CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – As he watched Brandon McManus miss the game-winning field goal for the Broncos last week against the Seahawks, Panthers kicker Eddy Piñeiro felt a shiver go down his spine.
“It’s hard for me to watch because I know how it feels to miss kicks,” he explains.
He also knows firsthand what could happen next. Though he’s only played pro football for four years, the 27-year-old undrafted kicker out of Florida is currently on his sixth different NFL team.
That has not been by choice.
“You’re one kick away from getting cut,” he says. “I know it’s probably a bad way of thinking but it’s realistic.”
But Piñeiro, just like his dad is not the type of person who gives up on his dreams. Eddy Sr. came to the US on a boat from Cuba in 1980 and became a pro soccer player, a sport Eddy Jr also played, until he broke the news to his dad he was switching to football.
“My dad was, ‘do what you want to do,” Piñeiro reflects. “I think kicking at that point would help my family financially. That was my whole goal.
It’s one he actually accomplished when he bought them a home with his first pro paycheck in 2018. Since then, the 6-0, 185-pound Piñeiro has earned his salary by staying true to the fundaments of kicking. As he showed me earlier this week, no matter the distance, the technique is always the same. The real difficulty is when you have to do it when everyone is counting on you.
“Whoever tells you they don’t feel pressure, it’s all a lie. You feel it. You’re in the moment. but i have fun doing it,” Piñeiro says as he explains how he felt when he hit the go-ahead field goal for Carolina in week one against Cleveland.
While Piñeiro’s 4th quarter kick was clutch, it was not the game-winner. That came off the foot of Browns kicker Cade York. But even though Carolina lost, Pinero felt he had impressed, And despite all the uncertainty of life as a kicker in the NFL, he’s optimistic things could work out with the Panthers.
“These guys are the best in the business. It makes my life easier.”
And for his sake, hopefully, makes his job, a little more secure.