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Sav Rocca

Rocca during a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in August 2009.
No. 6     Philadelphia Eagles
Punter
Personal information
Date of birth: November 20, 1973 (1973-11-20) (age 36)
Place of birth: Melbourne, Australia
Height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) Weight: 265 lb (120 kg)
Career information
Debuted in 2007 for the Philadelphia Eagles
Career history
 As player:
Career highlights and awards
  • NFL record for oldest Rookie
Career NFL statistics as of Week 12, 2009
Punts     203
Punt yards     8,603
Punting Yard Average     42.4
Stats at NFL.com
Saverio Rocca
Personal information
Birth 20 November 1973 (1973-11-20) (age 36)Melbourne, Victoria
Recruited from North Reservoir-Lakeside
Playing career┬╣
Debut Round 14, 21 June 1992, Collingwood vs. Footscray, at Melbourne Cricket Ground
Team(s) Collingwood (1992-2000)

Kangaroos (2001-2006)

257 Games, 748 Goals

┬╣ Statistics to end of 2006 season
Career highlights

Saverio "Sav" Giovanni Rocca (born November 20, 1973 in Melbourne, Australia) is a punter for the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League and former Australian rules footballer for the Collingwood and North Melbourne Football Clubs in the Australian Football League.

He is one of the few players who have converted from professional Australian rules football to professional American Football. During his time in the Australian Football League, he became one of the most successful goalkickers in the history of the competition. In a career which spanned 14 years he ranked 13th in the AFL all-time goalkicking records. While he averaged just under 3 goals a game, he was noted more for his ability to kick accurately from great distances which ultimately led to his trial for the Eagles.

Saverio is the older brother of Anthony Rocca and for a brief time in their careers, they both played for Collingwood, combining at centre half and full-forward. Anthony has also stated that he wishes to follow his brother into the NFL as a punter.[1]

When he converted to American Football he made the history books as the oldest rookie in the history of the NFL, taking the mantle from fellow Australian Ben Graham.[2]

Contents

Early life

Rocca was born in Melbourne to Italian parents. He began his sporting life in athletics, coached by George Bertolacci he was a junior champion in shotput and also the discus.

Rocca decided to focus on Australian rules and after several seasons playing for Reservoir-Lakeside Football Club in the Diamond Valley Football League, his goalkicking talent became obvious.

AFL career

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Collingwood

Rocca joined Collingwood in 1991, the last year that allowed zoned players to avoid the draft process.[3] He was a strong full-forward with a huge kick, showing true signs as a key player to the Magpies in his debut season of 1992. In 1993 however, he quickly got the attention from the crowds, kicking 73 goals including two hauls of 10 goals in a matter of 3 weeks, and the following season 49 goals.

A huge kick, he could kick the ball dead straight over 60 metres - a spectacular sight for Magpies fans. In 1995 he had his best season, almost getting 100 goals, falling short with 93 in only 21 games. He played a massive game in the traditional ANZAC Day clash, kicking 9 goals, and he bagged another 10 goals weeks later against the Crows. He also won the best and fairest award. He continued to show he was a strong full-forward and always at the top in what seemed a disappointing side when it came to the ladder, he kicked bags of 66, 76 and 68 in the next 3 seasons, with him coming second in the Coleman Medal for 1997 behind Tony Modra.

His form however slipped, kicking only 60 goals in the next two seasons, despite winning his 7th consecutive leading goalkicker award in 1999 with only 33 goals, he was delisted after more than 150 games and over 500 goals for the club.

North Melbourne

Saverio rocca.jpg

After being delisted by Collingwood, he was drafted to North Melbourne with the 30th selection in the 2000 AFL Draft. He was successful kicking 98 goals in his first two seasons, enough to be the Roos leading goalkicker on each occasion. His form once again slipped over the years, but he was still a key member when needed, he has kicked his 700th goal in 2005, and set to play game 250.

2006 season

During the 2006 season, Rocca was overlooked for selection by coach Dean Laidley for many Kangaroos games despite admirable form, including a bag of 6 goals in a 77-point loss to Collingwood where he was one of the few players to put in a solid performance.

He was given little game time and was dropped after Round 5, where he returned to the VFL with North Ballarat. In his first game with the Roosters he booted 7 goals straight, but was again left out of the senior Kangaroo side.

Rocca sustained a hamstring injury in round 10 of the VFL. In his 6 VFL games up to that time, he had averaged 4.83 goals.

At 32 and under contract until the end of the season, Rocca seemed close to retirement from the AFL. In preparation for a continued professional sporting career, he began training as an NFL punter, appearing in a video shot at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne showing his immense kicking range to talent scouts. Rocca remained at the Kangaroos to reach the 100 game milestone so that the father-son rule applies for his family.[4]

In an emotional farewell in the Round 22 match against his old club Collingwood, Rocca booted 3 goals. Wasting no time, he left for the United States on a trial as a gridiron punter with the Philadelphia Eagles the following Tuesday.[5]

NFL career

Rocca had tried out for the Buffalo Bills in 2006 but was not invited to training camp. Philadelphia, looking to provide some competition for Dirk Johnson signed Rocca for the 2007 training camp.

In the Eagles preseason, Rocca had several punts of over 50 yards and another that went over 65 yards. On the 65-yard punt, Antwan Barnes of the Baltimore Ravens levelled Rocca, knocking off his helmet. While officials did not penalize Barnes during the game, the league fined him US$12,500 for the hit.[6]

Rocca was also favored over Johnson by placekicker David Akers as his holder for place kicks. He was not perfect, however, mishandling a snap on one attempt and failing to handle a poor snap on a second attempt in a game against the New York Jets,[7]

On the final day of cuts, Rocca learned that he had won the job when Johnson was released.[8]

Rocca averaged 42 yards per punt during his first NFL season in 2007.[9]

Rocca, at 33 years of age, was the oldest rookie in NFL history, a title which previously belonged to another Australian born Punter, Ben Graham who, at the time, played for the Jets at age 31.

Rocca on the field prior to a game against the San Francisco 49ers on October 12, 2008

Rocca was named NFL special-teams Player-of-the-Month for September, 2008, leading the league with a 44.1-yard net punting average and having seven punts downed inside the 20-yard-line.[10]

Family

Rocca resides in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey during the season and Preston, Australia in the off-season with his wife Rose, and sons Matthew and Lucas. Rose works as a nutritionist.[11]

References

External links

See also

Preceded by
Gavin Brown, Nathan Buckley
Copeland Trophy winner
1995
Succeeded by
Nathan Buckley
Preceded by
Dirk Johnson
Philadelphia Eagles Punters
2007-present
Succeeded by
present

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