Arguably the greatest kicker in Chicago Bears history called it career.
Robbie Gould bid the NFL adieu in a thoughtful post to the Players' Tribune on Thursday, reflecting on an improbable journey that began with a walk-on tryout invitation from Joe Paterno at Penn State University in 2001.
What followed was a distinguished 18-year NFL career.
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After 11 seasons in Chicago, which culminated in him becoming the team's all-time leading scorer, Gould had a one-year stint with the New York Giants before settling down with the San Francisco 49ers for the remainder of his career.
His crowning achievement was his perfect postseason field-goal percentage. At 29-for-29 across 16 games, there are a plethora of big moments Gould could choose to hang his hat on.
In his mind, though, there's one kick that stands above the rest.
"January of 2022," he said. "Playoffs. Green Bay vs. San Fran. Lambeau Field. It's 10–10. Ball on the right hash. Four seconds left on the clock. Jimmy G. had just taken the Niners offense 44 yards in nine plays against the top-seeded Packers. Deebo and Juszczyk had huge plays to give us a shot to win it from 45 and send San Francisco to the NFC Championship.
"The temperature was below zero, and it felt exactly the way it did when I played in the Windy City. Snow was falling, and the ground was soft. It wasn't ideal, but none of that mattered; as a kicker, it was one of those moments I lived for every time I stepped on the field. And then….
We nailed it right down the middle."
Gould will always have a soft spot for the city of Chicago, where he met his wife and raised his kids. He played against the Green Bay Packer 21 times as a member of the Bears. That type of loathing is hard to unlearn.
Bears' special teams coordinator Richard Hightower, who worked in the same role for the 49ers that season, spoke about the magnitude of that wild night at Lambeau Field Thursday at Halas Hall.
"I mean, that was an awesome experience for our whole football time," he said. "Big kick for him obviously, big kick for the franchise there. Anytime you beat Green Bay, I'm all for it. It was just a special moment. It was a special moment. It's one that those guys on that team will cherish and it's something that I'm hoping as we continue to build something here really special, that we can have a moment like that. And Bears fans and everybody here can experience that as well. That's why we come to work every day, is for moments like that."
"I've always had a healthy respect for the Packers and that fierce Bears-Packers rivalry," Gould said. "More than anything, though, I just absolutely love Bears fans. So to hit a huge kick like that, on the big stage, to continue my streak of never missing a kick in the playoffs and to also make all of Chicago happy in the process by taking down its rival? It was the best of both worlds."