Joe Nedney of the San Francisco 49ers makes a living by converting field goals. In fact, he is so good at his job that he’d do anything to keep it, especially when a 340-pound, titanium covered robot threatens to take it away.
Sponsored by the 7th annual RoboGames that takes place in San Mateo next weekend, Ziggy, the games’ reigning champion in heavyweight robot combat, issued Joe Nedney a field goal kicking challenge, in part to promote the games, but mostly to steal a roster spot on the 2011 49er’s team.
“I got challenged, and you can’t pass up on a challenge,” said Nedney. “Anytime I hear I hear about someone — or something — that can kick a field goal, I got to come check it out.”
Originally designed to flip other robots during combats, Ziggy’s maker Michel Worry set down a football in front of its metallic thrust one day out of curiosity. Little did Michael know that Ziggy had no problem blasting a 65-yard kick. “When was the last time a human made a 65 yard field goal?” said Worry, and the idea for the contest was born.
While Nedney stretched, Ziggy fired off practice kicks, and its menacing face paint was a constant reminder of the veteran kicker’s worst nightmare. “I hope no one from the 49ers management is watching this,” said Nedney as he watched Ziggy cleared another 35 yarder.
After both contestants made the first kick, Joe stepped up and produced a beautiful, curling efforts that reminded us of his last-second field goal against the Kansas City Chiefs last season. While Ziggy did not look stirred, the crowd went wild. Game on.
Whatever Joe did to ice Ziggy, it worked. After the third round, Ziggy was unable to duplicate its previously accurate kicks. Turns out Ziggy’s powerful thrust was weakened as its mammoth sank into the soft grounds at Kezar. Added with strong headwinds, the odds were stacked against Ziggy. What happened afterwards is a retelling of countless science-fiction movies: humans’ adaptability beat out robot’s brute force. For the medal-deciding kick at 50 yards, Ziggy’s effort fell short and left, while Nedney’s sailed perfectly through the goal post.
With his gold medal in hand, Nedney’s biggest worry was finally cleared. “It definitely legitimizes my position. I feel pretty good about myself right now,” he said.