Here Are 5 Incredible Black NFL Kickers in the Sport’s History

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The absence of Black NFL kickers has made the game an all-white affair. The small number of players of African descent in the game hasn’t changed much.

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Besides racial discrimination, which makes this position seem like a white man’s role, its little importance or lack thereof is another reason people believe has led to this disparity. In this post, we’ll list the five black kickers who’ve featured in the NFL.

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Eugene Mingo

Highlights of Eugene Mingo. Video Credit: Denver Broncos

Fondly referred to as Gene Mingo, he’s believed to be the first African-American kicker in the NFL. His NFL career began at the Denver Broncos where he spent four seasons. What’s interesting is that the Broncos signed him despite not playing college football. 

He helped the team make history when his kick ended in a touchdown that won the team the first-ever American Football League game. Mingo was the first player to score points in the Mile High Stadium. 

In that year, he was the rookie scoring leader in the league and was also an AFL All-Star twice. After leaving the Broncos, Mingo represented:

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Obed Ariri

Highlights of Obed Ariri. Video Credit: The Tiger Pregame Show

Obed’s time in the NFL was full of ups and downs. He began his career as a soccer player in Nigeria before he received a scholarship to play in the United States. 

While at Clemson College, the NFL team needed a kicker and that’s how he ended up playing football. 

He became a fan favorite on campus and some of his schoolmates wanted him to receive the Heisman Trophy. He didn’t get it but was drafted into the NFL in 1981 as a seventh pick for the Baltimore Colts. 

Unfortunately, the team cut him off after 10 days. Ariri joined the Washington Federals and then rejoined the NFL as a Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but was released after the season ended and moved to the Washington Redskins.

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Donald Igwebuike

Donald Igwebuike’s highlights. Video Credit: WhoWhat

The Nigerian joins the list of black NFL kickers having played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Minnesota Vikings. The Buccaneers drafted him in 1985 as a 10th pick. 

Igwebuike who kicked barefoot ranks 7th in Buccaneer’s all-time points list with 416. Other teams he played for include the Tampa Bay Storm, the Baltimore Stallions, and the Memphis Mad Dogs. 

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Cedric Oglesby  

Cedric Oglesby’s NFL career lasted only for one season. He enjoyed a good college career, earning a place in the All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference twice after registering high scores and ranking first on the team. 

Oglesby then featured in McDonald’s Heritage Bowl, where he got a record for the best punt average. There was no stopping him as he recorded the highest number of field goals in his school with 11. 

Despite his stellar college career, Oglesby went undrafted in 2000 but was signed by the Dallas Cowboys. However, he was released in the same season and he went on to play for the San Diego Chargers and the Arizona Cardinals. 

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Justin Medlock

Here Are 5 Incredible Black NFL Kickers in the Sport’s History
Justin Medlock with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2017. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-4.0

Justin Medlock is one of the few black NFL kickers in the game. His performance in high school and college, where he earned recognition for his game, resulted in being a fifth-round pick in 2007 for the Kansas City Chiefs

However, his time with the Chiefs was short-lived as the team released him at the end of the season. The kicker joined the St. Louis Rams, another brief stint, and then moved back and forth between NFL teams and teams outside the league. 

The last NFL team he played for was the Carolina Panthers in 2012. By this time, Medlock had scored eight field goals and made 12 attempts. 

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These are the best black NFL kickers who’ve shown that players of color can successfully occupy this position. In a league that’s dominated by black players, the lack of black kickers is surprising and needs to change.

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