How easy is it to catch a football and place it on the ground so the kicker can boot it for a game-winning field goal?
Tommy Hutton notwithstanding, pretty damn easy.
After Monday night’s devastating loss to the hated Dallas Cowboys, the Daily News wanted to see how tough it is to take a center snap and hold the ball for a kicker. Hutton’s failure to handle that task cost the Eagles the game.
Not to pile on the misery for the hardluck ball-holder, but we found that anybody can do the job. Even a city councilman.
In a wholly unscientific test, the Daily News headed out to City Hall courtyard and asked passers-by to try their best. We used a not-quite-regulation, imitation leather football and teed it up on a doormat that kind of looked like synthetic turf.
It wasn’t exactly Texas Stadium with 1 second left on the clock, but it was rush hour.
We brought along Pete Turchi, place-kicker for the La Salle University Explorers, just to give the experiment a marginal sense of realism.
“You’ve got to have confidence in your holder,” explained Turchi, a freshman. “It’s all about timing. ”
Timing, schmiming . . . we found a Dutch tourist who had never seen a football in her life and taught her how to do it in less than 3 minutes. Judith Eck, 29, looked nervous when she bobbled the first snap from the center, Kevin Currie, an assistant sports information director at La Salle.
“Not so fast,” Eck laughed.
On the second snap, she plucked the People Paper’s pigskin perfectly, plopped it on the ground, spun the laces forward and didn’t even blink as Turchi booted it into a garden of pink flowers.
Councilman Rick Mariano looked like a ringer when he took the first snap. He one-handed the catch, placed the ball on the green mat and held it without loosening his tie. Turns out, Mariano played semi-pro ball with the Piccoli Spartans in Juniata Park.
“Where were you last night when the Iggles needed you?” a wise-acre yelled out.
“Hey, I’d do it for $100,000 a game,” retorted Mariano,
Then, just to prove a point, he flipped off his wing tips and bare-footed the ball himself. It would have been good from the 25 yard line.
“Not long enough,” Mariano clucked. “I was trying to stick it into Rendell’s window on the second floor. ”
The Daily News had hoped Hizzoner would give it a try, but we never heard back from him. No doubt he was still mourning the horrible loss.
Ron Rivas, a SEPTA worker restoring a subway entrance at the courtyard, was frightened that Turchi would kick his finger. But he, too, held the ball with no problem.
“I feel kind of bad for Hutton,” Rivas said. “But holding the ball isn’t very hard to do, man.”
“It’s pretty easy, actually,” said Merrill Clampet-Lundquist, 27, a social worker from Queen Village who seemed at ease when he knelt behind the center. “I’m disgusted Hutton couldn’t do the job. He choked.”
Sari Brot, 25, a Temple University student from Israel, doesn’t know Tommy Hutton from E.F. Hutton. But she placed the ball like a pro.
“You mean, that’s all I’ve got to do?” wondered the puzzled Brot.
That’s just the point. Sorry, Tommy, but with a little practice, anybody can hold the ball. Even you.