IOWA CITY - Injuries have caught up to former Iowa City West and Iowa Hawkeye kicker Nate Kaeding. So much so that he has decided to hang up his cleats.
The nine-year NFL veteran announced his retirement on Thursday after losing a battle with a nagging groin injury. He was set to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season after signing a contract in early April.
"Your body is one of those things you have to understand that some things are just out of your control," said Kaeding, who retires as the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history after having made 86.2 percent of his career attempts. "The leg in the end was just kind of worn out. It just got worn out and couldn't stand up to the rigors of kicking in the NFL, which is three or four days a week of practice and a lot of kicks on game day.
"You've got to do that for six months and it just got to the point where I realized I just didn't have it in the leg anymore."
Kaeding helped the Iowa football resurrection under Kirk Ferentz back in the early 2000s. He was a part of an 11-win team that played in the Orange Bowl his junior season and then the Hawkeyes won 10 games when Kaeding was a senior.
The former Iowa City West multi-sport athlete was taken in the third round of the 2004 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He played in two Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro twice.
But it was injuries that caught up to the former Hawkeye.
Kaeding missed all of 2011 with the Chargers after tearing his ACL in the season opener. He was then cut the following season by the Chargers and joined the Miami Dolphins in December this past season and kicked a handful of field goals in limited duty.
His latest contract won't be fulfilled, though, thanks to a nagging groin injury that bothered him some last year as well.
Kaeding currently lives in Iowa City with his wife Samantha Gervich, a Marshalltown native, and their three kids. He is part-owner of three bars - two Short's Burger and Shine and Stella - in town and plans on staying in Iowa City for the foreseeable future.
"It's exciting," said Kaeding, who is Iowa's all-time leading scorer with 373 points. "I'm 31. I'm not old. I guess I'm not young, either. But it's kind of fun to be able to take a step back and see what comes."