What a difference a year makes for Michael Badgley.
Rewind to last spring and he was an undrafted rookie trying to cut his teeth with the Indianapolis Colts. But while Badgley’s story is well-known to Chargers fans at this point – from being waived by Indy to making team history with the Bolts in his first season in the league – what may not be known is the cool confidence that the kicker carries himself with.
Or as Special Teams Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach George Stewart calls it, “Jersey confidence.”
“(It’s that,) ‘just give me the ball’ (mentality),” Stewart said. “He’s a great kicker. His mental approach is outstanding. That’s one thing that I like about him.”
“I’m just a kid from New Jersey!” Badgley explained. “But, (confidence) is just one of the things that come with the position you play. You go out there, and a lot of the guys are counting on you to do your job. There’s just a certain way you like to go about it and I have fun with it.”
Fun may be one of the best ways to describe Badgley’s rookie season with the Chargers. He had the most efficient season in team history in 2018, making 93.8 percent of his field goal attempts, marking the best single season field goal percentage with at least 15 attempts.
And oh yeah, he booted a 59-yard field goal in the team’s Week 14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, marking the longest made field goal in franchise history. Ask Stewart and he’ll tell you there were other plans for that kick before Badgley came in and stated his case.
“That 59-yard field goal…we were going to punt the football,” Stewart reflected. “We were going to punt it and pin them, then Michael (says), ‘Coach, I got it.’ I believe my kickers. I had Gary Anderson when I was a young coach. Gary will probably be a Hall of Famer. I was a young coach and he was a veteran guy…. When they tell you that they can kick the football and make those type of field goals, I have the confidence that they can do it because that’s what we’re on the football team for. (Badgley) has done a great job of making those kicks. We’re very fortunate to have him.”
Part of what gives Stewart confidence in Badgley is the assurance the kicker has in himself. Although he’s only 23, Badgley carries himself with the type of gravitas seen by those who have been in the league for a number of years.
“He’s a pro’s pro to be a young player. He was coached very well in college at Miami. For us to have a chance to get him — it’s just everything about him. He’s kind of like Tiger Woods — you know with that standard operating procedure that Tiger Woods has. He’s looking at the football, he’s looking at the spot, he’s looking at the wind conditions. Everything that you look for in a kicker, he does those things.”
But ask Badgley where he learned to carry himself that way, and he’ll tell you along with college and admiring other athletes from afar, it was his time spent around Adam Vinatieri with the Colts last spring that proved most beneficial.
It’s what he learned during that time that paid dividends for him and the Chargers last season and now, beyond.
“You learn a lot just from watching him walk around the facility,” Badgley mentioned. “It’s something you always try to model your game after certain role models; guys like (Vinatieri) and Derek Jeter. Guys who carry themselves like that who I try to (emulate) at a professional level.”