However, toes -- those both educated and illiterate -- have been replaced on the gridiron by soccer-style kickers, who boot the pigskin side-footed. When these guys first started coming into the NFL they were often as not little foreigners, and Alex Karras of the Detroit Lions, who died last week, used to mimic them, calling out in falsetto, "I keeck a touchdown! I keeck a touchdown." Today, though, kickers tend to be good-sized Americans who are more proficient than ever.
Although its is occasionally nostalgic to romanticize the good old days, anyone who has ever played soccer past six grade learned how to hit the ball powerfully and accurately. And it is not with your toe. In American football, the transition from toe-balls to instep apparently didn't happen until the 1960s, when a Europeans showed the NFL how do it right. The rest of the world had been playing a sport dedicated to kicking a ball and it took Americans fifty years to figure it out.