If the Seattle Seahawks could have gotten away with not selecting Michael Dickson at all, and he slid out of the draft entirely, they most likely would not have found themselves sans Dickson for long. “I would have tried to come to Seattle,” says Dickson in an interview with Field Gulls on Tuesday, explaining that his relationship with special teams coordinator Brian Schneider was easily the best he had during any of his pre-draft meetings.
Not that alternate undrafted history really matters with Dickson though, since there was never a chance of the All-American punter escaping a team using a pick on him.
The Seahawks traded up to pick 149 in the fifth round to select Dickson, the highest a punter has gone since Bryan Anger went 70th in 2012. In fact, Anger and Kevin Huber are the only punters in the last decade to go higher than the Australian sensation, who up until Sunday had no official nickname. Now, and perhaps for the rest of his life, he will be known as “Big Balls.” Why’s that?
Michael Dickson: “Yeah, I’ve got big balls. They call me Big Balls Dickson.”— Matt Calkins (@Matt_Calkins) October 28, 2018
Well, he can thank his first-down run against the Detroit Lions, his teammates, and perhaps a little more “spin” on his words than he puts on his punts.
What’s the transition been like from Australia to America over these last few years, including your time in Texas and now Seattle?
Michael Dickson: We grow up watching American films and TV shows so everything is pretty expected. When I was down in Texas, I loved it there. It’s a really warm area down there, so a lot of people are really friendly, and up here you get the same sort of thing. It’s been great, honestly.
It’s the one thing everyone is wondering this week: Did you say the “Big Balls Dickson” quote?
MD: (Laughs) No, this is what happened. In the interview, they must have heard the team, because the team was kind of yelling it. They were like, “So what’s the team calling you now? And what are they saying about you?” I said I don’t know if I can say it. They said, “No, you can say it,” knowing what [the team] was saying. I said, “They said I have big balls.” So I guess they could have just taken the “they said” and used that quote, and then I said, “They were calling me ‘Big Balls Dickson’.” They twisted the quote to make it sound like I’m claiming it and I’m the one who invented it. I was just saying what the guys were calling me. The quote cracks me up.
So the quote makes it sound like you were kinda cocky and saying they call you “Big Balls Dickson” but in reality, you were just literally saying that the team was calling you “Big Balls Dickson” at the moment?
I would imagine that this week at practice — and maybe for the rest of your career — that nickname will hold. How does that make you feel?
MD: I mean, it’s hilarious. I find it hilarious honestly. Some of the stuff that they tweet at me or comment cracks me up all the time, so I guess it’s just one of those things that I’m gonna get a laugh out of again and again.
What’s it been like to play with and be around veterans like Sebastian Janikowski and Jon Ryan this year?
MD: Janikowski is all about being chill and just tells you, “Relax, it’s just football, don’t get too caught up in everything.” Doing that gets the best out of you. There’s always little lessons every day that he’s not preaching or anything, I just kinda listen to everything he has to say, and listen to him through his experiences. Same with Jon. He had so many stories about football, funny stories, everything and I just want to hear as much as possible because he’s experienced a lot and handled everything well and has had an amazing career. Just his perspective on everything, how he managed going into the week, what he did in certain situations, so it was good to be around him to understand. Same with Seabass, how to handle being a professional specialist.
How do you feel about the progress and usage of dropkicks, either on kickoffs or working on them as field goal attempts at some point in the future? Do you think you’ll try some field goals at some point in your career?
MD: Kickers have had years and years at handling field goal situations, they’re extremely consistent. With a dropkick, you’ve got a whole lot of aspects, like the ball bouncing the right way off the ground, different surfaces, how it bounces off grass vs astroturf, so it’s pretty hard. As far as kickoffs, with any other type of kick you get to practice in the net but with the kickoffs it’s kind of last minute, “We’re gonna do a dropkick kickoff,” so I get one shot to hit a good dropkick. I don’t get any practices into the net. It’s been pretty difficult this first year. I’ve hit most of them how I want to hit them. They’re not exactly perfect, but they’re kinda getting to where we want. This is my first year of doing it, so I feel like in years with all that extra practice it’s only going to get better and better. It’s been good so far but definitely can improve in that area. I don’t see myself kicking field goals any time soon.
What’s your favorite situation to punt in? Do you like to be around midfield, deep in your own territory, or where?
MD: Right around the 30-yard line is just ideal. If you hit it past 50, you’re gonna really flip the field, have them hopefully starting back at their own 20, if you hit it 70 yards and there’s a touchback you still have a 50-yard net. If you hit it 60 yards it’s at the 10, or 50 yards it’s at the 20, so it’s kind of a win-win.
You’ve had a couple this year that you didn’t hit like you would have wanted to hit. What typically causes a punt to go awry?
MD: I’ve had two touchbacks, and they’ve been the ones that I kicked across my body and put more hangtime on them. You have a bit of extra power in your leg during the game and it’s about knowing that and getting used to a different type of kick. Another one, I hit it too short. It’s the types of kicks that I haven’t done in game scenarios and it’s just about learning your body. One of them was I should have thrown it on my foot when I had more time in Chicago and it went 10 yards, I just kind of rushed it. It’s different things each time, but that’s why you practice and work on those things so it won’t happen again.
Punters have this small fraternity it seems and now you’re a part of it. There’s one in the NFC West that many would call the best punter of all-time if he continues down this path. Have you talked to Johnny Hekker and do you feel a part of that group now?
MD: As soon as I was drafted, Hekker reached out to me and said “Congratulations, you’re a hell of a punter, looking forward to playing against you.” He was a guy that I looked up to in college and I look up to him now. When the Rams came to Seattle, before the game, it was nothing but encouragement between us two. I had one blocked in the first quarter and after that, I was joking around with him at halftime, saying “I hate that feeling” because I had never had one blocked. And he was joking around saying yeah, it’s a terrible feeling. He’s been a great person to get to know. There’s definitely a sort of punter family. Every punter, I get to talk to them before the game, they’re all great guys. You kinda hope they all do well, even though you’re playing against them.
What would you want to tell people about Brian Schneider as a coach? And further, what’s the environment like around Pete Carroll?
MD: Brian Schneider is an unbelievable coach. Not many coaches can understand how to handle and how to coach specialists, but he’s just spot on. Every specialist I’ve ever talked to about him that’s worked with him say there’s no other coach like him. I’m just so lucky to have come here. Schneider is just the best in the league at handling specialists and that whole special teams unit. I’m so happy to be hear. We clicked really well at my pro day and if I was undrafted I would have tried to come to Seattle just because of him and how he is as a coach. As for Pete Carroll, he’s super positive. Same sort of principles. Super positive. Those two have given me confidence. Coming in as a rookie punter who got drafted there’s a lot of pressure on you to perform, because you used the draft pick to get a punter and I want to play really well for the team and the fans. Having the support and confidence from those two has done a lot for me.
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Thank you “Big Balls” for the interview!
Thank you to Delta for reaching out to connect us to Michael, who is currently promoting 12status with Delta.
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