(Editor's note: Columnists Chip Scoggins, Jim Souhan and Patrick Reusse revisit people from stories of years past. In the second of six parts, Jim checks in on former Vikings kicker Fuad Reveiz.)
On Dec. 20, 1992, the Vikings trailed the Steelers 3-0 in the fourth quarter in Pittsburgh. A victory would send the Vikings to the playoffs.
Tony Dungy’s defense held, Fuad Reveiz kicked two field goals, and the Vikings won the NFC Central. In 1994, Reveiz made the Pro Bowl and won the Pro Football Writers Golden Toe Award, perhaps the peak of his 11-year NFL career.
As part of a series in which Star Tribune columnists catch up with favorite old story subjects, I thought of Reveiz in part because of his composure and professionalism as a kicker, in part because of his life story, and in part because he established himself as one of the friendliest and forthcoming Vikings of his era.
Born in Bogota, Colombia, his family moved to Miami when he was 11. A friend saw him kicking a soccer ball and talked him into trying football. He became a two-way player, at linebacker and fullback, and a kicker.
With few major colleges interested in him, Reveiz planned to attend junior college until Tennessee coach Johnny Majors, concerned with his kickers’ performances in the spring, offered Reveiz a scholarship just before fall practice.
He performed well enough at Tennessee that the Dolphins drafted him in the seventh round in 1985. After four years in Miami, Reveiz signed with San Diego and was cut a month into the 1990 season.
As the Vikings have learned in recent years, kicker performances are fickle. The Vikings signed him at the low point of his professional career and he flourished, never forgetting the kicking and life advice he received at Tennessee from assistant coach George Cafego.
“His biggest thing was not to make a big deal out of things,” Reveiz said. “Just shut up and get it done. Sounds simple, mundane, but there was a lot of depth to that. All my life, I followed that advice. Shut up. Get it done. Stop whining.
“All of my holders, every one of them, all hated kickers. Because as soon as a kicker missed, well, ‘The holder didn’t put the ball in the right spot, or leaned it too much to the left or the right, or winked his eye or passed gas.’ It was always something.
“So when my holders asked me how I wanted the ball, I’d tell them: ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s my job to make the kick.”
Reveiz competed with former Packers kicker Eddie Garcia during the 1985 training camp. Longtime Dolphins backup quarterback Don Strock was the holder.
“Every time Eddie Garcia missed a kick, the grass was too high, the wind was too strong. Don Strock hated that. I learned real quick.”
Reveiz lives in his old college town of Knoxville, Tenn. Asked for his favorite Vikings memory, he chose not the game-winning kick at Pittsburgh but Vikings games against Green Bay.
“The fondest memory I have is being able to play against Reggie White when he was with the Packers,” Reveiz said. “He was a teammate of mine in college, and I distinctly remember him, many times, yelling across to our sideline, ‘Brother, I love you but I’m coming after you.’ He was something else. A dear friend.”
That December day in Pittsburgh, the Vikings overcame one of the fiercest home-field advantages in football. Future Viking Gary Anderson had given the Steelers the lead with a second-quarter field goal. Reveiz made kicks of 38 and 36 yards in the fourth quarter, and the Vikings’ sideline erupted.
“The fans were so loud you could not hear anything on the field,” Reveiz said. “Harry Newsome was our holder, and I couldn’t even hear him. In three seconds, it went from hysteria to dead silence. The ball went through the uprights, and the only thing you could hear, all of a sudden, was our guys yelling and screaming.
“That is an amazing feeling. Those are the things you really miss, that bonding and that time in the locker room with your guys. That’s priceless, and you can’t ever get it back.’’