Two Pair, Sevens and Aces: Bill (left) and Martin Gramatica made NFL history on Sunday with consecutive overtime field goals
Matt Bahr, the great Oakland Raiders kicker, never made a call like this to his brother, Chris.
Tony Zendejas was the NFL's best kicker in 1991, when he became the first player with a 100% field goal percentage for an entire season. He had many career highlights to celebrate with his family, but he never stepped off a plane and phoned one of his three NFL kicking brothers with news of this sort.
Of course, Zendejas probably didn't carry a cell phone in the early '90s, but that's beside the point. What is the point? There have been placekicking siblings in the NFL at the same time before – brothers-in-legs? – but none had ever before accomplished what Martin and Bill Gramatica pulled off on Sunday.
For the first time in NFL history, two brothers booted overtime field goals on the same day, as Martin won the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game in 'dramatica' fashion at 4:20 p.m. ET and his younger brother, Bill, repeated the feat at 7:44 p.m. ET for the Arizona Cardinals.
Both Gramaticas were on the road. Martin's 21-yard kick ended an overtime affair in Cincinnati one play after S John Lynch forced and recovered a fumble at the Bengals' three-yard line. Bill's kick came three plays after Oakland Raiders return man Damon Dunn muffed a punt and was under even more intense circumstances, what with 36 yards, a tough wind and that gracious Oakland crowd in his face.
Martin was 40,000 feet in the air when Bill helped him make history, as the Bucs' charter flight returned to Tampa. In a family as extremely tight-knit as the Gramatica's – Bill's parents have moved to Arizona this year to help him adjust to the NFL – it was only natural for Martin to call his younger brother as soon as the Bucs landed. The news of Bill's clutch kick surprised and thrilled the older brother.
"I called him as soon as we landed and he was just about getting done," said Martin. "I talked to him pretty soon after the game. We talked about our games and how we felt. It was neat.
"They were both exciting at their own time - mine because I didn't have a great game so it was nice to be able to make a kick and help the team," Martin said. "Then, when I heard about Bill's, it was unbelievable. The last I heard, they were up 20-7, so I never thought it would go to overtime. So when I heard he had made the game-winning kick, it was just awesome."
The two compared their feelings, but not the difficulties of their kicks or their respective efforts. Bill, a product of Tampa's University of South Florida, made four of five field goals on the day to give the Cardinals' 12 of their 34 points in a three-point upset of the AFC-West leading Raiders. Martin, the NFC's 2000 Pro Bowl kicker, missed two kicks in a game for the first time in his three-year career, but made three others, including a 48-yarder off a sandy turf in the third quarter.
"I talked to him right after I got out of the locker room," said Bill. "I called him and he had just landed back in Tampa and found out about my kick. He was pretty excited himself. He was happy for me and I was happy for him. We don't care who beats out whom in terms of stats, we are always pulling for each other."
Martin and Bill have another brother, Santiago, a freshman at USF that Martin claims has the most kicking talent in the family. Before Bill was drafted by the Cardinals last April and Santiago began kicking for the Bulls, the three were often together at the Bucs' headquarters. Their parents are also welcome guests at One Buc Place. The Gramaticas have been fortunate to land on teams that reflect their own tight family connections.
"He landed on a team that is very comparable to the Bucs," said Martin of his brother's NFL home. "The only team he knew before Arizona was Tampa Bay, and how close the organization is and the players and coaches, how nice everybody is. Then he got to Arizona and it's the same way, so it really wasn't a shock for him. He feels right at home and is very comfortable there."
The two brothers, however, have made life very uncomfortable for their parents in recent weeks. Before going to Cincinnati, the Bucs played before a national audience on Monday Night Football in another game that wasn't decided until the closing seconds. The Cardinals were also on their second straight road trip, having played a barn-burner in San Diego the weekend before. All four games were Gramatica victories, however, and Bill even kicked another clutch game-winner against the Chargers, a 42-yarder with 1:53 remaining.
"My parents were so nervous for us, two games in a row into overtime," said Bill. "It's bad enough when one goes into overtime one week, but to have it twice in one week? My parents aged 10 years yesterday."
That's nothing compared to what could happen if – are you thinking what I'm thinking – the Bucs and Cardinals square off in a squeaker somewhere down the line. The Bucs aren't scheduled to play Arizona until 2004, in Phoenix, unless both teams finish in the same spot in their division this season, in which case they could match up in Tampa next fall.
If such a contest went into overtime, only one Gramatica brother could get the pleasure of winning one for his team.
"I've been asked that a lot, but let's wait until we get to that moment and I'll tell you what I'm thinking," Bill laughed.
Martin didn't even want to go that far. "That will never happen," he claimed.
He's probably right. Then again, the same thing could have been said about two brothers finding NFL overtime heaven on the same day, until the Gramaticas changed all that on Sunday.