On Thursday May 19, 2022, longtime Baltimore Ravens punter Sam Koch announced his retirement after 16 seasons in the NFL. He broke the news via Tweet, and went on to hold an emotional 40-minute press conference with head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Eric DeCosta at his side.
Shortly after the news came down, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin took to Twitter to express his appreciation for Koch and his long, distinguished career. His message — which read: “Sam Koch… much respect!” — is especially notable because Tomlin uses Twitter infrequently (only eight times thus far in 2022) and his NFL-related tweets are few and far between.
‘Sam Koch Changed Punting’: John Harbaugh
During the aforementioned press conference, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh shed light about why Mike Tomlin — and much of the rest of the NFL — has so much respect for Koch. It goes beyond his remarkable consistency as a punter and holder, not to mention his penchant for successfully passing the ball on fake punt attempts.
“Sam Koch changed punting. A lot of people don’t know it, but all the punters know it and all the punting coaches know it and all the people that study the game know it,” began Harbaugh. “When Sam got started all anybody ever did was punt it straight. You might punt it straight middle, straight right, or straight left and you hoped to turn the ball over, right?
“Sam changed all that,” continued Harbaugh, “and started developing all these different rugby-style punts. The Koch hook is probably the most famous one, right? — that’s the one that’s got the nickname — but it’s not the only one….
“When you change something forever, to me that’s kind of a revolutionary type thing and that’s the mark of greatness right there,” concluded Harbaugh, having noted that the punter the Ravens drafted to replace Koch — 2022 fourth-round pick Jordan Stout — uses the so-called “Koch hook,” as do many of the other punters around the league.
That said, it’s worth noting that Stout will have an opportunity to learn from Koch, who is joining Harbaugh’s staff as a special teams consultant, having finished his career as the Ravens’ all-time leader in games played (256), with a career average of 45.3 yards per punt, according to Pro Football Reference.
Steelers and Ravens Fans React to Tomlin’s Tweet
As for the reaction to Tomlin’s words, they brought out a stream of replies from Steelers and Ravens fans alike, many of whom credited Tomlin for what observers regarded as a classy, respectful move.
Still other fans were surprised to learn that Tomlin is on Twitter.
One Steelers fan took the opportunity to quip: “Ok Tucker your (sic) next,” no doubt wishing that Justin Tucker — Baltimore’s 32-year-old first-team All-Pro placekicker — would retire sooner rather than later.
Naturally, a few Ravens fans referenced Thanksgiving Night 2013, when Tomlin stepped onto the field during a Jacoby Jones kickoff return, an act for which the Steelers head coach was fined $100,000 by the league.
The latest Steelers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Steelers newsletter here!
Jordan Stout Was Part of Ravens-Steelers Draft Day Intrigue
Meanwhile, it’s also worth noting that Baltimore’s decision to draft punter Jordan Stout No. 130 overall allowed the Steelers to select Memphis wide receiver Calvin Austin III eight picks later — a player the Ravens were hoping to grab with pick No. 139.
As it turns out, though, the Ravens were probably right to exhibit a sense of urgency concerning Stout. After the conclusion of the 2022 Draft, longtime NFL reporter Peter King revealed that another team hoped to make a trade with the Ravens for the No. 139 overall pick, but abandoned the idea as soon as Baltimore took Stout, who is the highest drafted punter since Bryan Anger was selected No. 70 overall in 2012 by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Follow the Heavy on Steelers Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
• Antonio Brown Makes Plea to Steelers in Viral Tweet
• Son of Steelers Hall of Famer Trying out at Rookie Minicamp
• Ravens Kept ‘Biggest Baddest’ Defender From Falling to Steelers in 2022 Draft