Despite getting unceremoniously released midway through his first season by the Ravens as their primary kicker, Steve Hauschka said he doesn’t harbor a grudge against the Ravens.
“My job as an athlete is to focus on the things that I can control, and that’s kicking the ball,” said Hauschka, who now kicks for the Seattle Seahawks – the Ravens’ opponent this Sunday. “I don’t think the team’s decision is really going to affect it. When it really comes down to it, my job is to kick the ball. I don’t see any extra motivation to kick it harder or anything like that. That doesn’t make sense to me. I’ll treat it like any other game.”
Hauschka succeeded fan favorite Matt Stover prior to the 2009 season, beating out current Washington Redskins kicker Graham Gano in the preseason for that honor. Hauschka connected on 9-of-13 field goals and 27-of-28 extra points in eight contests.
But Hauschka’s conversion rate of 69.2 percent ranked 26th in the NFL at the time, and he missed three of his last seven field-goal attempts, including a 44-yarder that would have beaten the Minnesota Vikings on Oct. 18 as time expired.
Less than 24 hours after he missed a 36-yard attempt and had an extra point blocked in the team’s 16-0 shutout of the Cleveland Browns on Nov. 16, coach John Harbaugh informed Hauschka of the team’s decision to waive him.
“I just think that they made a decision they had to make,” Hauschka said. “I don’t have any hard feelings about it. This game is a business, and when we get into it, we all know it’s a business. Everyone gets released at some point. You can’t really have hard feelings about it. That’s not my job to do that. I’m just trying to kick the ball and I try not to worry about those other factors.”
After his release, Hauschka bounced around with the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions, the Las Vegas Locomotives of the UFL and the Denver Broncos before securing a spot with Seattle.
Billy Cundiff, who replaced Hauschka with the Ravens, said he has kept in touch with his predecessor.
“Some of the different things he had to deal with, I relate to that,” Cundiff said. “When I was a rookie, I had a tough first year. I was able to stay for four years, but my journey started after that. His happened after he got in and he’s had to go all around before he found a place to stick. It’s been one of those things where I could help him out with that transition, but a lot of times, it’s just moral support more than anything.”
This season, Hauschka is 10-of-12 on field goals (including 2-of-3 from 50 yards or more) and 12-of-12 on extra points this season. He said he’s slowly settling in with the Seahawks.
“I feel a lot more comfortable out there,” he said. “That’s part of the thing. If you look at any young kicker or any young player at any position, sometimes there are struggles and growing pains. I think that’s something that a lot of players have to go through in order to succeed in the NFL.”