Sixty-four yards: Where is the ticker-tape parade?

Maybe I have just been looking at the wrong places. But it seems as if relatively little fanfare was given the phenomenal accomplishment Sunday inside the awful-sounding Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

No, I am not talking about the 51-28 shellacking that the Tennessee Titans was given at the hands of the Denver Broncos. And the nearly 500 yards passing by Peyton Manning? Forget about it. What did I say last year about the vaunted Denver quarterback? Uh, I said Manning might night not recover sufficiently from his neck surgery to start this year and if so, perhaps he shouldn’t considering the danger. Of course, I also said this was the year for a Houston Texans trip to the Super Bowl. That won’t happen. In fact it is looking more and more like Denver could just be the AFL half of the Super Duo this year although we have a few weeks to see how that plays out.

What did happen was that Denver kicker Matt Prater broke the 43-year-old field goal record held by the New Orleans Saints’ Tom Dempsey. Prater nailed a 64-footer just prior to the end of the first half to narrow the lead Tennessee held by 1 point. Perhaps, the latest record-breaking kick was not at dramatic as when Dempsey, who was born with half of his kicking foot, kicked the 63-yarder in the last two seconds of the November 1970 New Orleans-Detroit game giving the Saints a win. Wins were hard to come by for the “Ain’ts” back then. Remember the fans wearing paper bags over their heads?

The record-breaker in Denver apparently wasn’t even that dramatic to Prater, the 5-feet 10-inch, 195-pound Central Florida alumni, who ironically first played for Detroit as an unsigned free agent.

Prater said in interviews that he was late lining up because he had not heard the field goal unit being called. With three seconds to go in the half, he did not know until surveying the landscape that he was kicking for a record. This might have helped reign in any anxiety produced by such circumstances.

Of course, any time a record is broken it is analyzed 14 ways come February. There is the matter of the field “at Mile High,” being a mile high. Or close enough. The Sports Authority Stadium is less than 50 feet from the original Mile High Stadium — later Invesco Field at Mile High — which was at one mile high. The current field is supposedly 80 feet less in altitude. But regardless of the actual field altitude there are laws of physics that apply when up that high above sea level.

What is undeniable is that two of the three kickers who tied the previous record held by Dempsey made their kicks at Denver. That the thinner air affects the aerodynamics of a football in flight is pretty well agreed upon. Of course, cold weather also can affect how far a ball will travel and Prater’s kick was in below freezing temperatures. Prater pointed out that the cold weather may have negated any positive effects from the elevation. Some scientists estimate the altitude at Mile High might account for as many as seven extra yards on kickoffs though kickoffs and field goals are hardly the same apple.

Perhaps I am guilty of a so-called “straw man” argument. That being I didn’t see much hubbub over this record-breaking accomplishment while I seriously doubt that is true. Perhaps I sound as if a great pyramid should be built over a matter of only one foot. But keep this in mind: Only three people tied the record in the four decades after Dempsey made the tremendous kick in Tulane University Stadium. No one broke the record until today (Well, yesterday, actually.)

Yes, things were different then. The goalposts were not moved to the back of the end zone until four years after Dempsey set his record. And unlike these days when a kicker’s job is to, well, kick, Dempsey played on other squads in his career including the offensive line and on special teams. The latter reason is why we may not hear of his reaction to his record being finally broken is because he has been diagnosed with dementia, likely linked to taking numerous hits over time.

One should not be hard-pressed to see for themselves why the kick Prater made Sunday might have been worthy of more awe, or at least why it has mine. Take a look from a real football field, or even on televised games. Then take in the view from behind the kicker going for a 50-foot-plus attempt to all the way down the field to the uprights. And look down at the little object — 11 inches from tip-to-tip, and when inflated to about 13 psi, has a center circumference of about 22 inches — that will be snapped to the holder.

As my homies back in East Texas used to say: “That’s a pretty fer damn piece.”