Punter Greg Montgomery

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Greg Montgomery

Team: Houston Oilers

Career: Greg Montgomery was the NCAA’s leading punter in 1987 after rewriting Michigan State’s career record book his senior season. He was the Spartans’ all-time leader in both career and season average and was also responsible for the school’s longest punt (records he still holds to this very day). But even with such credentials, he was a surprise third round pick of the Oilers in the 1988 draft. A punter?! In the third round?! He proved to be worth the gamble, though his talents were somewhat wasted during the run-n-shoot’s heyday.

Montgomery owns five of the top 8 single-season punt averages (including the top 3) in club history. In 1992 and again in 1993, he led the NFL in punting and would have led the league in 1990 as well, but netted just 18 punts in the team’s final 11 games that year, failing to average the 2.5 punts per game necessary to qualify. But such was life for the run-n-shoot punter. His appearance usually meant the unstoppable offense had somehow been stopped, something that happened few and far between in those days. Montgomery was the gridiron equivalent of the Grim Reaper to fans and offensive coaches.

In fact, his lack of field time led teammates to nickname him "The Maytag Repairman" in 1990, though he was able to accumulate over 10,00 total yards in career punts. And in those rare instances when he was called upon, Montgomery routinely delivered. In a 1992 game against the Bills, Montgomery averaged 59.2 yards per punt, booting blasts 57, 58, 61, 59 and 61 yards. His average that night was the fourth best in NFL history and highest in 46 years.

But to say he didn’t contribute to the team just because he didn’t see that much action would be a gross understatement. Montgomery was the consummate class clown, known as much for his locker room pranks and keeping his teammates loose as he was for his booming right leg.

Houston Highlight: Late in the 1991 AFC divisional playoff game at Denver, with Houston leading 24-23, Montgomery lofted a drive near the corner of the Bronco end zone. It bounced inside the five and hopped out of bounds at the two-yard line with 2:07 left in regulation.

Were it not for a quarterback named John Elway, Montgomery’s punt would have sealed an important playoff victory. Instead, the play is remembered as the beginning of "The Drive II," which saw Elway convert two fourth down plays to set up a winning field goal as time ran down.

by Ric Sweeney

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