In a recent live chat on Buffalo’s Facebook page, Bills kicker
Here’s what we learned about the newest member of Buffalo’s special teams unit:
1. Free agency & relocation = rookie season déjà vu
For NFL fans everywhere, free agency is an exciting time dedicated to keeping up on the latest news happening around the league. But what fans don’t always think about, is how free agency impacts the players who’ve found themselves on the market.
To put it in a familiar perspective, I challenge you to channel your inner freshman and try to remember the uneasiness you felt on the first day of high school.
Or, to make my point, let’s keep it in football terms – free agency can leave a player feeling like a rookie again.
“I felt like a rookie all over again,” explained Hauschka when reflecting on the first day of voluntary offseason conditioning. “As a player when it’s your life that’s been on the line basically, you really don’t know what’s going to happen before free agency. And all of a sudden, just like that, with a few phone calls, you’re moving across the country to a new team, leaving all of these friends and leaving behind these relationships that you’ve made over six years…it’s so quick. Now you’re on a new team and you have to embrace that, meet everybody, but really just dive in head first. It’s a lot…but I’m lovin’ it.”
2. Steven or Stephen?
After years of going by “Steven” on NFL rosters, Hauschka has finally shed light on the correct spelling of his first name. Proclaiming himself “Stephen,” Hauschka provided fans with some much needed background information on how the great name debate came about in the first place.
“A long time ago, I played Division III football in college and then I went to NC State as a walk on...and they spelled my name with a ‘v’ there,” said Hauschka. “I didn’t really say much because I was number 37 on the roster…I was just trying to walk on and get a job…so I was just trying to stay out of the way. That name…followed me into my rookie year in the NFL and then it was just kind of stuck. Fresh start in Buffalo, we’re going to go with my real name.”
3. Bonding with former Bills
It didn’t take long for Hauschka to find common ground with a few Bills alumni. To help ease his transition from playing on the West Coast to the harsh conditions in Buffalo, Hauschka has touched base with former Bills K Rian Lindell, quarterback Drew Bledsoe and special teams ace Steve Tasker.
“I have spoken with a few Bills…Rian Lindell…I haven’t had a chance to talk at length with any of these people, just kind of been texting…but plan to,” said Hauschka. “Drew Bledsoe; I was actually supposed to do a charity event with him out in Eastern Washington, but I won’t be able to make it…I ran into Steve Tasker…it was great. Super nice guy. We got to talk about what it’s like to be a Bill… [they] will be great resources moving forward.”
4. “City of Good Neighbors” lives up to the nickname
For those who’ve visited Buffalo, it should come as no surprise that the region has been nicknamed the “City of Good Neighbors.” In fact, many newcomers feel the phrase perfectly describes the hospitable and caring nature of the city’s residents. When asked what his favorite part of his new home is, Hauschka immediately responded with “the people.”
“The people are so nice,” said Hauschka. “I’m just blown away by how nice everybody is and how friendly. It’s just a great community. It seems really family-oriented and we have our first child on the way, so we’re looking forward to raising family here.”
5. Finding a competitive advantage
For any new player joining Buffalo’s roster, getting used to the unpredictable weather conditions that have come to define Western New York can be a daunting task. This being said, Hauschka, who has spent the last six years of his career in Seattle, will have some adjusting to do. Not shying away from the challenge, the new kicker is determined to take what Mother Nature gives him and use it as a competitive advantage on game day.
“It’ll definitely be a challenge kicking in the snow here, kicking in the windy conditions [and] the cold,” said Hauschka. “The benefit of having a practice facility next to the stadium is that you get to kick in the stadium a lot [and] get used to the winds there. But it will be good. I’m hoping to turn it into an advantage for me as a kicker here…”