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Stlrs4Life
02-19-2006, 10:37 AM
http://www.beaufortgazette.com/local_news/story/5520900p-4973714c.html



By KATHLYN CLORE
The Island Packet
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HILTON HEAD ISLAND -- Pittsburgh Steelers punter Chris Gardocki returned home from the apex of the football stratosphere late Tuesday.
The next morning, he was happily tooling around town playing Mr. Mom, making plans to hit the golf course at Colleton River and even grab a slice of pizza at Mellow Mushroom.

Gardocki, a 15-year NFL veteran, came back to his home in Wexford after helping his team win Super Bowl XL and celebrating at the ensuing parade Tuesday morning in Pittsburgh. Last Sunday's Super Bowl is the first in which Gardocki has played; the Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-10.

While quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who is more than a decade younger than Gardocki, has jabbered on about his game-time jitters, Gardocki said preparing for and playing the game wasn't too different than any other road game.

"The only time you got some butterflies was running out of the tunnel before the game," he said. "Then it's kind of like any other game; you're in normal mode, concentrating so much on what you're trying to do you don't even know what's going on around you.

"It was definitely an experience just with all the media and fans, though. It was like a home game for us."

The 36-year-old Clemson alumnus said Steelers fans tend to turn up wherever the team goes -- a major benefit considering the Steelers played six of their last seven games on the road.

Gardocki plans to take a few weeks off from football, perhaps even more than the usual three or four weeks he takes to rest up at the end of the season, because this time he's coming off a year that lasted 23 weeks, six more than the regular season.

Not that he's complaining.

"I'm glad it's over; it's a long season," Gardocki said. "It was definitely well worth it, but now it's time to rest and spend time with my family."

Gardocki's 9-year-old son, Cole, attends Hilton Head Preparatory School, where his dad has been dropping him off and picking him up since his return from Detroit and Pittsburgh. Cole and his mom, Sally, traveled to Detroit for the game, where they celebrated on Ford Field, had dinner at teammate Jerome Bettis' home and took in a Pistons basketball game.

"Cole is old enough that he'll be able to remember this when he gets older," Gardocki said. "Being able to take him into the locker room after the game was really cool."

Cole and Sally also went to the parade in Pittsburgh, which Chris Gardocki said was a surreal experience.

"I've never seen anything like that in my life," he said. "Pittsburgh, they love their team, and it shows."

Gardocki also has played for the Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns.

This season was his second with the Steelers, who finished 15-1 and won the AFC North championship in the 2004-05 season.

His streak of unblocked punts -- 1,112, including the six he made in the Super Bowl -- is an NFL record. He averaged 41.8 yards per punt during the 2005-06 season and 48.7 yards per punt in the Super Bowl.

He has three years remaining on his five-year, $6.3 million contract and did not mention any plans to retire, as Bettis did.

"That was one of the driving forces, no doubt," he said of the Steelers' quest to send running back Bettis out on top in his hometown.

Gardocki said Pittsburgh is the only truly ego-free team for which he's played.

"We all go out, and we have dinner," he said. "It's a real close team. Everybody has fun in the locker room. There's no egos. This is probably the first time I can probably be truthful and say that."

Contact Kathlyn Clore at 706-8123 or kclore@islandpacket.com. To comment: islandpacket.com.

Dook
02-19-2006, 10:59 AM
He really had a very good year for us this year.

We might have lost the super bowl if Gardocki wasn't so consistant.

If you win the kicking game then you are a step ahead in the field position battle.

BlackNGold203
02-19-2006, 11:07 AM
I will admit to being a lil on the fence when we let Miller go and signed Gardocki....

I will now admit that the Steeler brass is way smarter than me...LOL..he has been a great punter and we are lucky to have him...

slashsteel
02-19-2006, 11:24 AM
Dook I only see 4 SB's trophys in your banner, time for a upgrade!

melroseplace
02-19-2006, 11:37 AM
He's never had a punt blocked.

And I absolutely HATE it when the announcers point that out. I'm afraid it'll jinx us.

haha I know...and they mention it in every game at least once.

I'm glad to see Gardocki getting some media attention. a guy like him doesn't seem to get the respect and credit he deserves

clevestinks
02-19-2006, 12:43 PM
Good article! He seems pretty cool

ohio's #1 steelers chick
02-19-2006, 01:13 PM
simply amazing article!!!!! and i am very happy to see he's getting the respect he deserves all around. i mean i live in cleveland so i would hear all the time a few year's back how great gardocki was. now i never disagreed, but i am happy he's on our team now!!!! :blurp:
:banana: