Steve Videtich has it made. Wife, kids, house in the 'burbs. He's also the kicker for the Utah Blaze, which is good work if you can get it — and especially if you can keep it.

That's where it gets tricky.

Nevertheless, he'll be kicking off in today's game at Grand Rapids. Things should go well, as long as he remembers to brace himself next time he visits the coach's office.

Arena Football being a business and all.

Twelve weeks ago, Videtich was out of a job. Three weeks ago he was back to being what he was before getting fired — one of the greatest kickers in AFL history. Through it all, he's been taking an unplanned course in personal growth.

It's quite a course. The kind you sometimes get into even though you didn't register.

"This was not the scenario I would have seen playing out for myself, but you learn a lot about yourself," said Videtich. "It's been a big learning experience."

That's the thing about learning experiences. They'd be great if they weren't so doggone hard.

Videtich's story is one right out of central casting — on the Horror Channel. Opening night, 2008, the Blaze were in a grinding battle with Arizona. Videtich missed two field goals and a PAT in the one-point loss. A couple of days later, he was called into coach Danny White's office.

Videtich figured the meeting to be a basic pep talk. Instead, he got pink-slipped.

He was gone like a canceled sitcom.

"That was the last thing I expected to hear from him," said Videtich.

Amazingly, Videtich — who holds the AFL record for kicking points and was the 1998 AFL kicker of the year — didn't revile the Blaze management. He expressed shock, dismay and confusion but remained cool. He hopes to join the Blaze management team after retirement.

"That's definitely a bridge I didn't want to burn," he said.

That doesn't mean he wasn't surprised.

Even rookies get more than one game to prove themselves.

Quarterbacks throw interceptions, linebackers miss tackles, linemen miss blocking assignments, receivers drop passes — and, almost always, there's a second chance.

Yet Videtich shanks a couple of kicks on opening night and he's suddenly a communicable disease.

"I was a little bitter for a couple of weeks," he said.

He had purchased a house in West Jordan. He and his family stayed through the off-season, while he worked in the Blaze front office. This was his home.

The story may have ended with his release, had it not been for a torn meniscus, which prevented the Blaze from actually releasing him. They had to keep him on the injured list until the knee was healed. So he underwent surgery.

Meanwhile, he thought about the situation and decided sulking "wasn't doing myself or anyone else any good."

So he started showing up before practice to work on kicks. Eventually the Blaze losing streak reached nine games as the season went south. Kicker Steve Azar was let go.

Videtich had gone from outcast to insurance policy to main man. He was re-signed in May.

While his leg isn't at full strength, he says that should change by next year. If there is a next year.

He has learned there aren't many guarantees in his business.

Meanwhile, he has made 22-of-25 PATs since his return.

"I still have to get that one missed PAT a game out of me," he said.

So it has come full circle, and in the process he has learned much. For instance, "a little humility." And fighting back from adversity. He has also learned "that it's a business like anything else. If there's a weak link, you've got to make changes. Evidently they felt I was the weak link early."

A few weeks later, he was their new best buddy.

No, he's not going to rub it in.

"This is one of the best organizations I've ever been with," he said. "Everything they do, on and off the field, is first class."

All a guy needs to do is memorize the phrase "here today, gone tomorrow."

And perhaps here again, if you keep your head.


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