Don Bracken

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Don Bracken
No. 17
Position: Punter
Personal information
Date of birth: (1962-02-16)February 16, 1962
Place of birth: Coalinga, California
Date of death: October 29, 2014(2014-10-29) (aged 52)
Place of death: Billings, Montana
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight: 214 lb (97 kg)
Career information
High school: Thermopolis (WY) Hot Springs County
College: Michigan
Undrafted: 1984
Career history
Career NFL statistics
Punts: 461
Average punt: 39.9
Player stats at NFL.com

Donald Craig "Don" Bracken (February 16, 1962 – October 29, 2014) was an American football punter.

After playing high school football in Thermopolis, Wyoming, Bracken played college football for the University of Michigan from 1980 to 1983. As a freshman, he set a Rose Bowl record that is still unbroken with a 73-yard punt in the 1981 Rose Bowl.

Bracken played professional football in the National Football League (NFL) for the Green Bay Packers (1985-1990) and Los Angeles Rams (1992-1993). In 1987, he ranked third in the NFL in both number of punts (72) and punting yardage (2,947). In eight NFL seasons, Bracken appeared in 99 NFL games and punted 461 times for 18,375 yards, an average of 39.9 yards per punt.

Early years[edit]

Don Bracken was born in Coalinga in Fresno County, California, in 1962.[1] He moved with his family to Thermopolis, Wyoming, while in middle school.[2] He attended Thermopolis High School where he was a member of the National Honor Society. He was also the punter for the school's football team, averaging 46.7 yards per punt.[3]

University of Michigan[edit]

Don Bracken enrolled at the University of Michigan in 1980. He was the punter for Bo Schembechler's Michigan Wolverines football team from 1980 to 1983. In his first appearance at Michigan Stadium, before a crowd more than 20 times larger than the population of his home town, Bracken's first punt traveled 47 yards.[3] At the end of his freshman year, Bracken booted a Rose Bowl record 73-yard punt in the Wolverines' 23-6 victory over Washington in the 1981 Rose Bowl.[4] In four years at Michigan, Bracken averaged 40.8 yards per punt,[5] a school record that was later surpassed by Monte Robbins.

Professional football[edit]

After graduating from Michigan, Bracken signed with the Michigan Panthers of the United States Football League (USFL), but he was cut due to an injured knee.[6] In the spring of 1984, he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, but he failed a physical due to tendinitis in his knee.[4] He next signed with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos during the 1984 preseason, but was released by both clubs.[4]

Bracken ultimately signed with the Green Bay Packers in November 1985.[4] He spent six seasons with the Packers from 1985 to 1990. In 1987, Bracken ranked third in the NFL in both number of punts (72) and punting yardage (2,947). In six seasons with the Packers, Bracken punted 368 times for 14,602 yards, an average of 39.7 yards per punt.[1]

Bracken was released by the Packers in August 1991 and did not play during the 1991 NFL season.[7]

In April 1992, Bracken signed with the Los Angeles Rams. In his NFL comeback, Bracken punted 76 times for the Rams during the 1992 NFL season, averaging a career-high 41.1 yards per punt.[1] He returned to the Rams in 1993, but he averaged only 38.3 yards, lowest in the NFL, in 17 punts in first three games of the 1993 NFL season.[1] He was released by the Rams in late September 1993 and replaced by Paul McJulien.[8]

In eight NFL seasons, Bracken appeared in 99 NFL games and punted 461 times for 18,375 yards, an average of 39.9 yards per punt.[1]

Family and later years[edit]

Bracken was married in 1990 to Mary Laurie Masucci. They had two daughters, Mary Katherine and Melissa. Bracken and his wife later divorced. After living for a time in Arizona, Bracken returned to Thermopolis, Wyoming, in 2009 where he worked for Atlas Roofing. He died in October 2014 in Billings, Montana, after contracting Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).[9] He was buried at Monument Hill Cemetery, Thermopolis.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Don Bracken". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Don Bracken obituary". Mortimore Funeral Home. Retrieved March 17, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Harry Atkins (September 16, 1980). "Bo's Punter Found at Camp". The Argus-Press (AP story). p. 16. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Pack signs ex-Michigan punter/". The Milwaukee Sentinel. November 7, 1985. p. 2-1. 
  5. ^ "'M' kickers aim for record books". The Michigan Daily. September 10, 1987. 
  6. ^ "Punter Bracken part of the Pack". The Michigan Daily. November 16, 1988. p. 7. 
  7. ^ "Bracken surfaces with Rams". The Milwaukee Journal. April 21, 1992. p. C2. 
  8. ^ "Rams give Lofton another shot; L.A. also cuts Bracken, picks up McJulien". The Milwaukee Journal. September 23, 1993. 
  9. ^ "Former Thermopolis native, NFL punter, Don Bracken dies". Casper Star-Tribune. October 30, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Donald Craig "Don" Bracken". Find-a-Grave. Retrieved March 17, 2015.