How Aussies Changed the NFL.[caption id="attachment_18361" align="aligncenter" width="470"] chargers.com[/caption] Over the years Australians have gradually become more prominent at the punting position in the NFL, and their unique talents have changed one small part of the game. It started when AFL player Darren Bennett honeymooned in California, where he contacted the San Diego Chargers coaching staff and requested a try-out. He impressed and was placed on the practice squad, after being briefly shipped to Europe he finally became the Chargers' starting punter. Bennett was the first punter in the NFL to use the 'drop punt', which forces the ball to bounce backward rather than roll forwards, stopping the ball from travelling through the end zone which could usually result in a touchback. The drop punt becomes most useful when punting from around the middle of the field as the kicker hopes to keep the ball in the field of play rather than punting it as far as possible, as they would have pre-Bennett. The punting style introduced by the Aussie revolutionized punting in the NFL, and had dramatic effects on game planning for both offensive and defensive schemes after the punt. It also helped combat the growing danger of kick returners. In his rookie season he was second in the league in punting average and was selected to the Pro Bowl. He was named the Punter of the 1990's, and after nine seasons in San Diego he spent two years in Minnesota kicking for the Vikings. Most recently Aussie Brad Wing made very good use of the technique during his time at LSU, as did Alex Dunnachie in Hawaii. Both are now entering the NFL, Wing with the Eagles and Dunnachie is on the market, both have been heavily influenced by Bennett. In short, Darren Bennett was the beginning of a revolution at the punting position. Current NFL punter Chris Kluwe went so far as to consider Bennett one of the greatest punters in NFL history when asked in a recent ProFootball Talk interview, thanks to his development of the technique. Since his retirement in 2005, we have seen eight Aussie punters bounce in and out of NFL squads, including Matt McBriar, Sav Rocca, Brad Wing, Ben Graham and Chris Bryan. Having an Australian be named the best punter of his decade is a tremendous feat, on top of that Bennett was also inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame. Around the league today, around half of the punters starting in the NFL use the drop punt technique, following in the footsteps of Aussie Darren Bennett. His technique will continue to become a more prominent part of the NFL, as will Australians. Today, Darren works with aspiring NFL punters in the USA to help them achieve their goal of entering the top level of football. As Aussies we have plenty to be proud of in American sports, NBA and the NFL alike. Under the radar we changed the game, subtly but effectively. Follow me @jarlathjp for more articles, or shoot me some feedback!