Derek Jeter

Penn State kicker Sam Ficken and the Derek Jeter connection


Penn State kicker Sam Ficken has been through plenty of ups and downs during his time in State College. A kicker who got off to a poor start as Penn State’s kicker turned things around in a big way as he became one of the most reliable kickers in the nation. His career at Penn State could not have ended in a more perfect way.

On Saturday, Ficken played his final game as a Nittany Lion. He did so by ending his career with a walk-off extra point in Yankee Stadium in the Pinstripe Bowl, giving Penn State a wild 31-30 victory over Boston College in overtime. As Ficken’s last point-after attempt went through the uprights, it was soon learned Ficken was using the locker of former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. Comparing football players to baseball players is often a silly thing to do, unless they happen to be Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders, but the narrative was too good to avoid for many.

Like Jeter, Ficken was a team captain. Like Ficken, Jeter recorded a game-winning walk-off play in his final at-bat in Yankee Stadium. The narrative can sometimes write itself and go overboard, but perhaps there was a small bit of foreshadowing written in Jeter’s final at-bat in a home Yankees uniform. Who could forget the iconic photo of Jeter leaping into the air in celebration following the game-winning hit against the Baltimore Orioles on September 25, 2014?

Take another look at that photo, and you will see some perfectly executed product placement for the Big Ten tat was put up in Yankee Stadium during the baseball season due to the conference’s expansion and additions of Rutgers and Maryland.

Jim Delany could not have planned that any better, but sometimes the narrative just finds a way to write itself.