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Ex-NFL kicker Morten Andersen backs Carli Lloyd’s switch from soccer

She’s scored 118 goals for the United States women’s national soccer team (USWNT), won two consecutive World Cup titles and clinched two Olympic gold medals.

But after winning almost everything there is to win in soccer, Carli Lloyd looks ready for a new challenge.

A video of Lloyd drilling a 55-yard field goal during practice with the Philadelphia Eagles went viral this summer, sparking rumors the midfielder could become the first female to compete in the National Football League (NFL).

And on the Laughter Permitted podcast on October 15, the 37-year-old Lloyd added fuel to the fire saying she is “seriously considering” a future as a professional kicker in the NFL.

Lloyd’s potential career switch has received backing from many in the sport.

Buffalo Bills kicker Stephen Hauschka welcomed any attempt by Lloyd to transition into the NFL, even offering her help.

Hall of Fame kicker Morten Andersen has also thrown his support behind a potential move to gridiron.

“I think she would thrive (in the NFL) because of her competitive nature and her desire to prove that she can do this,” Andersen told CNN Sport.

“I think that having played on the world stage under bright lights will absolutely help her if she chooses to pursue the NFL.

“I also know, more importantly, that when you own your skill set and understand your workbench, you will have success at the highest level. Therefore, she needs to train this very specific skill and become great at it.

“Time only will give us the answer on whether that can be done, whether it be Carli or another female athlete.”

READ: USWNT champ impresses NFL Hall of Famer with field goal

If you’re good enough, you play

The NFL has been criticized in the past over the issue of inclusion.

In an attempt to broaden its horizons, the NFL is making efforts to provide openings. International players have been given a route into the league via the International Players Pathway and head coaches — in particular, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians — are giving women chances in coaching positions.

Whilst there may be skepticism from some in the NFL world to a woman playing, Andersen, who played for five different teams across his career, says if they are good enough they should be given the opportunity.

“It is likely that there may be resistance to signing a woman to an NFL contract for fear of backlash from old school supporters who believe that football is a sport that should be played by men only,” Morten said. “I say, take the best talent available regardless of gender.”

Andersen believes if Lloyd succeeded in making it to the NFL, she would be made to feel at home.

“If and when a woman plays in the NFL, there will be accommodations made for obvious reasons, such as separate dressing and bathroom facilities,” the 59-year-old said.

“Other than that, she is considered a part of the team and should participate on equal footing with the rest of the players and staff.

“People fit in when they perform on the field and conduct themselves in a professional, engaging manner off the field in a way that demands respect. In my eyes, gender should not be an issue.”

READ: US Women’s National Team’s equal-pay lawsuit is set for a May trial

Adjusting to a new role

Lloyd has featured heavily in the USWNT’s success over recent years.

She won the Golden Ball award at the 2015 World Cup — given to the best player at the tournament — and has been shortlisted for the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year award on three occasions.

She struggled for playing time at the 2019 World Cup, however, claiming it was the “worst time of my life.”

But due to the nature of soccer, her success as an individual could only have happened with the help of her teammates.

In contrast, the kicking position in the NFL is often seen as one of the most individual positions in sport, with kickers often cutting an isolated figure when they’re experiencing a poor run of form.

As someone who has experience in coping with the pressures of being an NFL kicker — Andersen has scored the most game-winning field goals in NFL history (103) — the seven-time Pro-Bowler says the kicker is an integrated position in the team, and a role that Lloyd could thrive in.

“The kicking position is not isolated,” Denmark-born Andersen said.

“There is a misunderstanding that because you are a specialist, and not an ‘every down’ player, you somehow are isolated and not part of the team chemistry.

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“On the contrary, successful kickers are usually well balanced, smart people who thrive in situations that others find extremely unsettling.

“She would have to find out if she can thrive with the equipment on, the timing of the operation of the kick, which is typically 1.25 seconds from snap to kick, the physical nature of the sport, as there will be times where she may get hit by someone twice her size, and the scrutiny she will have to endure.”

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