EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Failing on the football field last season might have been the best thing that happened to New York Giants’ placekicker Josh Brown.
It forced the 34-year-old who is about to enter his 11th NFL season to re-examine not only his kicking, but everything in his life after being unemployed most of the 2012 season.
The review started with his placekicking. Did he lose the job with the Jets to Nick Folk because of his work ethic or something else?
And if his kicking wasn’t good enough, was he ready to handle retirement? Did he save enough? Was there money for him and his wife and three children, who still have college in front of them?
It can be scary stuff. For Brown, it turned out to be motivation.
"I had to take a negative and turn it into a positive," Brown said Wednesday before practice. "I had to go backward to go forward. It’s been not only an awakening to what I have not been doing professionally, also off the field. It translated to everything. I had to change a lot of things from married life to how you parent your children. Standards had to go up for me to change everything that had happened."
Brown didn’t have an easy 2012.
In fact, it was a very strange season for placekickers. Most did well and there were very few changes.
Brown got tryouts with Arizona and Washington but didn’t get a job even though he kicked well in the tryouts.
The Giants signed him after failing to come to an agreement with unrestricted free agent Lawrence Tynes, who was their kicker for their Super Bowl wins after the 2007 and 2011 seasons.
Coming to the Giants had its advantages. Brown had worked with punter and holder Steve Weatherford for almost four years training in the offseason in San Diego. Long snapper Zak DeOssie is a Pro Bowler.
Weatherford said Brown’s work ethic is second to none, a comment that made Brown smile.
"That’s since the change," Brown said of the work routine he has developed since being cut last season. "That was a humbling experience. I have to give credit to Nick Folk. He came in very prepared and very determined. I was determined, but I thought I am going to go ahead and win this. There was a great amount of arrogance and not enough respect for him. I had to go through that and that was hard."
Brown not only works harder, he also spends a lot more attention to how much money he saves. He now knows life as a placekicker isn’t guaranteed.
"Since I was 6-years-old I always beat everybody," he said. "Every athlete in this league, unless you are a humble person or understand humility, that’s pretty much been your life. You have been the best of the best as long as you have played sports. It was the biggest help of my life to be humbled."
Brown hit field goals of 23, 30 and 47 yards in the Giants’ 18-13 preseason win over Pittsburgh on Saturday. He missed from 38 yards, a range he knows he has to convert.
"If you watch film, I look like a total different human being," Brown said of the misfire. "For one moment I allowed something to get in the way of my focus. This is part of the preseason, part of that training of being diligent every moment that you have. Every opportunity may be your last moment."
When a kicker misses from that range, Brown said it might cause the coaches to think they can’t deal with instability, and makes them look for another kicker.
"You can never give anyone that opportunity to kick you out," Brown said firmly.