Nine weeks ago, Steve Videtich was confused. He was also angry and bitter.
Nine weeks ago, Videtich arguably the best kicker the Arena Football League has ever known was called into Utah Blaze coach Danny White's office after missing two field goals and a PAT in a 1-point, season-opening loss.
"I thought he was going to give me a warning or something," Videtich said. "Or tell me I had to be better."
Instead, the only kicker to wear a Blaze uniform to that point was told he was out of a job.
"I didn't necessarily feel like he was done as a kicker," White said. "I just felt like we needed a change."
During his exit interview and physical, it was determined Videtich had a torn meniscus in his knee. That meant the Blaze were not permitted to unceremoniously cut him loose, according to league rules.
Instead, he had surgery to repair the knee and was placed in inured reserve.
Tonight, Videtich will be back in a Blaze uniform when his current, and almost former, team hosts Colorado in an effort to climb back into the AFL playoff picture.
"Never in a million years did I expect to be released," Videtich said. "I was just in shock. I really didn't know what to think."
The injury, though, gave him plenty of time to mull things over. At first, he admits, he was bitter "I think I deserved more than one game," he said then he got over it.
He actually had moved his family to Utah and had intentions of staying. So he continued to attend home games, he showed up to practices and invited the team to his home for dinners and get-togethers all without knowing if he'd ever rejoin the team as an active player.
In fact, Videtich said he was invited to try out for another AFL team but ended up aggravating his knee injury and being forced back to the sideline.
His replacement kicker, meanwhile, was having a fair enough season with the Blaze until last week. Steve Azar missed two PATs and a field goal and, after confirming Videtich was physically ready to rejoin the team, White made the switch.
"It's as much a chemistry thing as anything else," White said. "After the injury and surgery, we decided we wanted him back as soon as we could get him back. We've been planning to bring him back as soon as he was well."
Being back with the Blaze despite their woeful 1-9 record is something Videtich hoped for all along. His long-range goals, in fact, are to join the team's front office someday in the not-too-distant future.
"I don't want a season like this to ruin what this organization has going," he said. "It hasn't been a very good season, but this organization is as good as it gets. It's something I want to be a part of."
Tonight, Videtich and the rest of his teammates will try to capitalize on last week's win. Their opponents, the Colorado Crush, will certainly not be a willing patsy for Utah's turnaround ambitions.
"They are a lot like us in a lot of ways," White said. "They haven't had as much success as you think they probably should have. They're on the bubble and edge of the playoffs, too. I'm sure they don't want us catching them."
The Crush are only 4-5 this year but have won three of their last four games to climb up the conference standings a bit.
A win by the Blaze, though, would create some interesting scenarios over the final few weeks of the regular season."We have to guard against any kind of a letdown," White said of the reaction from finally breaking into the win column. "In this league, it just takes a couple of little mistakes to cost you a game. That's what we went through for a long time. Now that we had the breaks go our way, we have to stay focused and not let our guard down."
Blaze on the air
Utah Blaze (1-9) vs. Colorado Crush (4-5)
Tonight, 7 p.m.
TV: KJZZ Ch. 14
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