Raiders K Giorgio Tavecchio still chasing dream after 6 NFL camps

Updated August 21, 2017 - 10:45 pm

OAKLAND, Calif. — This foray into football began innocently enough for Giorgio Tavecchio.

It was fun.

A catchy Italian song from the 1950s, “Eh, Cumpari!” by Julius La Rosa, bounced from the stadium speakers at Campolindo High in Moraga, California, whenever the Italian-American took the field for a field goal or extra point. He relished the time spent with friends. The sport unexpectedly morphed into a college opportunity; he was set to play Division I soccer at UC Davis before California extended a late invite to be a freshman walk-on.

Three days after his first college practice, he kicked off Cal’s 2008 season opener against Michigan State.

So much fun in such a short span. He since has learned to bide his time.

Tavecchio, the Raiders’ backup kicker, is 27 years old and recently finished his sixth NFL training camp. He has yet to appear in an NFL regular-season game. His story is one of patience, perseverance and an ongoing chase for perfection that he hopes, one day, will produce a professional opportunity. It continues this Saturday on the road against the Dallas Cowboys.

This is Tavecchio’s third preseason with the Raiders. So far, he’s been as steady in games as in practices, converting both extra-point attempts and a lone field-goal try of 43 yards.

“To me, he’s grown,” coach Jack Del Rio said. “I think he’s right on the edge. We’re happy to have him back competing. I think he’s a good, young kicker. Those guys sometimes will bounce for a while before they finally catch on and get a career going. He has a lot of desire. He has a good leg. I like the way he’s worked.”

It was difficult to miss Tavecchio in camp.

The Milan, Italy, native stands 5 feet, 10 inches. He weighs 182 pounds and wears a No. 2 red jersey. But there he was, holding a tackle bag for certain drills against defensive linemen, linebackers and defensive backs. He wanted to contribute as a teammate any way he could, he said, without being a detriment. His frame allowed a lower target for defenders practicing their pad height.

One day, he hopes to contribute as a kicker.

That largely is what his journey is about.

“As I look back, there is a waterfall of gratitude for these experiences, these moments, even these difficult moments,” Tavecchio said, “because I’m rewarded with a glimpse of myself that I think has made me feel like I’m 75 years old with the amount of life I’ve lived.”

Last prospect

There was much to see at the 2012 Cal pro day.

Scouts from across the NFL convened to evaluate the school’s draft-eligible talent. Offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz and linebacker Mychal Kendricks would be drafted in the second round. Punter Bryan Anger went in the third. Three others were selected on the draft’s third day, including wide receiver Marvin Jones by the Cincinnati Bengals as a fifth-round steal.

But zero scouts saw Tavecchio.

As he warmed up to punctuate the afternoon, rain fell on Berkeley. Scouts flipped up their jacket hoods. They lowered their heads to keep their faces dry. Having seen the top prospects, they left the field and retired to the parking lot.

The storm shone light on the last prospect remaining.

Anyone wanting to learn about Tavecchio could have grabbed an umbrella and lingered. They would’ve seen a kicker who spent months training for his March pro day and was determined to complete the workout as if every scout in the league was observing behind binoculars.

“By the time I was done with my set, maybe 45 minutes later, I had kicked probably 30 field goals, a couple kickoffs,” Tavecchio said. “There was just my team chaplain (Kevin Knox) and a couple teammates (kicker Vincenzo D’Amato and punter Jed Barnett). … I noticed (the scouts), but this is one of those things that kickers can understand. You don’t want the circumstances to dictate your behavior or actions.

“I told myself, ‘I’m going to kick during my pro day.’ So, I went to kick for my pro day. If nobody is watching, nobody is watching.”

He went undrafted and signed with the San Francisco 49ers. Their special teams coordinator at the time, Brad Seely, holds the same position with the Raiders now. He was cut before the season. Tavecchio signed with the Green Bay Packers in 2013. He was cut before the season. He signed in 2014 with the Detroit Lions, who cut him before the season. The Raiders added him only to cut him a few days later before the same season.

He has spent the 2015, 2016 and 2017 offseasons with the Raiders.

So far, each has ended the same way.

Still kicking

By many measures, Tavecchio does not need this.

He has a political economy degree, which readily applies to international relations. He has work experience unrelated to cleats, goal posts or holding a bag for 330-pound linemen who knock him on his heels or worse. Last winter, he completed a 12-week training program with MediaMath, an ad technology company, on the 45th floor of the World Trade Center. He had offers to work in the company’s New York or London office.

Yet intrinsically, he does need this.

He must finish this.

Tavecchio is a backup to the longest-running kicker show in the NFL. “Sebastian Janikowski the Raider” first debuted in 2000. The 39-year-old veteran may not be cheap against the salary cap, and he is entering a contract year. But his ability and experience are expected to extend the program into an 18th season.

UC Berkeley would do well to consider Tavecchio for an honorary philosophy degree.

His river of experience affords him perspective.

He understands the paradoxes to his NFL journey. No, he has not kicked in a regular-season game. The longer he is denied the chance, the more he wants it. Still, he recognizes the folly if he makes more of it than what it is. He keeps loose and has fun to prevent the effect of time from consuming him.

In training camp, no one played “Eh, Cumpari!” but he enjoyed himself and considers the summer the strongest of his career.

Likewise, he seeks to appreciate the journey.

If he is released despite his best efforts, a failure of result will not equal a failure in process. He must maintain belief in the latter. In the same breath, he recognizes the binary nature to the NFL. Win or lose. Make a kick or miss it. On the roster or off it.

“Reconciling those two worlds has been a beautiful ride,” Tavecchio said. “It’s been a passion. It’s caused me to suffer. It’s caused me to love. It’s what gets me up every morning. That, and my faith in God, is why I’m still here.”

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Raiders Videos
Raiders players talk about the team's win over Cardinals
After the team defeated the Arizona Cardinals, 23-21, the Oakland Raiders players spoke about the victory in the locker room.
Gruden, Carr discuss the Raiders 23-21 win
Head coach Jon Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr speak to media after the Oakland Raiders defeat the Arizona Cardinals, 23-21.
Vegas Nation: Nelson, Bryant out vs. Arizona
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken reports that the team will be without wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant ahead of their game against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Vegas Nation: Raiders hold indoor walkthrough due to fires
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken reports from smoky Alameda, Calif. as the Raiders move their practice indoors due to the California wildfires.
Las Vegas Raiders Stadium
Las Vegas Raiders Stadium (Raiders)
Vegas Nation: Ateman prepares for NFL debut vs. Cards
Oakland Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken explains how Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant's injuries could result in seventh round pick Marcell Ateman making his NFL debut this Sunday.
Vegas Nation: Nelson, Bryant injured in loss to Chargers
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken examines the injuries to wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant.
Vegas Nation: Chargers Overpower Raiders 20-6
Ed Graney and Michael Gehlken discuss The Raiders loss to the Chargers following the California wildfires and mass shooting
Vegas Nation Mailbag: November 7, 2018
Elaine Emerson and Gilbert Manzano answer questions from fans on the Raiders before they take on the Los Angeles Chargers.
Vegas Nation: Gruden downplays sideline encounter with Guenther
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken reports from Alameda as Jon Gruden addresses the media for the first time a day after their Thursday Night Football loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Dismantled by 49ers 34-3
The Raiders fall to the 49ers following Nick Mullens' impressive debut for San Francisco.
Vegas Nation: Raiders defense looks to improve against 49ers
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken discusses the Raiders defensive woes thus far prior to their Battle of the Bay game against the 49ers.
Vegas Nation Mailbag: Oct. 30, 2018
Elaine Emerson and Gilbert Manzano answer questions from Raider Nation regarding Derek Carr's performance and Jon Gruden.
Vegas Nation: Raiders seek consistent defensive rotation
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken points out a change in the team's defensive rotation from previous games.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Give up 21 Unanswered Points in Loss to Colts
The Oakland Raiders lose to the Colts after being outscored 21-0 in the fourth quarter. Michael Gehlken and Ed Graney report from Oakland.
Vegas Nation: Osemele returns to practice ahead of Colts matchup
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken anticipates that All Pro guard Kelechi Osemele may return against the Indinapolis Colts on Sunday.
Vegas Nation: Doug Martin prepares for heavier workload vs. Colts
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken discusses Doug Martin's increased role as a featured back, as well as what the offensive line's health could potentially mean for Martin's performance.
Vegas Nation: Gruden, Smith come to Carr's defense
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken reports from Alameda, Calif. as members of the team deny reports of a fractured locker room.
Vegas Nation Mailbag: Raiders' Bye Week
Elaine Wilson and Gilbert Manzano go over comments from Raider Nation.
Vegas Nation: Draft Picks to Rebuild
Ed Graney discusses the Amari Cooper trade to the Dallas Cowboys and the future first round picks the Raiders will have.
Las Vegas Stadium Livecam
Vegas Nation Mailbag 10-16-2018
Elaine Wilson and Gilbert Manzano discuss The Raiders 27-3 loss to the Seahawks in London as The Raiders enter their bye week.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Fall To Seahawks; Cooper Out With Concussion
Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken, Sports Columnist Ed Graney and sports writer Gilbert Manzano go over the Raiders loss to the Seattle Seahawks in London.
Derek Carr says the team will focus on improving – Heidi Fang
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr says the team will do what's necessary to improve following its 27-3 loss in London to the Seattle Seahawks.
Raiders Adopt Student Resource Room At Robert Taylor Elementary School In Henderson
Former Raiders player Leo Gray and Robert Taylor Elementary School principal Kim Basham talk about the new resource room at the school on Sept. 25, 2018 in Henderson, Nevada. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
More information on design of Raiders' practice facility in Henderson
Officials plan to finish the Raiders' Henderson headquarters by spring 2020. The planned facility would be home to offices, training facilities and 4 1/2 football fields.
Vegas Nation: Raiders fall short in Week 1 to the Rams
Bryan Salmond and Gilbert Manzano are in studio recapping the first game of 2018 for the Oakland Raiders. Michael Gehlken and Ed Graney report from Oakland.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like