Female NFL hopeful kicker injured in tryout

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. Lauren Silberman lined up for a kick at NFL history, took a deep breath and booted the football.

It barely went anywhere, traveling 19 yards, and she grabbed at her right leg.

Still, it was good enough to make her the first woman to try out at a regional combine, even if her day lasted all of two kicks.

With the 36 other kickers -- all male -- a handful of scouts and more than two dozen media watching in complete silence at the New York Jets' practice facility, Silberman struggled for about 20 seconds to place the football on the tee before measuring her steps and then trying that second kick.

This one went only about 13 yards.

She then asked to see a trainer and left the practice field after injuring her quadriceps, and appeared to be slightly favoring her right leg.

"They certainly didn't go as far as they were in practices," Silberman said, "but I tried to work through the pain."

The 28-year-old Silberman said she hurt her quadriceps while preparing for the tryout earlier in the week, and attributed her struggles to that.

"I tried staying off it and waited for today," she said. "I didn't even take kicks in warm-ups, and, it's pretty hard to know that you'll be in pain, and I wanted to work through it and I certainly tried to, but I just couldn't do it today."

Silberman, a former club soccer player at Wisconsin and ex-graduate student at MIT, appeared frustrated she couldn't complete her tryout.

"I've always been an athlete, and I've always been a gamer," she said while fighting back tears. "When I had the opportunity to be in the NFL, one of the world's most competitive leagues, I absolutely had to take the chance."

While some fans on Twitter have praised her for breaking through in a male-dominated sport, others wondered if this was just a mere publicity stunt. Regardless, the NFL got plenty of publicity on a Sunday in March for one of its regional combines -- something that normally is ignored by most media.

"I'm just really happy I had this amazing experience," Silberman said. "I might be the first woman trying out for the NFL, but I certainly hope I'm not the last."

While she never kicked a football in a competitive game, the NFL said Silberman qualified for the regional combine because of her athletic background.

"Our job is to evaluate talent and not leave any stone unturned," said Stephen Austin, the NFL's director of regional combines. "We want young, athletic people who have played a sport, typically in college or military or small schools."

The regional combines debuted in 2011, and include players who weren't among the 333 invited to the main combine in Indianapolis. The NFL is holding these sessions in 10 cities this offseason, with the most impressive players advancing to a super-regional in April in Dallas.

Silberman paid a registration fee -- about $275 -- and just needed to show up Sunday and take her best shot at impressing scouts.

"Until they get here, we don't have any idea of what they're really going to turn out to do and how they're going to perform," Austin said.

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