- Associated Press - Saturday, February 4, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Call them accidental Superheroes in the making. Or, if they miss, Super-something-elses.

Both Super Bowl kickers have taken uncommon paths to the title game, essentially stumbling into a job that often decides titles and legacies for better or worse. New York’s Lawrence Tynes and New England’s Stephen Gostkowski know one of them could be the first player celebrating _ or bending over in angst _ in the final seconds Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

It comes with a job that neither aspired to while growing up.

Tynes joined his high school football team so he could hang around with his friends. Gostkowski went to college on a baseball scholarship, someone who could throw the fastball by `em.


Win a Super Bowl? Wasn’t in their plans.

Now, they’ve got a chance for one of the ultimate thrills in sports _ kick it through the uprights and go wild with more than 100 million people watching.

“They’re like walk-off homers,” Tynes said. “Those are fun, that’s the only word to describe it. You get to turn around and see 52 grown men acting like kids again. That’s the best part.”

Miss it? Well, that’s something entirely else. For the two kickers, there’s no hiding in this game.

Fair or not, reputations are made or broken with one swing of the leg when everything’s on the line. Scott Norwood’s long miss brought Buffalo a heartbreak. On the other side, Adam Vinatieri became the Super Bowl standard for clutch kicking by making two game winners with the Patriots.

Like basketball players who dream of hitting the winning shot for the NBA title or baseball players who pretend they’re at bat with two outs in the ninth and the bases loaded in Game 7 of the World Series, kickers grow up pretending they’re lining up in the final seconds of the Super Bowl.

Those daydream moments become sort of otherworldly when they come true.

“You’re never going to get it out of your mind completely,” Vinatieri said this week, after making some kicks at an NFL fan event in town. “I’m sure when I was out there on the Super Bowl kicks, my heart was racing.”

Tynes and Gostkowski didn’t aspire to the heart-pounding role when they were growing up.

Tynes is the NFL’s first Scottish-born player, his father a U.S. Navy officer who met his mother abroad. They moved to Florida when he was 11 years old. Football wasn’t appealing, with all the bashing and bruising.

In the 11th grade, his team needed a kicker. A coach urged him to try out, knowing he was a good soccer player.

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