Colts K Stover prepares to face former team
Matt Stover's three children might have some explaining to do at school next week.
The Indianapolis Colts kicker is an ex-Baltimore Raven who decided to keep his family in Baltimore, even after the Ravens chose not to re-sign him this past offseason.
Now, Stover will kick for the Colts in an AFC divisional playoff game on Saturday night, and he could be called upon to end the Ravens' season.
Stover went back to see his family in Baltimore last weekend and was there when the Ravens beat New England. He stayed long enough to get some ribbing from his friends.
``They say 'Matt, we'll pray for you and your success, but I don't know about your team,''' he said. ``I say 'Thanks, but I'm praying for my team, too.'''
Stover said playing the Ravens is special.
``It's always going to be different,'' he said. ``It's kind of like playing against some of your friends. That's what you're doing because I know the majority of those guys in the locker room, even though there's been some turnover.''
Stover went to Baltimore in 1996, and he handled every important field-goal attempt for the Ravens for 13 years. But after Stover began losing distance on his kickoffs and long field-goal tries, Baltimore signed Steve Hauschka last season. During the offseason, Baltimore did not renew Stover's contract.
Stover said he has no problem with Baltimore's decision.
``There's no bitterness from me, there's no issues from me,'' he said. ``I understand it. I really feel like it all happened for a reason.''
At kickoff, he will be focused only on the Colts.
``The one thing you do learn in the NFL, for those three hours, it doesn't matter,'' he said. ``You don't even look at the logo on the helmet. You're there to win the game.''
Stover didn't move his family because he didn't want to take his children out of their school. He said coach Jim Caldwell has been understanding of his living situation, and has allotted him time to travel back and forth.
``Coach Caldwell has been very gracious with me,'' he said. ``I was able to head home after every game. That started on Sunday night, and I came back on Tuesday night.''
Caldwell plans to use Stover during the playoffs instead of Adam Vinatieri, a four-time Super Bowl winner. Caldwell said last week that Vinatieri had not fully recovered from midseason surgery on his kicking knee, and that Stover had done a ``great job'' since joining the team in October.
Stover said Vinatieri handled the decision like a professional.
``Adam and I are good friends,'' he said. ``We respect one another, we understand the situation at hand. He knew that I wanted to come here and help this team get to the Super Bowl. We get the situation we're in, and hopefully, I'll be able to produce a great product out there to help this team catapult itself into the Super Bowl.''
Stover won a Super Bowl ring with Baltimore in 2000 and ranks No. 4 among kickers with 2,004 career points. Vinatieri has 1,528 points, and both he and Stover rank among the top 15 in field goals made.
Stover has made all 33 of his extra points and nine of 11 field-goal attempts this season. One of his biggest kicks was a 25-yard field goal that provided the winning points in a 17-15 win over Baltimore.
Now, Stover has a chance to add to that impressive resume, and he feels as if he's been put in the right place at the right time to do it.
``I really feel like I had a calling to come here,'' he said.