On Saturday, the Kansas City Chiefs welcomed fans into Arrowhead Stadium to watch practice. This came to the delight of Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, who has always expressed that the presence of fans gives him a boost.
“I kind of thrive off of the pressure and the adrenaline that I start to feel,” Butker told reporters following Saturday’s practice. “Going out there and seeing all 2,000 fans, I think it added some juice to my field goals, and I was able to hit some longer field goals that we haven’t really been attempting in practice lately.”
He wasn’t kidding about the longer kicks. Butker used the adrenaline rush to test his limits — and came away with an impressive result.
“Warming up, I thought around 55-58 yards is where I can just do my normal swing, obviously that was in the very beginning of practice,” Butker began. “As practice moved on, I kept dialing it in, finding the sweet spot. Then in the period, we made a 62-yarder, and the 69-yarder bounced off the crossbar.”
The longest-made field goal in NFL history was 64 yards. Butker looks to be flirting with that all-time record, and that’s no surprise to him. The fourth-year kicker focused on extending his range this offseason.
First, he worked on his physical fitness.
“I dialed in this offseason,” Butker stated. “I just felt like, ‘What are things I can do to get stronger, get quicker, and hit further balls?’ I was thinking about soccer players like Cristiano Ronaldo, they’re very low body fat and that’s one area that I could get better at. I started eating more meals, eating smaller quantities, so I definitely brought my weight down, I feel stronger and faster than I’ve ever been.”
He also relied on the advice of other NFL kickers and punters. Similar to how the league’s offensive linemen get together to work on techniques and give each other advice, Butker has been working with his counterparts across the NFL every offseason.
This summer, one veteran punter gave Butker advice that he has really embraced.
“Thomas Morstead — punter for the [New Orleans] Saints — had a video talking to some younger kickers and punters,” Butker revealed. “He said ‘if you want to kick the ball far, you have to go out and try to kick the ball far.’ So instead of staying within 53 yards, I started backing it up. I posted a video of a 77-yarder and a 72-yarder... I think when you can make those kicks, the shorter kicks like a 50-yarder, those seem really short.”
All that being said, kicking further was not the only thing Butker had to focus on this offseason. Long-time Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt was released in April after being the holder for every single one of Butker’s career field goal and extra point attempts.
After working with two different holders throughout the summer, the Chiefs narrowed it down to one: former Florida punter Tommy Townsend. The rookie has been trusted to be the team’s punter and placekicking holder, and it’s going well so far.
“[Townsend] is doing a really good job of holding the ball,” Butker admitted. “He’s getting the ball down really fast, I’m able to see it, and we have really good operation times. He’s learning as much as he can right now and I’m trying to take him under my wing a little bit, show him the ropes since he is the only punter on the roster and he’s just kind of learning as he goes.
“We are getting a lot of reps together, a lot of chemistry, so I am really happy about that. Being able to have him as the guy and keep working day after day.”
Every season of Butker’s career, he has been able to beat his personal-best for longest field goal. The mark is now set at 56 yards — but don’t be surprised if he is trusted to attempt a kick of 60 or more yards at some point this season.
If that attempt happens to be in front of fans at Arrowhead Stadium, that stands to only increase the chances of him making it.