Remember playing tic-tac-toe as a kid? It was that go-to game during never-ending restaurant waits, boring school classes, or those endless car rides. Well, the NFL has been playing their own version of the game at the Pro Bowl Skills Competition for years, only this version has a twist they call kick-tac-toe. Each placekicker would kick panels within the uprights. As each panel is hit, the NFC or AFC logo is displayed depending on who made the last kick. The goal is the same: get three in a row. This year, Cowboys Rookie Brandon Aubrey faced off against Ravens legend Justin Tucker. A few years ago, this match-up would have seemed impossible because Aubrey didn’t even play football in college.

Who is Brandon Aubrey?

Aubrey’s journey to the NFL began with success on the soccer field. From a young age, he had a stellar soccer career playing for the U18 Dallas Texans club team, where he would gain both national and international experience, becoming a two-time captain and leading the club to five State Cup titles. In 2013, as a senior in high school, he ranked as the 24th recruit in the class of 2013 and would go on to play at Notre Dame.

By his senior year in college, Aubrey was named to the NSCAA All-America Third Team and was drafted to the MLS with the twenty-first overall pick in the 2017 draft. He played two seasons in the MLS before retiring in 2018.

The Veteran Rookie 

Still, in his early twenties, he secured a job as a software developer and was ready to put his playing career behind him. One day, he and his wife were watching football, and when the placekicker missed a kick, his wife turned to him and said, “You can do that.” Aubrey took his wife’s advice and started working with a kicking coach.

He began his kicking career working next to middle and high school kids. However, he showed an aptitude for placekicking right from the start.

He trained three days a week for four years before he could showcase his skills in a professional game. In 2022, he was drafted by the USFL’s Birmingham Stallions. In two seasons with the team, Aubrey became a back-to-back champion, with an 85.6 field goal percentage and a 96.6 extra point percentage.

History in the Making 

In July of 2023, he signed a contract with the Dallas Cowboys and won the starting placekicker coming out of training camp.

At the end of camp, reporters asked him why he decided to take a chance to leave his job to become a placekicker. His answer was simple: redemption.

“The reason why I’m doing it is a redemption for the soccer arc and for my family,” he said.

He did just that in his first season with the Cowboys by crushing previous NFL records. He made the most consecutive field goals to start a career, led all kickers in points scored with 157, and had the highest field goal percentage for a rookie in NFL history.

Brandon Aubrey’s journey began because he had his eyes open for new opportunities, and he had the courage to try something new. Five years later, he is in the Pro Bowl. What could we accomplish if we looked for opportunities and weren’t afraid to take a chance when we found them?