Greg Zuerlein is used to getting the job done with his leg, not his arm.
So when the Los Angeles Rams kicker took to the Haymarket Park mound, standing 60 feet, 6 inches from home plate to throw out Saturday's first pitch for the Lincoln Saltdogs and Sioux City Explorers, he looked a little out of place.
“I had no idea what I was doing,” Zuerlein said. “I know how to kick a little bit, but coming out here — out of my element — I was very nervous.”
The Lincoln native and Pius X graduate is fresh off a successful 2018-19 season, helping lead the Rams to Super Bowl 53 after hitting a 57-yard field goal, an NFL record for overtime, in a controversial 26-23 win over the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game.
Zuerlein went on to score the only points for the Rams in a 13-3 loss in the Super Bowl to New England with a 53-yard field goal.
“Making it to the Super Bowl is something you dream about,” Zuerlein said. “That's why you play the game. To compete for a championship and being able to go up there was an awesome experience.
“Unfortunately it didn't turn out the way we wanted, but that is why you play the game.”
Returning home is something Zuerlein also likes to experience as much as he can and takes a great deal of pride in.
“I've debated when they ask you what college you are from by saying 'Pius,'” Zuerlein said. “Obviously UNO (Omaha) kicked us out and I loved Missouri Western, but all those coaches are gone. There is no tie to me there anymore. Pius has the familiarity — it has everything as a school — that's where I want to send my kids. I don't know much more I can say about Pius.”
Zuerlein and his wife, Megan, try to make it back a few trips every year before "Legatron" returns to the team in mid-July. Zuerlein reports to training camp for the Rams on July 26 in Irvine, California.
“There is always things you clean up,” Zuerlein said. "Going into fall camp in three weeks, I think I'm ready to get started and see what happens.”
Zuerlein is looking to improve on an impressive season in which he connected on 27 of 31 field-goal attempts and made field goals of more than 50 yards in six different games including the postseason. He currently has 177 career made field goals and a career-long of 61 yards.
“Making that (Super Bowl-bound) kick — I'll never forget that,” Zuerlein said. “Just the excitement in the locker room — being around the guys after winning those games is second to none. It's something no other person gets to experience in that locker room.
“It's unbelievable and I don't know how to describe it.”