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
Vegas Nation: Gruden Gives "Final Exams"
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over the Raiders improvement throughout training and how Gruden has been pushing the Raiders.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Deciding On Opening Day Kicker
Raiders beat reporter Michael Gehlken and Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney go over he Raiders choosing an opening day kicker and Doug Martin's potential.
Vegas Nation: Mandatory Mini Camp
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond, Raiders beat writer Micheal Gehlken and Review-Journal sports writer Ed Graney go over day one of the Raiders mini camp.
Vegas Nation: Derrick Johnson standing out at OTAs
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over the Raiders OTAs and how the team is adjusting to new coaching style of head coach Jon Gruden.
Vegas Nation: Week Two Of OTA's
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over the start of week two of the Raiders OTA's.
Vegas Nation: NFL Owners Meeting Day 2
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal sports writer Gilbert Manzano go over the NFL owners meeting.
Las Vegas Stadium construction site drone footage
The Raiders set up a drone at the Las Vegas Stadium construction site on May 20, 2018.
Las Vegas Stadium Milestones
Las Vegas Stadium Milestones as of May 16, 2018.
Vegas Nation: NFL Owners Meeting Day 1
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Review-Journal sports writer Gilbert Manzano go over the NFL owners meeting.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Participate In First Day Of Practice
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over the Raiders first day of practice.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Minicamp
Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken goes over the Raiders minicamp and questions surrounding the Raiders picking defensive lineman Maurice Hurst from Michigan.
P.J. Hall, Maurice Hurst and Jon Gruden Talk About Mini Camp
P.J. Hall, Maurice Hurst and Jon Gruden go over the Raiders Mini camp.
Reggie McKenzie On Final Day Of NFL Draft
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie talks about the Raiders final draft picks.
Vegas Nation: Raiders Final Draft Picks
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond, Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken and Review-Journal reporter Gilbert Manzano go over the last day of the draft pick for the Raiders.
Gruden On Day Two Of Nfl Draft Picks
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden discusses the teams second day draft picks.
Raiders trade again, draft DT P.J. Hall and OT Brandon Parker
Raiders trade again and draft DT P.J. Hall and OT Brandon Parker. The team moved back again Friday, this time exchanging the No. 41 overall pick for the No. 57 selection. It then selected former Sam Houston State defensive tackle P.J. Hall. The Raiders parted with No. 75, trading up 10 spots to select former North Carolina A&T offensive tackle Brandon Parker.
Gruden On Bryant Joining Raiders, Bryant On What He Has Left To Prove
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden talks about what Bryant will bring to the Raiders and Bryant talks about what he has left to prove.
Gruden, Miller On First Round Pick
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden and first round pick Kolton Miller talk about the NFL draft first round pick for the Raiders.
Las Vegas Raiders Stadium can help economic boom, expert says
Study after study has concluded that stadiums aren’t effective economic development drivers. But a leading urban growth researcher says Orlando and Las Vegas are exceptions because of the strength of their regions’ tourism economies. The Raiders are building a 65,000-seat, $1.8 billion indoor stadium at Interstate 15 and Russell Road using $750 million of public money authorized by the Nevada Legislature. Las Vegas has a leg up on many cities, because it has an airport at which business people can catch a nonstop flight to virtually any domestic destination. Panelist Cathy Tull, chief marketing officer of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, said the presence of out-of-town media for playoff games featuring the Vegas Golden Knights has given the city media mentions that money can’t buy. Another issue receiving the panel’s attention is the need for mass transit with all the teams, venues and anticipated visitation they will generate. Panelists also discussed the prospect of attracting big events like the Super Bowl, the NFL draft and NCAA tournaments.
Reggie Mckenzie On Raiders First Draft Pick
Raiders general manager Reggie Mckenzie on Raiders first draft pick.
Vegas Nation: First Round NFL Draft Pick
Vegas Nation host Bryan Salmond, Review-Journal writer Gilbert Manzano and Raiders beat writer Michael Gelhken go over the first round of the NFL draft picks and the Raiders choices.
Vegas Nation: NFL Draft preview
Bryan Salmond and Michael Gehlken breakdown the Raiders offseason moves as well as what they could be looking at in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Vegas Nation: Wide Receiver
Vegas Nation video host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken look at the wide receiver position for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Vegas Nation: Raiders secondary
Vegas Nation video host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken look at the Raiders secondary for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Vegas Nation: Running Back position
Vegas Nation video host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken look at the running back position for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Vegas Nation: Join Vegas Nation for NFL Draft updates
Vegas Nation video host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken will provide updates about everything surrounding this year's NFL Draft.
Vegas Nation: NFL Draft: Defensive Line
Vegas Nation video host Bryan Salmond and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken discuss the defensive line and what can happen in the 2018 NFL Draft.
David Humm's life celebrated at South Point
Raiders owner Mark Davis, former Nebraska coach Tom Osborne were among those who paid tribute to David Humm during a ceremony at South Point Arena in Las Vegas on April 6, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review Journal)
Vegas Nation Stadium Show
Ed Graney, Rick Velotta and Raiders beat writer Michael Gehlken go over the progress on the Vegas Stadium and how it will affect some of the players and staff.
Vegas Nation: Gruden hoping free agents can establish culture
Michael Gehlken reports from the NFL Meetings in Orlando, including what the Raiders are doing there as well as what Jon Gruden meant by "throwing it back to 1998."
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like