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Edward Shane Lechler ( ; born August 7, 1976 in East Bernard, Texasmarker) is an American football punter who currently plays for the Oakland Raiders in the National Football League. Lechler played college football for Texas A&M from 1996-1999. In the NFL, Lechler has been named an All-Pro six times during his career. He is currently the NFL's All-Time leader in career punting average. Lechler comes from an athletic family - his mother and father played football and basketball (respectively) for Baylormarker. His brother Derek was a punter for Texas A&M and his wife, the former Erin Gibson, was an All-American volleyball player for the Aggies.

Early years

Lechler attended East Bernard High School in East Bernard, Texasmarker and was a standout in football, basketball, golf and baseball. As a quarterback, punter, and placekicker, he led East Bernard to the state quarterfinals his senior year, completing 87 of 101 (86.1%) passes for 1,640 yards and 11 touchdowns. In his high school career, he passed for nearly 5,000 yards and averaged 41.6 yards per punt. His longest punt in high school was 85 yards.

College

A versatile and talented player, Lechler was not only the Aggies’ punter, but also kicked off, served as the long field goal kicker, was the holder for short field goals and PAT, and was the emergency quarterback. As a senior, he completed a 29-yard pass on a fake punt against Baylormarker and threw a touchdown pass to Dan Campbell on a fake field goal in a hard-fought 17-10 win against Texas Tech.

When injuries depleted the depth chart, Lechler served as the backup quarterback for the 1998 Big 12 Championship game. At one point in the game, the Aggies' last healthy quarterback Branndon Stewart appeared shaken and a nervous-looking Lechler warmed his arm up on the sideline. Stewart was able to stay in the game and led the Aggies to a dramatic 36-33 victory over Kansas State, earning the Aggies their first Big 12 championship. Because of his contributions in so many facets of the game, coach R. C. Slocum called Lechler "the team's most valuable player."

Lechler started his career off strong at Texas A&M, earning Freshman All-America honors in 1996 after averaging a freshman record 42.7 yards. His sophomore season, he was named to the All-Big 12 team after breaking the Aggie single season record with an average of 47.0 yards per punt. He was named to The Sporting News All-America team as a junior in 1998 and was also an Associated Press first team All-American honors as a senior in 1999, a year in which his 46.5 yards per punt is second in the record books only to his own sophomore season. He is the NCAA record holder for career punt average with a mark of 44.7 yards per punt. He had six career punts of 69 yards or longer and had 38 "coffin corner" kicks over his final two seasons. Lechler was also named first team All-Big 12 Conference by the league’s head coaches, The Associated Press, the Austin American Statesman, The Dallas Morning News, Football News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Houston Chronicle and the Kansas City Starmarker.

Lechler did not have a punt blocked during his career and only one of his punts was returned for a touchdown during his career.

NFL

Arguably the best punter in the NFL since entering the league in 2000, Lechler has set various NFL and Raiders records. He was a Pro Bowler in 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2008 and was named to the All-Pro team in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2008. Lechler has the NFL record for best average per punt in a career (46.8), the only player with a higher average than the legendary Sammy Baugh. He has the five best single-season punting averages in Raiders history, including a career-best 49.1 in 2007, the second highest single season average in league history (Baugh averaged 51.4 in 1940). Lechler also set a Raider record for most punting yards in a season with 4,503 in 2003. He had at least one punt of 50 yards or more in 33 consecutive games from Week 13 of 2003 through Week 14 of 2005, the longest streak by any player since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970. Has been named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week twice. Lechler has played in 126 regular season league games and seven playoff games, including Super Bowl XXXVII. At the 2008 Pro Bowl, he had a punt of 55 yards.

Both Lechler and kicker Sebastian Janikowski are the longest tenured players on the Oakland Raiders.

On February 18, 2009, Lechler signed a 4 year, $12 million contract, making him the highest paid punter in NFL history.

Personal

Lechler is married to the former Erin Gibson, who was an All-American volleyball player at Texas A&M. He is also a close friend of Justin Brantly, a former A&M punter.

References

  1. ESPN.com: Raiders re-sign star punter Lechler


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