Sav Rocca

Last updated

Sav Rocca
Sav Rocca 2018.1.jpg
Rocca in 2018
No. 6, 26, 36
Position: Full forward, centre half-forward (Australian football)
Punter (American football)
Personal information
Born: (1973-11-20) 20 November 1973 (age 47)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:263 lb (119 kg)
Career history
AFL
NFL
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
AFL Games:156 (Collingwood)
101 (North Melbourne)
257 (Total)
AFL Goals:514 (Collingwood)
234 (North Melbourne)
748 (Total)
NFL Punts:517
NFL Punt yards:22,169
NFL Punting yard average:42.9
NFL Longest punt:69 yards
Player stats at NFL.com

Saverio Giovanni "Sav" Rocca (born 20 November 1973) is a retired Australian professional sportsman. He played Australian rules football for Collingwood and North Melbourne in the Australian Football League, and then switched to playing American football as a punter for the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins in the National Football League.

Contents

Rocca was born in Melbourne. Between 1992 and 2007, he played 257 AFL games as a full forward or centre half-forward, kicking 748 goals. He ranks fourteenth on the all-time goalscoring list. Rocca was his team's leading goalkicker on ten occasions (seven for Collingwood and three for North Melbourne), and in 1995 won the Copeland Trophy as Collingwood's best and fairest player. Only two players (Matthew Richardson and Kevin Bartlett) have scored more goals in their career without winning a Coleman Medal (i.e., scoring the most goals in a particular season).

Known for his ability to kick long distances, Rocca retired from Australian football at the age of 32 to pursue a career in the NFL. When he signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007, he became the oldest rookie in the history of the NFL (breaking the record set by another Australian, Ben Graham). [1] After four seasons with the Eagles, Rocca joined the Washington Redskins in 2011, where he played three seasons through 2014. He then returned to Australia after the end of his NFL career, and currently works as a kicking coach for the Carlton Football Club.

Early life

Rocca was born in Melbourne to Italian parents. At age 12, Rocca recorded the longest kick by anyone of his age at the Reservoir football oval. He began his sporting life in athletics, coached by George Bertolacci, and was a junior champion in shot put and also the discus. Rocca decided to focus on Australian rules and after several seasons playing for Reservoir-Lakeside Football Club in the Diamond Valley Football League, his goalkicking talent became obvious.

His brother is Anthony Rocca, who also played professional football. For a brief time in their careers, they both played for Collingwood, combining at centre half and full-forward. [2]

AFL career

Collingwood

Rocca joined Collingwood in 1991, the last year that allowed zoned players to avoid the draft process. [3] He was a strong full-forward with a huge kick, showing true signs as a key player to the Magpies in his debut season of 1992. In 1993, he quickly got the attention from the crowds, kicking 73 goals including two hauls of ten goals in a matter of three weeks. In 1994, he kicked 49 goals.

A huge kick, he could kick the ball dead straight over 60 metres. In 1995, he had his best season, almost getting 100 goals, falling short with 93 in 21 games. He played what he later considered the best game of his career in the inaugural Anzac Day clash between Collingwood and Essendon, kicking nine goals; he was later retrospectively awarded an Anzac Medal for his best on ground performance, the match ended in a draw. [4] He won the Collingwood best and fairest award that year. He continued to show he was a strong full-forward and always at the top in what seemed a disappointing side when it came to the ladder, he kicked bags of 66, 76 and 68 in the next three seasons. He placed second for the Coleman Medal for 1997 behind Tony Modra.

His form however slipped, kicking only 60 goals in the next two seasons. Despite winning his 7th consecutive leading goalkicker award in 1999 with only 33 goals, he was delisted after more than 150 games and over 500 goals for the club.

North Melbourne

Rocca while he played for the North Melbourne Kangaroos Saverio rocca.jpg
Rocca while he played for the North Melbourne Kangaroos

After being delisted by Collingwood, Rocca was drafted to the North Melbourne Football Club, then known as the Kangaroos, with the 30th selection in the 2000 AFL Draft. He kicked 98 goals in his first two seasons, enough to be the Kangaroos' leading goalkicker in each year. His form once again slipped over the years but he was still a key member when needed, kicking his 700th goal in 2005 and set to play his 250th game.

During the 2006 season, Rocca was dropped to the VFL, playing games with North Ballarat. At 32 and under contract until the end of the season, Rocca seemed close to retirement from the AFL. In preparation for a continued professional sporting career, he began training as an American football punter, appearing in a video shot at Docklands Stadium in Melbourne showing his significant kicking range to talent scouts. Rocca remained at the Kangaroos to reach the 100 game milestone so that the father-son rule applies for his sons. [5] He played his farewell game in the Round 22 match against his old club Collingwood, Rocca kicked three goals.

Wasting no time, he left for the United States on a trial as a gridiron punter with the Philadelphia Eagles the following week. [6]

NFL career

Philadelphia Eagles

While on the Eagles, Rocca at a 2009 preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Sav Rocca.jpg
While on the Eagles, Rocca at a 2009 preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

2007

Rocca had tried out for the Buffalo Bills in 2006 but was not invited to training camp. [7] The Philadelphia Eagles, looking to provide some competition for Dirk Johnson, signed Rocca for the 2007 training camp. [8]

In the Eagles preseason, Rocca had several punts of over 50 yards and another that went over 65 yards. On the 65-yard punt, Antwan Barnes of the Baltimore Ravens levelled Rocca, knocking off his helmet. While officials did not penalise Barnes during the game, the league fined him US$12,500 for the hit. [9]

Rocca was favoured over Johnson by placekicker David Akers as his holder for place kicks. He was not perfect, however, mishandling a snap on one attempt and failing to handle a poor snap on a second attempt in a game against the New York Jets. [10]

On the final day of cuts, Rocca learned that he had won the job when Johnson was released. [11]

Rocca had 73 punts for 3,066 net yards for a 42.00 average during his first NFL season in 2007. [12]

Rocca, at 33 years of age, was the oldest rookie in NFL history, a title which previously belonged to another Australian born Punter, Ben Graham who, at the time, played for the Jets at age 31. [13]

2008 season

Rocca was named the NFL Special Teams Player of the Month for September 2008, leading the league with a 44.1-yard net punting average and having seven punts downed inside the 20-yard-line. [14] Overall, in the 2008 season, he appeared in all 16 regular season games and had 77 punts for 3,334 net yards for a 43.30 average. [15]

2009 season

In the 2009 season, Rocca appeared in all 16 games and recorded 76 punts for 3,222 net yards for a 42.39 average. [16]

2010 season

On 22 April 2010, Rocca signed his one-year restricted free agent tender with the Eagles. [17] Overall, Rocca appeared in all 16 regular season games and recorded 73 punts for 3,195 net yards for a 43.77 average. [18]

Washington Redskins

2011 season

Rocca was signed by the Washington Redskins on 29 July 2011. [19] He was considered one of the Redskins best free agency signings for the 2011 season due to the massive improvement he was from the several punters the team had in the 2010 season, which included Sam Paulescu, Josh Bidwell, and Hunter Smith. [20] In Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals, with ten seconds left in the game, Rocca made an impressive tackle on Patrick Peterson, who attempted to make a punt return. [21] Overall, Rocca appeared in all 16 regular season games and recorded 66 punts for 2,842 net yards for a 43.06 average. [22]

2012 season

On 29 October 2012, it was reported that Rocca had been playing with a torn meniscus in his kicking leg for the last two games and the Redskins planned to keep using him despite the injury. [23] Overall, he appeared in all 16 regular season games and recorded 68 punts for 2,984 net yards for a 43.88 average. [24]

2013 season

Rocca agreed to re-sign with the Redskins on a two-year contract on the first day of free agency for the 2013 season. [25] The new deal was finalised on 18 March 2013. [26] He appeared in all 16 regular season games and recorded 84 punts for 3,526 net yards for a 41.98 average. [27]

Rocca was released after the season on 4 March 2014. [28]

Return to AFL

Rocca playing for North Melbourne (2004) Sav Rocca playing for North Melbourne (2004).jpg
Rocca playing for North Melbourne (2004)

In April 2015, it was reported that Rocca was recruited to work part-time at the Carlton Football Club as a forwards mentor for players such as Levi Casboult. [29]

It was announced in December 2016 that Rocca would join Carlton as their kicking coach for the 2017 AFL season. Carlton's Head of Football Andrew McKay said that they were stoked to have Rocca on board as he "not only has a wealth of knowledge in kicking techniques, but is also able to pass that knowledge onto players in a really effective way". [30]

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References

  1. "Eagles take a punt on Rocca". foxsports.com.au. 1 September 2007.
  2. "Rocca to follow Saverio to NFL". AFL.com.au . 21 September 2009.
  3. Lovett, Michael, ed. (2005). AFL Record 2005 Guide to Season. p. 335. ISBN   0-9580300-6-5.
  4. Mike Sheahan (20 April 2011). "Sav Rocca boots nine goals in a great Anzac Day clash". Herald Sun. Melbourne, VIC. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
  5. "US punt keeps Roos' Rocca fully focused". The Age . 29 August 2006.
  6. "Blinq". Blogs.philly.com. Retrieved 23 September 2010.
  7. "NFL Hopeful Jy Bond Continues Development as Punter". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  8. "Sav Rocca Makes Eagles Squad". Australian Football Association of North America. 3 September 2007. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  9. "Ravens rookie Barnes fined for big hit against Eagles". Carroll County (Maryland) Times . 24 August 2007. Archived from the original on 12 August 2009.
  10. "Laces Out". The News Journal . Wilmington, Delaware. 31 August 2007.
  11. "It's official: Johnson, Bloom among cuts". Philadelphia Inquirer . 2 September 2007.
  12. "Saverio Rocca 2007 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  13. "NFL's oldest rookie? Divorced college dropout from Owosso finds unlikely new life as a kicker". USA TODAY High School Sports. 13 January 2013. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  14. "Eagles Notes: Westbrook takes a few more steps; Rocca named ST Player of the Month". Philadelphia Inquirer . 3 October 2008. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  15. "Saverio Rocca 2008 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  16. "Saverio Rocca 2009 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  17. "Rocca re-signs with Eagles". ESPN.com . Associated Press. 22 April 2010. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
  18. "Saverio Rocca 2010 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  19. Paulsen, Grant (28 July 2011). "Redskins to Sign Sav Rocca". CBS - Washington. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  20. Campbell, Rich (24 November 2011). "Sav Rocca erased Redskins' punting woes from last season". WashingtonTimes.com. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
  21. Svrluga, Barry (18 September 2011). "Redskins punter Sav Rocca has no problem tackling". WashingtonPost.com. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  22. "Saverio Rocca 2011 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  23. El-Bashir, Tarik (29 October 2012). "Sav Rocca punting despite torn meniscus". CSNWashington.com. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  24. "Saverio Rocca 2012 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  25. Jones, Mike (12 March 2013). "Redskins bringing back punter Sav Rocca". Washington Post. Retrieved 12 March 2013.
  26. Tinsman, Brian (18 March 2013). "Redskins Finalize Deal With Sav Rocca". Redskins.com. Retrieved 18 March 2013.
  27. "Saverio Rocca 2013 Game Log". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  28. Jones, Mike (4 March 2014). "Redskins part ways with Adam Carriker, Sav Rocca, three others". Washington Post. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  29. Landsberger, Sam (13 April 2015). "Sav Rocca brought in by Carlton to help fix Levi Casboult's goalkicking style". Herald Sun. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  30. Footy Newsroom (5 December 2016). "Collingwood Legend Sav Rocca Joins Rival Club". Triple M Sydney. Retrieved 8 December 2016.

*Sav Rocca's playing statistics from AFL Tables

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Dirk Johnson
Philadelphia Eagles punters
2007–2010
Succeeded by
Chas Henry
Preceded by
Hunter Smith
Washington Redskins punters
2011–2013
Succeeded by
Tress Way