KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Sam Ficken went to work Monday morning with his nose in a book preparing for a test at work yet on Friday night he spent the evening at his side job — kicking in the NFL.
“I was at work in Greenwich, Conn.,” Ficken explained when asked where he received his summons to Kansas City. “I work at a broker-dealer. We do block trading. I was actually studying for my Series 7 (exam).”
The 24-year-old part-time kicker, full-time broker delivered for the Chiefs Friday night, drilling a 45-yard field goal and adding two extra points in the team’s 27-17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the preseason opener.
Ficken said he felt good about his Chiefs debut.
“I’m kind of thrown into the fire, but my position isn’t one that shifts a whole lot from team to team and time to time,” Ficken said. “Despite the fact that we were kind of on a short notice and thrown in pretty quick, I was pretty happy with how it went today.”
The Penn State dean’s list student and three-time academic all-Big Ten honoree with a degree in finance works on the cash and program equities trading desk for a company that provides security trading services for institutional clients.
When Cairo Santos went down with a groin injury, Ficken received a call from Kansas City, and it wasn’t about buying stocks and bonds.
The Chiefs needed an emergency kicker in case Santos could not play Friday night against San Francisco. The Chiefs and head coach Andy Reid knew Ficken could deliver.
“He’s got a very strong leg,” Reid said. “We’d had him before in camp and we liked what we saw there.”
The pupil of 49ers kicker Robbie Gould impressed during pregame warmups, hitting a field goal from 50 yards with plenty of distance. Special teams coordinator Dave Toub gave him a low-five after the long kick.
“He said, ‘Hey, let it loose, have fun, there’s a reason you’re here,'” Ficken said.
He credited his new teammates for helping him feel comfortable in a new setting.
“Dustin (Colquitt) and (James) Winchester did a good job of kind of getting me in tune pretty quickly here,” Ficken said.
Colquitt was impressed at the confidence and demeanor Ficken showed under difficult circumstances.
“He’s got some swag,” Colquitt said. “He kind of came in said, ‘I want it here and there, and switched over here and I want a couple down the middle.’ He kind of had his own game plan.”
This isn’t Ficken’s first time around the NFL. Ficken entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2015. He attended Kansas City’s rookie minicamp. The Chiefs had Santos, however, and passed on bringing Ficken to training camp.
In addition to his perfect night on field goals and extra points, Ficken sent two of his four kickoffs deep for touchbacks. Reid said Ficken has what it takes to kick in the NFL for a living.
“I think it’s just a matter of him having the opportunity he had today,” Reid said.
A year after his minicamp tryout with the Chiefs, Ficken received another shot in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He played in two preseason games, connecting on a 29-yard field goal and two extra points. The team placed him waivers before the start of the 2016 season.
When another NFL opportunity didn’t arise, Ficken turned to his other career.
“Obviously those plans are put on pause for now,” Ficken said. “Kind of a whirlwind couple of days, but exciting and happy to be here.”