Originally published in the Arizona Republic (www.azcentral.com), February 4th 2006

Ex-kicker brings fresh air to air
PV resident's radio show deals with pressure, setbacks

Doug Haller

The Arizona Republic
Feb. 4, 2006 12:00 AM

In the basement of a Fountain Hills home, former NFL kicker Nick Lowery calls up the Web site for his radio show and clicks on a link.

The voice of former quarterback Phil Simms fills the room, a conversation that took place on a previous edition of Lowery's Headgames Radio show.

"If I could do it over again, I would probably do it differently," Simms says. "I'd be a little more involved. By more involved, I mean guiding my oldest son more, who's at Tampa Bay. I'd tell him more about being a player, about what's going to happen at the next level, and I'd help him with those decisions."

The audio clip finishes, and Lowery turns from his computer and says, "That's a great admission."

These are the moments Lowery thrives to capture, moments that can be scooped off the playing field and applied to everyday life of everyday people. A Paradise Valley resident, Lowery hosts an hourlong radio show Monday through Friday on Sirius Satellite Radio.

His goal is to help people make better decisions so they "perform under pressure when it matters most." His regularly scheduled guests include the director of the center for enhanced performance at the U.S. Military Academy, the professor of sports ethics at Rice University and a licensed psychologist in California.

But he also has interviewed sports celebrities Dennis Eckersley, Emmitt Smith, Dick Vermeil, Charles Barkley and Marcus Allen.

They discuss dealing with pressure and setbacks. An October show focused on Houston Astros closer Brad Lidge, who gave up a game-ending home run in the playoffs. A show two weeks ago focused on Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy and the sudden death of his son.

"We do this for a reason," Lowery said. "That's what is missing from a lot of sports talk radio."

Lowery, 49, is his own example. His illustrious career almost never got off the kicking tee. He was cut 11 times by eight teams. In 1980, he had finally had enough, and took a government job in Washington, D.C. That's it, he thought. No more football. Then the phone rang.

It was Jim Schaaf, general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, calling from a hospital. He was about to have back surgery, but he wanted to know if Lowery wanted a roster spot.

"Thanks," Lowery told him, "but I already got a good job."

He hung up and realized his mistake. "What have I done?" Lowery thought.

He tracked down Schaaf at the hospital and told him he would report. Lowery spent the next 17 years in the NFL, setting 19 team records with the Chiefs, making three Pro Bowls and establishing an NFL standard for field-goal accuracy (which has since been broken).

The lesson learned: The importance of not giving up. Hanging in there during the low times, and excelling when given the opportunity.

"You just have to put yourself out there over and over again," Lowery said, a theme that surfaces often on his radio show.