**Signed to the practice squad Friday, promoted to the active roster Saturday, and making NFL history on Sunday.
Not a bad 72 hours for Giorgio Tavecchio, eh?
It’s been a long road for Italian placekicker, and the journey took an oh so sweet pit stop Sunday afternoon in Nashville, as Tavecchio connected on all six of his kicks against the Tennessee Titans – four field goals and a pair of extra points – en route to the Raiders flying back to Northern California with a 26-16 win in tow.
“I’ve been dreaming about this moment for a very long time,” said Tavecchio postgame. “Special. I’m feeling gratitude, catharsis, there’s a kind of duality to the moment. You spend so much time waiting, hoping, imagining it, dreaming it, and then what it happens, it’s not necessarily anticlimactic, but you can’t be too caught up in the moment for what it means to you. In the end, this isn’t about me, this is about the Raiders playing the Tennessee Titans, and I’m just grateful I got the chance to contribute.”
And contribute he did.
Not only did Tavecchio’s 14 points against the Titans set a franchise record for the most points in a debut, but his two field goals of 50-plus yards marked the first time any player had accomplished that feat since the AFL-NFL merger.
That type of day would make even the most veteran of kickers crack a smile, but for Tavecchio – who has been in NFL training camps since 2012, but never kicked in a regular season game – the day meant so much more.
Add on Head Coach Jack Del Rio presenting him with the commemorative game ball, and now you have a once in a lifetime moment on your hands.
“It’s special,” Tavecchio explained. “In fact, what I said was I’ve been dreaming about this for a long time, and to see your smiling faces means the world to me. [When] these big o-linemen that have been battling all game, turn to you, and just be so happy because you contributed, that’s what I do this for.”
Now, to be clear, as good of a story as Tavecchio’s journey from journeyman kicker to Week 1 hero is – and let’s clear, it’s a really good one – the Italian national certainly earned his keep Sunday, connecting on a pair of 52-yard attempts, as well as 43-yard strike, and one chip shot from 20 for good measure.
“Giorgio, he had a great day, first game in the NFL, couldn’t be more proud, happy for the guy,” long snapper Jon Condo said. “He’s been in camps for the past five years or so, and he had a vision, he had a goal to always be prepared… He’s doing the right things. He’s visualizing his kicks, and steps, and did a great job. The team needed him today.”
While much has been made about the hectic week that Tavecchio has had, the addition of a kicker not named Sebastian Janikowski into the fold could have presented some issues for Condo as well as punter Marquette King who handles the holding duties for the team.
However, with Tavecchio having spent the past three preseasons with the Silver and Black, there thankfully wasn’t any need to deal with a rushed attempt at building trust with a new kicker.
“If we were working with a new kicker, there would be a trust factor in there, but because the three of us worked before, there’s some familiarity amongst us,” Condo explained. “We know one another. Like I said, Seabass [Sebastian Janikowski] and Giorgio have different styles in how they approach, and stuff like that, and I know what I have to do with Giorgio to prepare myself to snap the ball. We’re pros. We’re professionals, and you have to be able to adjust. Next-man-up mentality.”
With Janikowski on the Reserve/Injured list for the foreseeable future, Tavecchio will likely continue his NFL career in Silver and Black next weekend at home against the New York Jets.
And however long the journey lasts, you can bet that Tavecchio will be savoring every moment.
“Aristotle said anticipation can be the greatest form of pleasure,” Tavecchio explained. “So I think in my mind, it was a little exaggerated, but the reality of the moment is sweet, and that’s something that’s may be a little subtle, but it’s special, and I can look back on this time, when all this is said and done, and just be grateful for this day.”