Sav Rocca

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Sav Rocca
Sav rocca redskins.jpg
Rocca at Redskins training camp in 2012.
No. --     Free Agent
Punter
Personal information
Date of birth: (1973-11-20) November 20, 1973 (age 41)
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
Career highlights and awards
  • NFL record for oldest rookie (33 years old)
Career NFL statistics
Punts 517
Punt yards 22,169
Punting yard average 42.9
Stats at NFL.com
Saverio Rocca
Personal information
Original team Reservoir-Lakeside
Debut Round 14, 1992, Collingwood
v. Footscray, at the MCG
Playing career1
Years Club Games (Goals)
1992–2000
2001–2006
Total -
Collingwood
Kangaroos
156 (514)
101 (234)
257 (748)
1 Playing statistics correct to end of 2006 season.
Career highlights

Saverio Giovanni "Sav" Rocca (born November 20, 1973) is an Australian born American football punter who is currently a free agent. He made his NFL debut playing for the Philadelphia Eagles. Prior to joining the NFL, Rocca was an Australian rules footballer for Collingwood and North Melbourne in the Australian Football League (AFL).

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 three 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.

When he converted to American football, he made history as the oldest rookie in the history of the NFL, taking the mantle from fellow Australian Ben Graham.[1]

Early life[edit]

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 shot put 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[edit]

Collingwood[edit]

Rocca joined Collingwood in 1991, the last year that allowed zoned players to avoid the draft process.[2] 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, he quickly got the attention from the crowds, kicking 73 goals including two hauls of ten goals in a matter of three weeks. In 1994, he kicked 49 goals.

A huge kick, he could kick the ball dead straight over 60 metres. In 1995, he had his best season, almost getting 100 goals, falling short with 93 in 21 games. He played what he later considered the best game of his career in the inaugural Anzac Day clash between Collingwood and Essendon, kicking nine goals; he was later retrospectively awarded an Anzac Medal for his best on ground performance.[3] He won the Collingwood best and fairest award that year. 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 three seasons. He placed second for 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[edit]

Rocca while he played for the North Melbourne Kangaroos

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

During the 2006 season, Rocca was dropped to the VFL, playing games with North Ballarat. 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 American football punter, appearing in a video shot at Docklands Stadium in Melbourne showing his significant 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 sons.[4] He played his farewell game in the Round 22 match against his old club Collingwood, Rocca kicked three goals.

Wasting no time, he left for the United States on a trial as a gridiron punter with the Philadelphia Eagles the following week.[5]

NFL career[edit]

Philadelphia Eagles[edit]

While on the Eagles, Rocca at a 2009 preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

2007[edit]

Rocca had tried out for the Buffalo Bills in 2006 but was not invited to training camp. The Philadelphia Eagles, 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.

2008[edit]

Rocca was named the 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]

2010[edit]

On April 22, 2010, Rocca signed his one-year restricted free agent tender with the Eagles.[11]

Washington Redskins[edit]

2011 Season[edit]

Rocca was signed by the Washington Redskins on July 29, 2011.[12] He was considered one of the Redskins best free agency signings for the 2011 season due to the massive improvement he was from the several punters the team had in the 2010 season, which included Sam Paulescu, Josh Bidwell, and Hunter Smith.[13] In Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals, with ten seconds left in the game, Rocca made an impressive tackle on Patrick Peterson, who attempted to make a punt return.[14]

2012 Season[edit]

On October 29, 2012, it was reported that Rocca had been playing with a torn meniscus in his kicking leg for the last two games and the Redskins planned to keep using him despite the injury.[15]

2013 Season[edit]

Rocca agreed to re-sign with the Redskins on a two-year contract on the first day of free agency for the 2013 season.[16] The new deal was finalized on March 18, 2013.[17] He was released after the season on March 4, 2014.[18]

Personal[edit]

Rocca resides in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey during the season and Preston, Victoria in the off-season with his wife and three sons.[19]

His brother is Anthony Rocca. For a brief time in their careers they both played for Collingwood, combining at centre half and full-forward.[20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Eagles take a punt on Rocca". FOX SPORTS Australia. September 1, 2007. 
  2. ^ Lovett, Michael, ed. (2005). AFL Record 2005 Guide to Season. p. 335. ISBN 0-9580300-6-5. 
  3. ^ Mike Sheahan (20 April 2011). "Sav Rocca boots nine goals in a great Anzac Day clash". Herald Sun (Melbourne, VIC). Retrieved 23 November 2014. 
  4. ^ "US punt keeps Roos' Rocca fully focused". The Age. 29 August 2006. 
  5. ^ "Blinq". Blogs.philly.com. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  6. ^ "Ravens rookie Barnes fined for big hit against Eagles". Carroll County (Maryland) Times. 2007-08-24. 
  7. ^ "Laces Out". The News Journal (Wilmington, Delaware). 2007-08-31. 
  8. ^ "It's official: Johnson, Bloom among cuts". Philadelphia Inquirer. 2007-09-02. 
  9. ^ "Saverio Rocca NFL career statistics". ESPN. 
  10. ^ "Eagles Notes: Westbrook takes a few more steps; Rocca named ST Player of the Month". Philadelphia Inquirer. 2008-10-03. 
  11. ^ "Rocca re-signs with Eagles". ESPN.com. April 22, 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-22. 
  12. ^ http://washington.cbslocal.com/2011/07/28/redskins-to-sign-sav-rocca/
  13. ^ Campbell, Rich (November 24, 2011). "Sav Rocca erased Redskins’ punting woes from last season". WashingtonTimes.com. Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  14. ^ Svrluga, Barry (September 18, 2011). "Redskins punter Sav Rocca has no problem tackling". WashingtonPost.com. Retrieved 2012-09-18. 
  15. ^ El-Bashir, Tarik (October 29, 2012). "Sav Rocca punting despite torn meniscus". CSNWashington.com. Retrieved 2012-10-30. 
  16. ^ Jones, Mike (March 12, 2013). "Redskins bringing back punter Sav Rocca". WashingtonPost.com. Retrieved 2013-03-12. 
  17. ^ Tinsman, Brian (March 18, 2013). "Redskins Finalize Deal With Sav Rocca". Redskins.com. Retrieved 2013-03-18. 
  18. ^ Jones, Mike. "Redskins part ways with Adam Carriker, Sav Rocca, three others". Washington Post. Retrieved 4 March 2014. 
  19. ^ "Player Bio". Philadelphia Eagles. 2007-05-21. Retrieved 2010-09-23. 
  20. ^ "Rocca to follow Saverio to NFL". AFL.com.au. 2009-09-21. 

External links[edit]

Awards
Preceded by
Gavin Brown, Nathan Buckley
Copeland Trophy winner
1995
Succeeded by
Nathan Buckley
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Dirk Johnson
Philadelphia Eagles punters
2007–2010
Succeeded by
Chas Henry
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Hunter Smith
Washington Redskins punters
2011–2013
Succeeded by