The Italian American stars in US sports: Giorgio Tavecchio
- WTI Magazine #108 Oct 20, 2018
Giorgio Tavecchio is the 14th Italian to play in the National Football League. Before him Ralph D. Vince, Giovanni A. Bonadies, Giuseppe "Scanlon" Santone and Rocco Segretta in the 1920s; Giuseppe "Jumping Joe" Savoldi and Domenico Cara in the 1930s; Enio Conti, Bruno Banducci, Francesco Gaziano and Pietro Gorgone in the 1940s; Leo Nomellini in the 1950s; Sandro Vitiello and Massimo Manca in the 1980s.
Some of them only played a few games, but they did so together with the pioneers of pro football in America; others had significant careers and, two of them, reached the threshold or even got inside the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After a long break of more than twenty years, an athlete born in Italy (Milan) and raised in California makes his debut among the professionals of the most competitive championship in the world, that of the NFL.
Tavecchio was born in Milan on July 16, 1990, his father from Milan and his mother an Italian American. He spends his childhood and adolescence in the United States before settling in California. There, at the Campolindo high school in Moraga, he develops his kicker skills; with his diploma comes the proposal of the University of California in Berkeley (Cal), with a glorious past in college football (4 national titles in the 20s of '900 and one in 1938); the Golden Bears team has also won a good number of Conference titles and given a fair number of players to the NFL.
Tavecchio plays at Cal from 2008 to 2011, being the 5th best scorer in the history of the university with a score of 256 points in his career and as the best scorer of 2011 with 96 points; in 2011 he plays the Holiday Bowl scoring a FG of 47 yards.
In the summer of 2012, after a series of camps, he is selected by the San Francisco 49ers, without being able to enter the roster at the beginning of the season. The following year he is called by the Green Bay Packers for preseason matches and, despite a good performance, just before the first game of the regular season they prefer to hire a a more experienced kicker, one sure to perform.
This happens again in the 2014 season with the Detroit Lions. Tavecchio proves to have a great perseverance and to believe in his means; in February 2015, the Oakland Raiders call him back after having already cut him once, with the prospect of replacing the battered veteran kicker Sebastian Janikowski, and for Giorgio begins a long back and forth. The D-day kicks off on September 10, 2017: at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Oakland beat Tennessee away and Tavecchio is finally on the field with the number 2 jersey, scoring 2 FG of over 50 yards. For this performance he is awarded as best player of the special AFC teams of the week and receives the ball of the match by coach Jack Del Rio. His speech to his companions is: "I have dreamed of this moment for years. It means so much to be able to share it with all of you. Seeing your smiling faces repays all the hard work, difficulties and sacrifices".
In the next 6 games Tavecchio scores all field goal attempts and then, in the ninth round against Miami Dolphins, sets a new personal record by scoring a 53-yard FG; he closes the regular season scoring 16 FG out of 21 with a percentage of 72.6 and 33 XP out of 34. In the post season the American media talk about him in a positive way, while the Italian ones do not hide an understandable pride. Giovanni Marino, a journalist of the Italian newspaper Repubblica, writes: "Giorgio is a young man with strong values, in evident growth of competitive technique, and he is a serious and passionate player".
During the break Giorgio Tavecchio goes to Italy, taking part in a camp in Turin and then visiting the Pinetina system of Inter FC, the soccer team he roots for, before resuming the training camp. At the end of the summer preparation comes the unpleasant surprise: after the summer training the Italian kicker is cut by the Raiders, because the renewed coaching staff prefers to confirm a rookie chosen in spring (it should be noted that the first days of the regular season have not given any reason to the choices of the new head coach ...).
On August 27, 2018 Tavecchio signs with the Atlanta Falcons knowing that, most likely, he will be used only for the last game of preseason pending the recovery of the strong kicker holder. 5 days later, on September 1st, he is released and Giorgio's dream suffers another setback. But then again, life happens: the Atlanta Falcons announce on October 16 that they have signed again kicker Giorgio Tavecchio. The move comes two days after Pro Bowl kicker Matt Bryant injured his hamstring while kicking a 57-yard field goal in the Falcons' 34-29 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
All this despite what is considered his limit: he is a left kick, and this causes some problems in the position of his holder.
August 5, 2018: Oakland Raiders cut K Giorgio Tavecchio.
August 4, 2018: Oakland Raiders waived K Giorgio Tavecchio.
March 17, 2018: Oakland Raiders re-signed K Giorgio Tavecchio to one-year, $550,000 contract.
September 9, 2017: Oakland Raiders activated K Giorgio Tavecchio from the practice squad.
September 8, 2017: Oakland Raiders added K Giorgio Tavecchio to the practice squad.
September 3, 2017: Oakland Raiders cut K Giorgio Tavecchio.
April 19, 2017: Oakland Raiders re-signed K Giorgio Tavecchio.
August 30, 2016: Oakland Raiders cut K Giorgio Tavecchio.
August 29, 2016: Oakland Raiders waived K Giorgio Tavecchio.
January 5, 2016: Oakland Raiders signed K Giorgio Tavecchio to a Reserve/Future contract.
September 6, 2015: Oakland Raiders cut K Giorgio Tavecchio.
September 5, 2015: Oakland Raiders waived K Giorgio Tavecchio.
February 24, 2015: Oakland Raiders signed K Giorgio Tavecchio.
August 31, 2014: Oakland Raiders cut K Giorgio Tavecchio.
August 30, 2014: Oakland Raiders waived K Giorgio Tavecchio.
August 26, 2014: Oakland Raiders acquired K Giorgio Tavecchio off waivers from the Detroit Lions.
August 25, 2014: Detroit Lions waived K Giorgio Tavecchio.
December 31, 2013: Detroit Lions signed K Giorgio Tavecchio to a reserve/future contract.
March 26, 2013: Green Bay Packers signed K Giorgio Tavecchio.
August 27, 2012: San Francisco 49ers cut K Giorgio Tavecchio.