Saints kicker Garrett Hartleyentrenched himself into Saints lore on Jan. 24 when he kicked the game-winning kick in the NFC Championship game to send the Saints to their first Super Bowl. He also became the first kicker to connect on three kicks of over thirty yards or more in a Super Bowl. He started his career hitting his first 16 field goal attempts, an NFL record.
Hartley talked to NewOrleansSaints.com about "the kick", text messages, wearing two different cleats and a NFL record he didn't know he had.
Q: Was there a moment where you realized the impact your game-winning kick in the NFC Championship had?
GH: "It took a while for everything to set in and realize what we accomplished. I was on the Sean Payton Show about a week later and at that point I hadn't heard the radio call of the kick. They set it up for me and it made it hit home for me with what it meant. I am grateful for the opportunity the team put me in."
(The Saints Radio call: "It's Good! It's Good! It's Good! Ha...Ha! Pigs have flown! Hell has frozen over! The Saints are on their way to the Super Bowl," yelled Saints radio play-by-play announcer Jim Henderson)
Q: Going back to that kick, many fans have seen the NFL Films footage of head coach Sean Paytongiving you words of encouragement right before that kick. What did it mean to you to have your coach encourage you like that right before such a big moment?
GH: "Knowing that Coach was behind me and trusted me meant a lot. I am just glad that things worked out in my favor."
Q: How many text messages did you receive after that game?
"About 75-80. There were some numbers I had never seen before. It just took me a while to get back to everybody because of everything that happened. I kind of felt bad but my phone was just blowing up with people wanting to tell me congrats. I wanted to spend time with my family and friends at the stadium so I couldn't get back to everybody."
Q: What is the most random place you have been recognized?
GH: "I was out in Los Angeles at the airport for the ESPYs and a couple of Saints fans spotted me."
Q: You opened your career making your first 16 field goals, which is an NFL record for consecutive field goals to start a career. What would you say is the key for a kicker to be consistent?
"Was it really? I guess it's just believing in my abilities and knowing I got to this level for a reason. It's about trusting yourself and knowing why you are out there."
Q: What is the reasoning behind wearing two different types of cleats when you play?
"I trim the studs on my right cleat a little bit so there is less friction when I kick. It makes it a quicker motion."
Q: Do you handle training camp differently knowing you are the only kicker in camp?
"I know there are only 32 teams in the league and that means only 32 kickers. I know nothing is guaranteed and I still have to compete for my job. Just because someone isn't here today doesn't mean they won't be tomorrow."