"Robbie always helped me out when I was a rookie," said tight end Kyle Adams. "Robbie learned my name, and encouraged me, and tried to give me advice on special teams. He was helpful in that way."

"He watches everything," sixth-year cornerback Zack Bowman said. "He always tells me, 'You're there. You just need to cross his face.' (That's a player's phrase meaning to "go make the tackle.") Next play, I already know what to expect. Boom, I'm there, crossed his face, I made the tackle. Stuff like that, to help you become a better player."

"I don't think there's really anything unique about it," said Gould. "As an older player, you've been in how many meetings where you've sat and listened to special teams coaches talk about techniques or why they do certain things at certain times or judging the wind. Those are things that for me I've had to come and understand. And why not pass it on to the young guys?"


Gould's talents in team building, mentoring and pranking certainly build camaraderie, but you don't have to dig deep to understand what makes Gould so valuable to his team. It's the kicking, stupid! He's converted an unreal 85.6 percent of his attempts in his eight seasons.

"At the end of the day, the way you earn respect in the National Football League," Gould said, "[is] the way you carry yourself and the way you do your job on a daily basis, not just on Sundays."

In eight seasons, Gould has been doing his job on a daily basis AND on Sundays. He is the sixth most accurate kicker in NFL history. He is 8-for-8 on field goals over 50 yards since starting his career 5-for-9. He is 215 points away from passing Kevin Butler as the franchise's all-time leading scorer, a mark he could achieve by 2014.

For both Bears fans and players, Gould's greatest accomplishments are his eight game-winners. Most memorable was his 49-yarder in overtime in 2007 to send the Bears to the NFC championship game, a kick both Gould and Mannelly cite as Gould's best.

But for Podlesh, Gould's greatest moment took place in training camp in 2011.

"We were on the sideline and he wanted to warm up, but we only had one field because we were at [Olivet Nazarene University's] stadium field," Podlesh said. "We didn't have a goal post at the time because we had [offense and defense] out practicing.

"So he said to one of the ball boys, 'Just run down to the end line and put your arms up.' Like, to make a goal post. He was about 45 yards out. We do six or seven kicks in a row … and Robbie puts every single one of them between the kid's arms like 45 yards down the field."

Podlesh shook his head in disbelief.

"Those would be the greatest kicks I've ever seen," he said. "Didn't miss one."

Jack M Silverstein is a RedEye special contributor. @readjack

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