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Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2007, 23:14 GMT
Kicking king Tynes
By Mark Barden

From soccer-mad Scottish schoolboy to highly rated NFL kicker - that's the long journey made by Lawrence Tynes.

The Greenock-born gridiron star ended his third full season with Kansas City in December with a play-offs loss to Indianapolis.

Lawrence Tynes
Tynes becomes a restricted free agent in March
It was the Chiefs' first campaign under head coach Herm Edwards, and Tynes' first experience of the NFL post-season.

"We weren't ready for the Colts' speed," he told BBC Sport. "Their game was so much faster than anything I'd ever seen.

"But we got a taste of the play-offs this year, and it can only make us a better team," said the 30-year-old. "I know I can definitely be a better player."

But that's in the future - what about the past of a player whose early sporting heroes wore the green and white hoops of Celtic?

"I was a big Celtic fan when I was growing up in Campbeltown on the west coast," recalled Tynes.

"I still follow them, usually through my mom in Florida who talks regularly to my cousins and aunts in Scotland."

As luck would have it, Tynes later became friends with former Bhoys idol Maurice Johnston while he was with Kansas City's MLS team.

Tynes arrived in Missouri via spells in the Canadian Football League and NFL Europe - the latter with the Scottish Claymores in Glasgow.

His father was a Master Chief in the US Navy and married his mother while based in Scotland.

The young Lawrence left Scotland at the age of 10 and went to high school in Milton, Florida, where he was teased over his Scottish accent. "It took me three or four years to lose it," he said.

Tynes began playing American football in the defensive position of safety, but quickly gravitated towards kicking.

ANDERSEN - THE GREAT DANE
Legendary NFL kicker Morten Andersen
I'll be the answer to a quiz question one day - the only guy to ever beat out Morten Andersen

Lawrence Tynes on the NFL legend he replaced

"Playing soccer as a kid is definitely where it came from," he confirmed.

"But even in high school, I worked at it a lot. After the season was over, I would still practice my kicks three or four days a week on my own.

"I didn't even think about a career in the NFL until I was a junior at college at Troy State (also in Florida)."

Not that NFL stardom was just around the corner for the criminal justice student.

Originally signed by the Chiefs in April 2001, Tynes was released in early 2002, and had a season with the Claymores in Glasgow and two with the Ottawa Renegades in Canada.

"Playing for the Claymores was fun and we got good crowds at Hampden," he recalled. "The average was over 15,000, which isn't bad."

The form he showed with Ottawa prompted the Chiefs to re-sign him as a free agent in February 2004, and he eventually displaced Danish-born Morten Andersen, now the NFL's all-time leading scorer.

"I'll be the answer to a quiz question one day - the only guy to ever beat out Morten Andersen," Tynes laughed.

"He was still playing with Atlanta last season at the age of 46, so I'll be doing pretty well if my career lasts anywhere near as long as his."

That career could takes Tynes away from Kansas City in March, when he becomes a restricted free agent.

"It means I can talk to any team in the league, but if someone makes me an offer, the Chiefs have a week in which to match it," he explained.

Not that Tynes is necessarily in a hurry to swap Arrowhead Stadium for another home venue.

"I'm happy in Kansas and I want to stay here," he said. "It's not the best place in world to play, weather-wise, because it's cold and it snows.

"But I met my wife Amanda here. She's pregnant with twins which are due at the end of July, right before training camp begins - we're hoping for one of each."

Chiefs fans will be hoping Tynes is celebrating their birth in Kansas City this summer rather than any other NFL town.

SEE ALSO
Tynes sceptical over London game
19 Jan 07 |  American Football
NFL results
10 Oct 05 |  American Football
NFL in a nutshell
14 Oct 03 |  American Football


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