DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Lions are giving a Norwegian Internet kicking sensation a shot to make the team.
Detroit signed kicker Havard Rugland on Thursday, declining to disclose details of the deal.
With the move, the Lions seem to be giving newly acquired kicker David Akers some competition or at least provide some depth at the position for practice. Detroit recently signed Akers soon after Jason Hanson retired.
A trick-shot video — called “Kickalicious” — Rugland posted in September has more than 2.7 million views. The video shows him kicking and punting a football through uprights from as far away as 60 yards, from straight on and also from incredible angles. He also kicks a ball to a friend on a boat on a lake, in a moving car, on a skateboard, on a railroad bridge, on a hill, on a bluff overlooking a beach and over trees.
Rugland played amateur soccer in his native Norway before taking an interest in football in 2011 after watching the Super Bowl. He had tryouts for the Lions and New York Jets and has been working out at Michael Husted’s pro kicking camp in Florida.
The 6-foot-2, 240-pound Rugland said last month that his tryout with the Lions went well even though he tweaked the hamstring in his powerful left leg. He’s refined his kicking motion while working with Husted in San Diego since having a tryout with the Jets in December.
Husted has said he’s heard from Jan Stenerud, the only pure kicker in the Hall of Fame and also from Norway.
“I grew up idolizing Jan Stenerud as a kid,” Husted said last month. “He’s excited to see another Norwegian have an opportunity to make it in the NFL.”
Rugland is trying to take a similar route to the NFL as Darren Bennett. The former Australian Rules Football player became a two-time Pro Bowl punter for the San Diego Chargers in the mid-1990s.
“Of course I wouldn’t mind having a career like him,” Rugland said. “That’s a lot to hope for.”