Commentary | Tampa Bay Buccaneer Lawrence Tynes finds kicking easy compared to what he has endured

adell@bradenton.comAugust 4, 2013 


As a kicker, Lawrence Tynes needs to have a short memory.

As a brother, he has trained his memory to be selective.

The first part is easy and a reason Tynes, the new kicker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is the only player in NFL history to boot two game-winning overtime field goals in the playoffs, leading the New York Giants over the Green Bay Packers in the 2008 NFC championship game and past the San Francisco 49ers four years later for another NFC title.

The second part has been difficult.

His brother, Mark, sits in a federal prison serving a 27-year sentence for running a marijuana trafficking ring.

It tore his family apart.

Tynes' father, Larry, was a Navy Seal and law enforcement officer and his brother, Jason, is an Army vet who served in Kuwait, Iraq and Bosnia. Mark's incarceration led to their parents' divorce after 28 years. From there, his mother's health took a turn for the worst. Maggie Tynes suffered a heart attack, had kidney problems and then underwent brain surgery.

His brother robbed Lawrence of some of the glory he should have gotten after the victory over Green Bay. Many media outlets felt the story was more about Mark, and he became a prison celebrity.

But Lawrence is still the good brother.

He is the best person the Buccaneers could have signed to replace Connor Barth, their kicker who is out for the season with an Achilles tear.

Lawrence never disputed the charge against Mark, but argued the sentence was severe. He tried to get it commuted during the Bush administration to no avail. He and his brother talk regularly, but the kicker says the conversation is not about getting his sentenced reduced.

"He did the crime and is doing his time. It's a dead story," Lawrence says. "We talk about two or three times a week. At the end of the day, he is doing his thing in there and will get out someday. I don't need to hype him up, and he doesn't need to motivate me. He is taking what was handed to him and made the best of it. I tell him that I love him."

Lawrence Tynes doesn't have Barth's power, not in his leg anyway. But his life is a powerful testament to courage.

Prior to the '07 season, Tynes spent most of the summer at the bedside of his wife, Amanda, helping her battle hyperemesis gravidarum, a serious condition associated with a multiple pregnancy. She was vomiting about 20 times a day before giving birth to twin boys at 32 weeks.

Not long after, Tynes was on the practice field for the Giants and then booting field goals in games. He missed more than he should have, but there was a reason. On the field, he lost his long snapper for the season, was not familiar with his holder and was just a few months removed from dealing with his wife's life-threatening situation.

Bucs head coach Greg Schiano, who covets courageous stories like a little kid holding onto his teddy bear after a nightmare, will never have to worry that Tynes will succumb to pressure.

Critics say Tynes is short on distance, though he disputes that. He says climate has a lot to do with a kicker's success.

"The weather up there (New York) is cold, and the ball doesn't travel as well, but you deal with it," Tynes says. "I feel terrible for Connor, but I feel this is the right situation for me. I am from Florida, and it made sense. I've been in this business a long time. I can make any field goal on the field. A lot of weather dictated what I did in New York. These conditions should enhance my range."

There was a wind chill factor of minus-27 degrees when Tynes kicked the winning 47-yard field goal against Green Bay, which is the longest postseason boot in Lambeau Field history. It came after he shanked two straight attempts.

"I don't let any of them bother me, whether I make them or miss them. The mentality is to make the next kick. You can't worry about ones you made or ones you missed," Tynes says.

Tynes is encouraged by what he sees with the Bucs but is taking nothing for granted, and Schiano isn't making him particularly comfortable.

Tynes couldn't kick Saturday because of a toe injury, but is expected to be back Monday. His competition, Derek Dimke, has shown a strong leg in camp.

"It's going to be a competition, I think, until the end. We've got to figure this thing out. It's a big decision," Schiano says.

Competition doesn't scare Tynes. Kicking field goals is the easiest part of his life after what he has experienced.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.

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