Punter Tim Masthay's big payday came just two years after giving the NFL one last shot.
By PAUL IMIGFS Wisconsin
GREEN BAY, Wis. — This was it. One more try. One last attempt at making it in the NFL. For punter
Tim Masthay, if he didn't stick in Green Bay after signing with the
Packers in 2010, he was planning to put an end to his short-lived professional football career and figure out what career path to try next.
Two years later, while continuing to punt with great success in Green Bay, Masthay won't need to worry about the next step in his life anytime soon after signing a lucrative contract extension with the Packers worth more than $5.4 million over the next four seasons.
"In my mind, I was kind of thinking, 'I'm giving it this full go right here, and if I make it, awesome; if not, I'll move on,'" Masthay said.
Masthay began his NFL career with the Indianapolis Colts in 2009 after going undrafted out of the University of Kentucky. While trying to make the Colts roster, Masthay got married. But less than a month after his nuptials, he was waived by Indianapolis.
Without any offers on the table from teams seeking his punting services, Masthay looked for other work. He spent 25 hours each week tutoring student-athletes at his alma mater and accepted an internship on the U.S. Senate campaign of Trey Grayson, who would eventually lose the race.
But Masthay also continued training during that time with the hope of getting another shot with an NFL team.
"I trained a lot," Masthay said. "I trained six days a week, sometimes seven, which is really too much. I was over-training a little bit. I was going six days a week faithfully, punting about three times a week faithfully."
Masthay didn't have a punting coach to train with, so the work he put in to improve his game was all by himself. In addition to punting drills, he would go through lifting, running and flexibility exercises.
"I believed I had the leg," Masthay said. "That's what encouraged me to keep working at it. My coaches in college always encouraged me that way, and they were knowledgeable guys. They had been coaches in the NFL. I had done well at the (NFL) Combine and stuff, so I competed with guys that were playing in the league that year. So I knew I had the leg.
"I wasn't positive whether or not I'd be able to fine-tune everything to be consistent enough to be in the league."
Masthay was given another chance to prove he was good enough to make it in the NFL when the Packers, fresh off a disastrous 2009 season by punter Jeremy Kapinos, made it an open competition in training camp. Masthay was signed to battle it out with Australian punter Chris Bryan, with Masthay ultimately winning the job.
"I knew they weren't signing me off the street to come in and be the starter flat out," Masthay said. "I knew that was going to be a slugfest. I had prepared myself for it."
Masthay's rookie season ended as well as any player could ever hope for, with Green Bay winning the Super Bowl.
But had Bryan beat him out and been the Packers' punter, Masthay isn't sure what he'd be doing right now instead.
"I might've gone back to grad school," said Masthay, whose undergraduate degree is in economics. "I love sports, so I may have tried to get a job in sports somewhere. I'm not really sure. I'm happy to be doing this."
Masthay no longer has to win any competitions in training camp to earn a spot as he is the only punter on Green Bay's roster this season. And with his new contract now signed, Masthay will be punting for the Packers until at least 2016, and will be paid well to do so.
"Playing in the NFL is a, I'm trying to think how I want to say it, financially you can't have any complaints playing in the NFL," Masthay said. "It is certainly a lucrative business, no question about that. We have the fan support that enables us to be able to make the money we're able to make playing a game. It's really a cool thing.
"It's short-lived, very few guys play a long time, but it's pretty awesome while it lasts."
Punting for the NFL's highest-scoring team also means not being on the field very often. Masthay punted only 55 times last season, which was the third-fewest in the league.
If Masthay continues to average 55 punts each season throughout the rest of his contract, he'll earn $20,000 per in-game attempt.
But he's not spending that money on any high-priced items for himself or his wife.
"One of the coolest things I got to do already was open up a college account for my little baby daughter," Masthay said. "I put a significant amount in there that will hopefully secure her college pretty much wherever she wants to go.
"My wife and I are kind of savers. I anticipate saving the vast majority of it."