Stover Leaves NFL

Even with the labor strife in the NFL, ordinary business keeps rolling along.  Meetings being cancelled, rules being changed, and prominent players choosing to retire rather than keep kicking.

One of those players is Matt Stover.  Stover, along with Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome, is perhaps the only players to actually be loved in both Cleveland and Baltimore.  That is because Stover was the last kicker with the old Browns that moved the Baltimore and became the Ravens.  Stover made the move with the team and eventually kicked the Ravens to a Super Bowl championship.

Stover plans on retiring from the NFL at the Ravens training complex in Baltimore Thursday.  This announcement will end a career that spanned 20 years and three NFL teams.

Now even with the lockout, the league can hold the draft, take pictures and invoke rules changes.  However let’s be serious here.  Official transactions are not allowed during the lockout.  Which means Stover is expected to symbolically sign a one-day contract to, and then retire with the franchise he played under for 18 years. Until 2009, Stover had been the only place-kicker in Ravens history.

Stover began as a 12th round draft pick of the New York Giants in 1990.  But that first year he spent on the injured reserve list, not playing a down.  In 1991 he was signed by the Cleveland Browns and won the kicking job.  He kicked for the Browns until 1995, and then moved to Baltimore with the club in 1996.

Stover, 43, didn’t play last year.  He sat out the season waiting for a club to call.  He ranks fourth in NFL history with 2,004 points. He made 471 field goals, connecting on 83.7 percent of his attempts, the seventh-best success rate in league history.

Stover was the kicker for the Ravens for 13 seasons. After Baltimore decided against bringing Stover back for a 14th season, he was signed by the Indianapolis Colts in 2009 to replace an injured Adam Vinatieri and became the older player (42) to play in the Super Bowl.  That game proved to the finale of his 20-year career.

Stover will retire as the Ravens’ career scoring leader with 1,464 points. He set a career high in 2000 with 135 points for Baltimore’s Super Bowl champion team.  Stover was 354 for 418 on field goal attempts and missed only one conversion in 403 tries.

Does Stover belong in the Hall of Fame?  Many believe so.  He has the longevity, the records and numbers.  He has the championship and the class.  Overall the Hall could do worse.

Matt Stover is leaving the NFL at a time when the league needs players like him.

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