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Chargers

How confident is Michael Badgley? Chargers kicker shows up to camp with a mullet

Chargers kicker Michael Badgley celebrates following a 33-30 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 2.
Chargers kicker Michael Badgley pumps his fist after a 33-30 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 2 at Heinz Field.
(Getty Images)

A certain level of self-assurance is required to successfully convert 15 of 16 field goal attempts — and Michael Badgley is coming off the most accurate single season ever for a Chargers kicker.

One of his makes was another team record — for distance — a 59-yarder. When the playoffs arrived, Badgley made five more field goals in a victory over Baltimore. Yes, that performance also was a franchise-best, for a postseason game.

Special teams coordinator George Stewart calls Badgley’s notably forged belief “Jersey confidence,” the kicker having grown up in Summit, N.J., before attending Miami.

It takes a lot of inner certainty to do what Badgley did during the 2018 season. And takes a lot more to do what he did Monday.

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Badgley walked into a Sports Clips with teammate Dan Feeney and asked for a mullet.

“I’m hyped for him,” said defensive lineman Isaac Rochell, one of Badgley’s best friends on the team. “He’ll live up to what the expectation of a mullet lifestyle is. He’s a beast.”

Regarded these days as less of a ’do and more of a don’t, the mullet was Badgley’s preferred hairstyle for a time in college.

In April, when he appeared at the Chargers’ draft party in Santa Monica, a giant screen on stage featured a photo of him from back then, his distinctive look including a pair of aviator sunglasses.

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The fans in attendance began shouting for a return of the mullet, and Badgley promised them he would bring it back. That’s why he arrived for the start of training camp looking nearly as dated as a leather helmet.

“It’s just for fun,” Badgley said Saturday. “A lot of the guys on the team have had a good laugh out of it. Once you step on the field, it’s all business anyway. I don’t think a haircut is going to change my mindset.”

The Chargers definitely believe in Badgley, who last season brought calm to a position that had been tumbling wildly end-over-end. He is the only pure kicker in camp, with punter Ty Long also capable of hitting field goals and extra points.

The job security has Badgley in a place vastly different from where he was just a year ago. After signing with Indianapolis as an undrafted free agent, he reported to a team that already employed Adam Vinatieri, the NFL’s all-time leading scorer.

“You go into it thinking, ‘I’m going to give it everything I have to make them notice me, make them think I can kick in the NFL,’ ” Badgley said. “But, at the end of the day, it’s Adam Vinatieri.”

The Colts released Badgley following the preseason. He signed with the Chargers in October when Caleb Sturgis was injured.

Badgley suddenly was walking into a locker room in which he knew no one, his new teammates knowing him only as the seventh player who would attempt a kick for the team in less than a season and a half.

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“It’s almost like they’re looking right through you,” Badgley recalled. “ ‘Here comes another kicker. What’s he going to do?’ As they should. I don’t blame them.”

When Sturgis returned, he struggled to the point where the Chargers switched permanently to Badgley, who then started making all that history.

He quickly went from having a name no one knew to having multiple nicknames: “Money Badger” and “Money Bags.”

After practice the past two days, Badgley signed autographs for numerous screaming fans and posed for several selfies.

He appeared to genuinely appreciate the opportunity to embrace the noise coming from Chargers fans who, given the team’s past kicking woes, more often had screamed something other than their affection.

“I always tell myself, ‘It’s not going to last forever,’ ” Badgley said. “You remember being a kid, looking over fences trying to get an autograph, whether it’s a baseball game or football game.

Calling it a “near death type experience,” left tackle Russell Okung wrote Thursday that he suffered a pulmonary embolism June 1.

“It’s one of those feelings where I remember how it felt and you want to be able to go over there and do it for them now. You have to enjoy every aspect of this game. Why not?”

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And every aspect for Badgley includes his new haircut, which is really his old haircut.

“I think he’s creating a brand,” Rochell said. “He’s bringing the mullet back. I think he is everything that a mullet should be.”

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The Chargers on Saturday had their first practice in pads, an occasion that had players such as safety Derwin James excited.

“When you put the pads on, it’s like, ‘These are my teammates,’ but at the same time, you want to hit and show that you’re aggressive and physical,” he said. “It’s all of those things but (also) being clean and keeping your teammates safe.”

One play, a reverse, resulted in quarterback Philip Rivers running downfield in a way that suggested he was going to throw a block. Then he encountered James, the team’s hard-hitting safety.

“In a game, we know what’s going to happen,” James said, laughing. “But I’m not going to touch Phil. We need Phil. He came and told me, ‘I definitely wasn’t coming to block you.’ ”

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Fullback Derek Watt sat out practice to rest a sore shoulder on which he had offseason surgery. … An estimated 4,000 to 5,000 fans attended the two-hour morning session.


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