Injured Reserve and soon there after I was completely healthy so I just felt like in my mind it didn’t make a whole lot of sense that if you’re healthy and you’re on Injured Reserve those two things don’t really jive together so I wanted to be released, get out there, seek employment and that was the biggest thing. The second thing is we have a baby coming any day and we wanted that whole side of things to get cleared up as soon as possible so I could turn my focus on to family, what’s going on here and be there with my wife as the baby comes in so just wanted get that all cleared up and hopefully it wouldn’t sprinkle at all into this week. Unfortunately it did, but it’s done and the Chargers organization, I’m sure has there reasons for it as well and they’re acting in the best interest of the organization which you have to expect them to do. It was a bit unfortunate how it all came to be but that’s the business of the NFL. You sit in the locker room and watch it happen to a whole bunch of your old teammates and everybody around the league and I’m not naive enough to think for some reason I would be an exception to have it all come to an end but I certainly wanted to be their with my teammates and finish this thing off this year and that’s what you train for an entire season. It’s disappointing that I wasn’t able to be there to finish it off but now turn my energy and focus on to the next thing.”
How long he has been ready to kick:
“I came into the office Monday ready to play in the Cleveland game. I tweaked my groin a couple of days before the Kansas City game and those things take a couple of weeks to calm down especially with the bye week down the road a couple of weeks and we figured just use that as another buffer and took that extra week to be a little extra cautious with it and get strong and healthy to make a good 10 week push through the season and I guess the organization had some different plans on how they wanted to handle it, but like I said that’s their decision, they have the right to that decision and I just have to do what I have to do moving forward.”
If he thinks the front office’s reputation for not being player-friendly is accurate:
“I don’t know. We don’t have a whole lot of interaction with the people in the front office there so it’s hard to comment on what goes on there. We interact with the support staff, the training staff, the public relations staff and all those people are outstanding and those are the people, you ask NFL player, you walk in that door in the morning and those are the people you see every day, those are the relationships that you build and in the end that’s all that really matters. It’s those people that you see everyday and work alongside you to help you be better at your game and those people are some of the greatest human beings you’d ever want to come across and I was lucky to have them there with me through my whole time here.”
What is next for him:
“Go up there with John (Kasay) and keep training. Bring our next baby in and I’m still writing my story. I look back on my career here and there’s been good and certainly with some of my performances in the playoffs that’s something that I want to go out and write another chapter on and make good on that on my next opportunity. That’s my thing, that’s been motivating me for a long time and I look forward to keep working on it, keep writing my story and hopefully that story has a good ending.”
What he thinks of the Chargers struggles this season:
“I think it gets hard to see the forest through the trees especially from a fan’s perspective, but like I said at the top the quality and character of the people and the players in that locker room is incredibly tough. I wouldn’t want anyone else playing quarterback but Philip Rivers. My locker was next to him the entire nine years that I was there and you talk about a quality guy with some strong moral fiber and that’s him. If you’re going to ask anybody to bring a team back from a 3-4 record and to the playoffs, that’s your guy and there’s a lot of other great people there that I’m going to miss being around and I really think from a fans perspective those are the kinds of people you want to root for. I know in some other NFL lockers there are some bad eggs there but honestly to a man there isn’t one that I have come across in my time in San Diego and that’s a credit to the organization for bringing high quality guys in there. I’ve always had the mindset that those are the kinds of guys that win out. It certainly hasn’t gone how any of us would’ve liked in the first half of the season but there’s another half left and I wouldn’t give up yet.”