Reggie Roby, the Dolphins' remarkable oversized punter, has this...

SAN FRANCISCO -- Reggie Roby, the Dolphins' remarkable oversized punter, has this recurring Super Bowl fantasy: He drops back to punt but the snap is wild. He juggles the ball for an instant and decides it's too risky to try a punt. So he tucks the ball away and takes off downfield for a touchdown.

Unfortunately for Roby that scenario could happen only with Miami Coach Don Shula in a state of unconsciousness. The 6-foot-3, 235 pound Roby is much too valuable and too unique a punter to be jeopardized for anything as routine as a 60-yard touchdown play.


'I've always been a 'chub',' Roby said Thursday while taking a lunchbreak from Miami's preparations for Sunday's Super Bowl game against the 49ers. 'I've been this size since 10th grade. I was a tight end and a linebacker in high school but when I got to college (the University of Iowa), they told me not to fool around with a position and just stick to punting. I'm not planning on changing my weight any. I'm heavier than the average punter and that helps me.'


Shula likes Roby just the way he is. The rest of the Dolphins also favor their second-year punter for a variety of reasons. One of them is that Roby had the NFL's second highest punting average this season. His 44.7-yard figure was topped only by the 44.9 of Kansas City's Jim Arnold. However, because of Roby's unusually high kicking trajectory, no punter topped his net average of 38.1 yards. Of his 51 punts, only 17 were returned.

Roby enjoys telling of the time in a college practice when he punted a ball the entire length of a football field.

In a pre-season game in Minneapolis' Metrodome this past summer, a Roby punt soared 186 feet high to hit a screen that descends from the stadium roof.

His kicking style is reminiscent of the Cleveland Browns' Horace Gillom, probably the NFL's premier punter of the post-World War II era. Roby, like Gillom, holds the football unusually high, dropping it from eye level for a tremendous swing of his right leg, all the while keeping his left foot planted on the ground.

He claims he can also place kick well. He has filled in a few times when Miami's regular kicker, Uwe von Schamann, was injured.


For all his size and athletic skill, Roby never has taken off on a run from punt formation, and only once has he thrown a pass. That's probably why the Super Bowl fantasy keeps coming back. Asked what he'd like to see happen Sunday, Roby said: 'Well, I'd like a few kicks inside their 10-yard line. I'd like a few long kicks that would drive them back deep in their own territory, and I'd like to make a big play, from a fumbled snap, or something.'

He nearly attempted his first run during the Dolphins' 31-10 playoff victory over the Seattle Seahawks three weeks ago.

'I juggled the snap,' he said, 'and I had to dodge a couple of guys. I almost ran but there were too many blue shirts in the middle. So I decided not to.'

His hasty punt travelled more than 40 yards.

'I've been punting since I was six,' he said. 'There weren't many kids in our neighborhood so I played a lot by myself.

'We lived in a one-story house. What I'd do was punt over the house into the yard behind. Then I'd go get the ball and kick it back over the house in the other direction. I broke a couple of windows here and there, but it kept me busy. When I got to junior high, I found I could punt the ball farther than anyone at my grade level. When I was recruited by colleges, it was strictly as a punter.'


Then Roby revealed a childhood ambition.

'When I was growing up, I wanted to be a role model in the NFL,' he said. 'I wanted to be at a position where blacks did not dominate. I wanted to be the first black punter in the NFL. I wanted to encourage more black kids to start punting, like it's been with the quarterbacks.'

Unfortunately, he adds, he never heard of Greg Coleman, the Minnesota Vikings' black punter, until his junior year at college. And he never knew of Horace Gillom until Shula mentioned him a few weeks ago.

Still, as a listener pointed out to him, the way he punts footballs, Roby figures to be a role model for all youngsters for the next several years.

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