Commentary

Stover's trying season could end Super

Colts' 42-year-old kicker honors his ailing mother during team's playoff run

Updated: February 2, 2010, 8:57 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

MIAMI -- The man who will be the oldest player to participate in a Super Bowl is a kicker dedicating this playoff run to his mother.

Matt Stover, the 42-year-old kicker for the Indianapolis Colts, could be playing in his final NFL game Sunday when his team takes on the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV.

[+] EnlargeMatt Stover
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesMatt Stover made 9 of 11 field goal attempts during the regular season after joining the Colts in Week 7.

But the Dallas Lake Highlands High School graduate is at peace with that, especially after what he's been through this season.

Stover's 76-year-old mother is in a Dallas-area hospital recovering from surgery to remove a brain tumor. Tasia Stover underwent surgery in early January, during the Colts' playoff run.

"It's been an opportunity for me, as a son, just to bring some happiness," Stover said Tuesday at Super Bowl media day. "To me, just for them to say, 'That's my son up there on TV.' That's OK.

"I know what my mom wants. She wants me to kick well and she doesn't want me to be a distraction to her, and I made peace with her a long time ago. Meaning, we're very close and we stay together. Very close. It's a privilege for me to kick for her."

This is the second time Tasia needed a tumor removed. Because she's going through rehab, she and husband Henry won't attend Sunday's game.

"They're going to have to watch the game from Dallas in the hospital room with the nurses," Stover said. "They're all fired up about it."

On the field, the 2009 season was one of patience for Stover.

He wasn't offered a guaranteed contract to stay with the Baltimore Ravens following the 2008 season, and then he turned down an offer to join the New York Jets during free agency. Stover said he respects coach Rex Ryan and didn't want to get into a competition with kicker Jay Feely, whom he considers a friend.

Stover kept working out, waiting for a chance. When the season started, nothing came. The Cleveland Browns wanted to sign Stover to a contract that might not have lasted the season, but he declined the offer.

After the New York Giants started 4-0 but were having kicking issues, they called Stover for a workout. The day after his workout with New York, the Colts contacted Stover because their kicker, Adam Vinatieri, needed arthroscopic surgery on his right knee.

"[Colts president] Bill Polian said I was the only one they were bringing in," Stover said. "I kicked real well [in the tryout] and they committed to me, not because I needed the money, but they need a kicker."

In the regular season, Stover made 9 of 11 field goal tries, including both from 40-49 yards. Stover is 5-for-5 in the postseason, including two against his former team, the Ravens, in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs.

Now, Stover has a chance to win his third Super Bowl ring. The first came in the 1990 season with the Giants, when he was on injured reserve his rookie season. Stover said he was on the sidelines watching the game with quarterback Phil Simms and rocker Jon Bon Jovi. The second ring came 10 years later with the Ravens. Stover went 2-for-3 in that Super Bowl, making kicks from 47 and 34 yards.

While on the plane here with the Colts, Stover wore his Giants ring.

"Some of the guys were like, 'Whoa, I was like 3 years old when you got that,'" Stover said.

Stover is well respected in the locker room, especially by Vinatieri, who has made 82 percent of his career field goal attempts.

"He's a great kicker who has done it for a lot of years," Vinatieri said. "He really pays attention to his body and works really hard at what he's doing, and that's why he's 42 and still doing this thing."

Stover said one of his dreams is to kick for his hometown team. The Cowboys are looking for a kicker, so they might go after him, although his age might give the team pause. Stover said he's worrying only about this season ... and his mom, of course.

"You know when you look at my age and the fact that I'm still kicking, it tells you that God's handprint is all over this," Stover said. "I see that this team looked through the age and saw my ability and trusted in me.

"I can help out this team, especially since they have one of the all-time best, Adam Vinatieri. It shows that they are committed to the position and they don't want to take any chances with it. I feel like it's a great privilege."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

MORE NFL HEADLINES