Former Houston Texans punter Shane Lechler called it a career on Saturday, playing a total of 18 seasons in the NFL, five with the Texans.
Most punters in the NFL are under-the-radar and sometimes forgotten members of their respective teams, but not Shane Lechler and not when he was a member of the Houston Texans. Only playing for the Texans for five seasons, Lechler was one of the, if not the best, punters in the NFL and his numbers showed just that.
A longtime punter, Lechler, played from 2013-17 with the Texans, were he took part in 80 regular season games, where his longest punt in his time with the Texans was 71 yards in 2014. For his time with the Texans, Lechler also led the league in punting yards with 4,507 yards on 92 punts in the 2017 season, which was his final season in the NFL.
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Even in his final NFL season, Lechler had a punt of 68 yards and averaged 49 yards per punt at 41-years old.
Lechler began his NFL career back in 2000 when he was selected in the fifth round of the 2000 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders, playing for them from 2000-12.
In those 13 seasons in Oakland, Lechler led the league in punting yards on four occasions, and yards per punt five occasions. Lechler’s longest career punt was 80 yards as twice in his time with the Raiders.
Peter King in his Football Morning In America column on NBCSports.com wrote this of Lechler and his chances of becoming a Pro Football Hall of Fame selection.
"“I believe Shane Lechler is a Hall of Fame player, and not just because his 47.6-yard average over 18 seasons is the best yards-per-punt average in NFL history. What always impressed me about Lechler was his incredible consistency.”"
King is correct in that Lechler is a Hall of Fame player for what he did with the Raiders and Texans, and eventually Lechler will be selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Now the question is will be be a first ballot Hall of Fame selection? The only punter in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is Ray Guy who played from 1973-86 which in 14 seasons he averaged 42.4 yards per punt.
Lechler in his 18 seasons averaged 47.6 yards per punt. For his career, Lechler was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame All-2000s team, the 2000 NFL All-Rookie Team, a seven-time Pro Bowl selection, and a six-time first-team All-Pro selection.
Five years from now it will be interesting to see if Lechler is selected as a first-ballot Hall of Famer, though eventually one day the former Raiders and Texans punter will be selected in the Hall of Fame, and some of that selection will be for what he achieved with the Texans.