Dan Bailey: Undrafted Free Agent to Unsung Cowboys Hero


In Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, with 14 seconds left on the clock, the Washington Redskins tied the game in regulation, 24 to 24.  I knew at that moment what would happen next.  Having watched Dan Bailey kick for my beloved Oklahoma State Cowboys, it was very obvious what would soon occur.  Bailey would, once again, come in to save the Cowboys.  He successfully kicked the game-winning 39-yard field goal in overtime.  His teammates surrounded him in celebration.

Less than four months ago not too many people outside the state of Oklahoma knew this young kicker.  Let me take you back a few years for a bit of history.  Not many people know that Bailey started out on an 8-man football team at Southwest Covenant High School.  After graduating high school, he went to Fayetteville, AR, where he was a walk-on for the Razorbacks.  When that did not work out, he headed to Stillwater, OK.  His records at OSU proved that he would one day be worthy of an NFL paycheck.  He had made 24-of-28 field goals and 65-of-66 extra points at his alma mater.  He earned the Big 12 Conference Special Teams Player of the Year in 2010.

Fresh out of college, this small town boy from Yukon, OK, began his search for an NFL team.  As an undrafted free agent, he got the call to come visit Dallas from a town of just over 22,000.  Not many people get that kind of opportunity in life. According to message boards around the country, he was a shoe-in for the Cowboys.  As a Lou Groza award winner in 2011, the orange-clad in Oklahoma knew the kid could put the ball through the uprights.  So, like I said, we all believed he was a lock for the Cowboys organization.

In August, things became dicey for Bailey when additional kickers were added to the practice squad.  Word around the nation indicated that Jerry Jones wanted to keep two kickers on the team.  Bailey had to prove his leg was better than all the rest.  At that point, he had attempted one extra point (which he nailed.)  However, no field goals were attempted in the first two pre-season games.  Then finally, his leg got some action against the Minnesota Vikings when he hit two field goals.

Imagine the excitement for a young kid out of Oklahoma.  It looked like the job was his.  Then, from out of nowhere comes…..another kicker.  To most young rookies that would have had to be frustrating, but maybe after competing with seventeen other kickers, it was worth the frustration. Bailey appears to be unfettered, just look at what he has done since getting the starting job.

Bailey has scored 25 field goals and 25 extra points.  That is a 100 points out of a total of 250 points scored by the Cowboys.  This may not be a statistic worth tracking, but 40%, which is almost half of the total points scored to date, seems pretty significant.  How does that compare to the league’s top kickers?

  • Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys                             100 points out of 250         40.0%
  • David Akers, San Francisco 49ers                   102 points out of 256         39.8%
  • Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears                            92 points out of 268          34.3%
  • John Kasay, New Orleans Saints                       99 points out of 313          31.6%
  • Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots    87 points out of 293          29.6%
  • Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders           73 points out of 235          31.0%
  • Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers                    64 points out of 355          18.0%

Here is what our rookie had to say recently,

“It’s just you going out there and executing it when you’re supposed to.  It’s not all me, I got good blocking and obviously [the] offense and defense played well today. It’s not just me out there, it’s 10 other guys out there.”

Bailey is currently leading all place-kickers with 24 consecutive made field goals.  He could easily tie the team record of 27 consecutive field goals set by current kicking coach, Chris Boniol.  Tony Romo says,

“He has given us no reason not to think that he’s going to come through, the guy is just solid. I almost feel bad when I am holding for him because I feel like my hold is the reason the ball might drift. He’s that good.”

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

On one hand, the above information tells us that the nations best kickers, on the best teams, do not necessarily score the majority of the points. From the Cowboys perspective, though, it indicates that our young, rookie, Oklahoma boy is on top of what would be considered the NFL’s best.  A team with an inconsistent offense, like the Dallas Cowboys, can still be successful if they are able to fall back on a reliable field goal kicker.

I move to not only give this guy the job permanently, but release all the other sitting place-kickers, and give our unsung hero a raise.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Dan Bailey David Akers Kicker Mason Crosby Tony Romo

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