ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Havard Rugland has not missed a kick in game-like conditions during Detroit Lions training camp, including a 58-yard field goal that got everyone’s attention that saw or heard it.
“That big boot? He’s legit,” teammate Nate Burleson said. “Kickalicious is for real. He isn’t just an Internet sensation.”
Even though the Norwegian made all 11 of his field goals in 11-on-11 situations in a three-day period, he still seems like a longshot to beat out David Akers.
“He’s done an impressive job, but I don’t want to get out ahead of ourselves,” Lions general manager Martin Mayhew said Tuesday. “He’s never played in a National Football League game. He hasn’t played a preseason game. I’d like to see him do that before we start making a judgment on him.”
Rugland, though, has created quite a buzz with his strong leg and unique story that includes being in an NFL training camp a year after working at a child protective services facility in Norway.
He recently posed for a photo shoot and after each practice, fans clamor for him to sign autographs and pose for pictures.
“It’s kind of surreal,” he said. “A year ago, I was kicking all alone in Norway. And suddenly, I’m here.”
Rugland acknowledged that a YouTube video he posted last September, which had been viewed more than 4.5 million times by Tuesday afternoon, opened the door for his opportunities in the NFL.
Kicking a football to a friend on a boat in a lake, in a moving car or on a skateboard led to tryouts with the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns and Lions, the only team to offer the 28-year-old Rugland a contract.
“I would not have this chance if not for the YouTube video,” he said. “But when I was at tryouts, I couldn’t just show them a video link to get a job. I had to show I could kick.”