Knee Jerk Reactions

The feud between Carolina's punter and the Gramaticas is getting ugly
November 29, 2004

Kickers inhabit an insular world, and it isn't big enough for Panthers punter Todd Sauerbrun and the Gramatica brothers, the first family of placekicking. Last week Carolina considered signing free agent Bill Gramatica (whose older brother, Martin, kicks for the Buccaneers; their youngest brother, Santiago, kicks for South Florida) to replace the injured John Kasay. Sauerbrun, also the Panthers' holder, blocked the deal, saying, "He's a stereotype kicker just like the rest of his brothers; that's all he'll ever be. There's no place for him here." (The team signed Jeff Chandler instead.) Sauerbrun and the Gramaticas have feuded since 2002, when the punter criticized Martin for celebrating a game-winning field goal and Santiago stood by the Panthers' locker room and taunted Sauerbrun. After another '02 game Martin had to be restrained from attacking Sauerbrun. Last week Sauerbrun called the brothers "f------ greaseballs."

Sauerbrun, who calls himself the best punter in NFL history, offered to fill in for Kasay--if the Panthers refunded some of the $40,000 they've fined him this season for being overweight. (He's slightly above his limit of 217 pounds.) "I hate to disappoint him," coach John Fox said, "but he's not placekicking, and he's not getting his money back."

COLOR PHOTOROBERT B. STANTON/WIREIMAGE.COM (SAUERBRUN) BLOCK THAT KICKER! Sauerbrun (left) talked the Panthers out of giving Bill Gramatica a job. COLOR PHOTOJC RIDLEY/WIREIMAGE.COM (GRAMATICA)   [See caption above.]