Seattle Seahawks

Seahawks rookie punter Michael Dickson leads Pro Bowl fan voting that ends next week

Seahawks punter Michael Dickson was freelancing when he took off running for game-clinching first down at Detroit

Seahawks rookie punter Michael Dickson was freelancing when he took off running for game-clinching first down late at Detroit. He was supposed to run out of the end zone for an intentional safety.
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Seahawks rookie punter Michael Dickson was freelancing when he took off running for game-clinching first down late at Detroit. He was supposed to run out of the end zone for an intentional safety.

Michael “Big Balls” Dickson is getting big votes, too.

The NFL announced Wednesday its latest compilation of fan votes for the Pro Bowl. With one week remaining in the fan vote, Dickson is leading all NFC punters.

The rookie fifth-round draft choice from the University of Texas and Australia is the only Seahawk leading voting at a position for the all-star game. It will be played Jan. 27 in Orlando, Fla.

Fan voting runs through Dec. 13 at NFL.com/ProBowlVote.

Beginning Friday, fans will be able to vote directly on Twitter. The NFL says to cast such a vote, fans need to tweet the first and last name of the player, or the player’s official Twitter handle, plus the hashtag: #ProBowlVote.

Players for the Pro Bowl are selected by combined vote of fans, players and coaches. Each group’s vote counts one-third toward determining the 88 players who will be selected to.

Players and coaches vote Dec. 15.

The league will announce Pro Bowl rosters on Dec. 19.

Dickson became a star in college at Texas while using his skills from playing Australian Rules Football in his native country from age 8 to 18. Seattle traded up to select him this spring as the first punter or kicker coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider had drafted since taking over the team in 2010. In the preseason Dickson beat out Jon Ryan, the longest-tenured Seahawk, to become the team’s new punter.

His booming, directional punts to the sideline, some of which turn 90 degrees, have become routine.

Dickson leads the NFL in net punting average, 44.7 yards, because his punts are so high and difficult to return when the returner is pinned to the sideline. He is also the league’s co-leader in gross punting average, 48.7, entering Monday night’s home game against Minnesota.

He became something of a national football phenomenon on Oct. 28 in Detroit. Told by Carroll to run out of the back of the end zone to take an intentional safety on a fourth and 8 with Seattle leading by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Dickson instead saw room outside to his right and took off running—out of his own end zone. He ran for 9 yards, getting the first down and sealing the win. Had he failed, the Lions would have been right back in the game.

On the sidelines then in the locker room after that game, teammates were calling the rookie “Big Balls Dickson” for that bold trick.

Again, the back story to his signature play of his NFL career so far: Dickson was minding his own stuff in mid-October when Carroll up to him with an odd suggestion at the airport in London, after Seattle’s blowout win over Oakland at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 14.

“And Pete came up to me and said, ‘When are you just going to run the ball?’” Dickson said.


The punter’s glib response?


“Whenever you ask me to.”


“Sometimes when there’s a gap, just take it,” Carroll told Dickson in the London airport.


“Then I told my special-teams coach (Brian Schneider),” Dickson said, “knowing he’d be so against the idea. And he was. I told him and he said, ‘No! Don’t ever do that!’”


Carroll’s reaction that day in Detroit when Dickson took off, unauthorized: “A few” expletives, the coach said.







Gregg Bell is the Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019 he was named the Washington state sportswriter of the year by the National Sports Media Association. He started covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season of 2005. In a prior life he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the U.S. Army, so he may ask you to drop and give him 10.


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