NASHVILLE – Titans punter Brett Kern is a numbers guy, and a family guy.
When a season ends, Kern looks back at every punt he charted. If there's a certain direction from a certain hashmark he needs to improve on, he works on it leading up to the next season.
With net averages and gross averages listed next to his name, and yard lines to aim for, it's understandable.
It also explains why he's a three-time Pro Bowler.
This offseason, when he had to punt his normal offseason routine because of the coronavirus pandemic, Kern crunched some other numbers while spending a lot of extra time with his family.
Kern and his wife, Tiffany, became full-time teachers to their three children at home.
Kern taught his 10-year-old son Bryce about the stock market, of course.
"He is getting there," Kern said. "I am not sure if he understands what drives the stock market, but as far as the numbers are concerned, and how you can gain and lose in the market, and what that does to your portfolio, he understands that. I also taught him how to balance a checkbook, some of the stuff he'll need when he gets older. I would say (during the extra time at home) I definitely learned a lot more about my kids, as far as how they learn and what they respond to and what they don't."
But it's back to football now.
Kern, named first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press in 2019 in addition to being named to his third straight Pro Bowl, is set to begin his 13th NFL season – his 12th with the Titans.
In 2019, Kern led the NFL with 37 kicks placed inside the 20-yard line, and he led the AFC with a 47.1 gross average. Kern registered 39 punts of 50 or more yards in 2019, and he tied an NFL record with eight punts placed inside the 20 in a game at Denver.
Kern, of course, aims to keep getting better.
"I'm a perfectionist," he said. "I'm probably my toughest critic. I'm really hard on myself, so when I go back and look at film it's not very hard for me to find stuff that I know I need to get better at. I obviously watch the film, I'll look at last year, even the year before, maybe go three years back and just look at different games in the same stadium, really just try to dissect. I don't want to create a pattern where if I'm in a certain situation, I know I'm going to hit a certain punt. So, try to mix it up a little bit and then like I said, obviously working on punts that I felt like I maybe wasn't as consistent as I should be, and work on those. Going into year 13, I have past offseasons that I've learned from -- what's worked, what hasn't worked. There's always something I can get better at.
"And, of course, Coach (Mike) Vrabel and (special teams) coach (Craig) Aukerman hold me to a higher standard to try and get inside the 10s, so just working on placement, hitting target points on those kinds of punts. Consistency is always my main goal, any time I go out there and kick I set different goals for myself, just to be as consistent as possible."
Kern has been a dependable pro since joining the Titans during the 2009 season, after being waived by the Broncos, where he spent the 2008 season and the early portion of 2009.
Kern is the franchise's all-time career leader in both gross punting average (45.9) and net punting average (40.8), and he ranks second in team annals in career punts (839), behind only Craig Hentrich (861).
Kern owns the top eight net punting seasons in franchise history, and nine of the team's top 11 net punting seasons.
As Kern prepares for the start of the 2020 season – and another trip to Denver, where his career started – he's excited about what's ahead.
And he's thankful for what he's accomplished so far.
"Early on in your career it is almost like you're trying to survive at times, and now my thought process is just to have fun and do everything I can to help our team win," Kern said.
"Obviously I am on the back half of my career, so I'm also just trying to enjoy the relationships that I make, the guys that I am around in the locker room, the camaraderie, because I know that won't always be there. So, building relationships, making new friends, and experiencing everything the NFL has to offer and understanding how it has blessed my family immensely. I just want to keep plugging along, take it game by game, and try to do my job the best that I can each game."
Titans Online looks back at punter Brett Kern's 2019 Pro Bowl season that saw him register a 47.1-yard average, 43.1-yard net average, and down 37 punts inside the 20-yard line with only two touchbacks. (Photos: Donald Page)