KEY POINTS

  • Sam Koch helped revoltuionize the punting game thanks to his many innovations
  • The Ravens drafted his replacement, Jordan Stout, in the 2022 NFL draft
  • Koch retires from the game with one Super Bowl title to his name

Baltimore Ravens fans had a feeling that the writing was on the wall for 16-year veteran punter Sam Koch when the team selected Penn State’s Jordan Stout with the 130th overall pick in the recently-concluded draft.

Koch, 40, made the announcement to retire in a special video put together by the Ravens’ social media team and later had a press conference that left his teammates, friends and family all shedding a tear out of their sheer appreciation for him.

In the NFL, a punter’s job is usually overlooked by many since casual fans do not understand the sheer importance of their role because all they do is kick a football on fourth down.

“Punting is so monotonous. Everybody just hits a turnover ball. A turnover ball is just a spiral. It just looks like [then Ravens quarterback Joe] Flacco throwing a spiral,” as Koch mentioned in a 2016 video produced by the NFL.

However, the Nebraska native proved that there is a lot more skill and technique involved in it.

Similar to its baseball counterpart, a knuckleball in football is simply a way to let the ball fly with the most minimal spin possible in order to cause an erratic and unpredictable motion.

“Each returner has to think about it when they go to approach it. They’re going to have to decide whether to go for this and risk a fumble or muff and my stats or do they just let it bounce and then we have an opportunity to down it inside the 20 [yard line],” Koch explained.

Koch went on to mention some of the punts that he had in his arsenal such as the turnovers, liners, hooks and boomerangs, but did not fully explain all of them as they were understandably trade secrets.

Making the comparison between himself and a golfer, Koch also talked about the fade punt wherein the ball would curve in the air from right to left and the opposite direction being a draw.

“We can hit a fade but then cause the ball to come back down and run away from the returner.”

Koch later revealed that it was due to the explosiveness of then Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown that led him to creating multiple punting options.

“We’ve got to find another way other than giving it to Antonio Brown. We’ve got to find ways to keep it away from Antonio Brown. Make him feel uncomfortable back there and giving them something other than just sitting underneath the ball, camping out and catching it,” he bared.

Koch’s contributions to the art of punting saw him take home his lone All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections in 2015 plus his game-winning safety in the dying seconds of Super Bowl 47 in 2012 against the San Francisco 49ers.

However, Koch will remain with the Ravens as a special teams consultant to help in speeding up the development of Stout as the franchise will be sorely missing his contributions both on and off the field.