The thing that complicates the slightly salacious story of how a Mormon placekicker from BYU ended up on the gossip pages with a Playboy Playmate of the Year is this: Owen Pochman isn't exactly Mormon.

So there goes that angle.

Still, you have to ask: What was THAT about?

Pochman, who set several school records at BYU from 1997-2000, has self-published a book called "I'm just a Kicker." It's available online at imjustakicker.com. For $14.95 plus shipping, you can get his version of how a man labeled both "Mormon" and "kicker" — two of the unsexiest titles ever — wound up romantically involved with Brande Roderick, the 2001 Playmate of the Year.

And you thought "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" had some strange twists.

Pochman said in a phone interview this week that the book isn't designed to shock or upset. Rather, it's simply the story of a slightly nerdy prep soccer player's journey of self-discovery based on three components: football, religion and women.

If you're "Entertainment Tonight" you're thinking: Two out of three isn't bad.

"The weirdest thing about that is that there is a sort of Catch-22, in that people were kind of saying how does a kicker get a pretty girl, and because you're allegedly a Mormon from BYU, how did he end up with a Playmate?" said Pochman.

Um, mind control?

"People are like, 'Whoa! What's wrong with this picture?' "

The 273-page book takes Pochman from high school in Seattle, to his days at BYU (which he says he enjoyed), to a spotty career in the NFL that included stops in New England, New York, Green Bay, St. Louis, San Francisco, Baltimore and Buffalo. Though he never played at some of the stops, he did manage to get 17 field goal attempts in the NFL, making eight.

Among his most-publicized moments was in 2003 when he missed two field goals in a 49ers loss to Arizona. At one point he missed seven field goals in four games, prompting quarterback Jeff Garcia to complain to the media: "Is Landon Donovan available? I heard Brandi Chastain is available."

That was his trial on the field. Off the field Pochman dealt with other issues, such as how to avoid representing something he isn't. He was raised in the church and even says he obeyed the honor code at BYU (at least while school was in session). But in revealing some of the details of his college afterlife — which included an increasing amount of worldly endeavors — he says he has no intention of representing himself as LDS.

"I have always really respected the church and its members, but there was always that burden; I tried really hard to disassociate myself with the Mormon religion," he said this week. "I don't want people to think I'm a guy doing things and then claiming to be something I'm not."

Some would contend that claiming to be an NFL kicker is something he's not, either.

Though his stats weren't impressive, he succeeded in earning a player pension.

As a high school soccer player, Pochman didn't take up football until his senior year. "I was the kind of kid that was almost, like, bitter toward the high school quarterback that dates the cheerleader. I was that kid," he said.

He had trouble fitting in at BYU, he says, right up until he became a starter on the football team. Before then, everyone wanted to know why he wasn't going on an LDS mission. Afterward, he says, nobody was worried.

During college Pochman avoided church as often as possible, but once he left BYU, he left the church entirely. So when he met Roderick at a party in New York, it wasn't like he was a bishop in waiting. But her remark to the media that she was dating "a good Mormon boy" made headlines nonetheless. The couple showed up in tabloid gossip photos.

Pochman dated her off and on for two years; they even lived together part of that time.

Nowadays, both his football career and his glitzy love affair are over. Single and unattached, he splits his time between L.A. and Las Vegas, where he owns homes.

Pochman, who has also done some modeling, says he always wanted to be a writer, and the book is his start. But rather than possibly have his story changed by a big publisher, he decided to self-publish. Still, he says, some people will wonder what is the point of his book. His answer: It clears some things up.

In it he tells of his insecurities, his football and, of course, how he accidentally became paparazzi bait.

Better to tell what he knows, he says, than writing fiction.

"I just wanted to tell the story of how I ended up the way I am," he said.

A story that, in some ways, is stranger than fiction.


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