A northeasterly breeze blows across the football fieldat the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. To me the wind provides some glorious relief: It's the middle of the day in the middle of July, and a heat wave has just descended on the region. But to Harrison Butker, who is standing with me at the 40-yard line, facing north, it's a tactical advantage. "Bit of a tailwind," he says, eyeing the goal posts as he bends to tee up a football.
Not that he needs it. Butker backs away, takes two steps to his left, pauses, and dashes toward the ball, his right foot making contact with a thwock that sings throughout the stadium. The kick drifts right, tails left, then soars high between the uprights. It's a 50-yard field goal, but it looks to me like it could have been good from more than 60.
Butker is the starting placekicker for the Kansas City Chiefs. He's met me here at a kicking camp in Whitewater to demonstrate his skills, which are considerable. One of the most powerful and consistent kickers in the NFL, Butker has made more than 95 percent of the extra points he's attempted in the course of his career and 90 percent of his field goals, including several from 50 yards or more.