6:21 left in the game. “Here’s Anders Carlson, 41-yard try for him,” is what us Green Bay Packers fans heard as Kevin Burkhardt described the events that were unfolding before our eyes. After the Packers moved the ball down the field thanks to a massive run by Aaron Jones, the Jordan Love-led offense stalled at the 49ers 23-yard line. The Packers up only four points, they needed a big kick to go up seven to provide some insurance just in case San Fran were to go down the field and score a touchdown. A field goal made here would go a long way to help the Packers make the NFC Championship game.

Needless to say, there was a ton of pressure on Anders Carlson. With 49ers fans at full volume, Carlson lined up for the kick. Daniel Whelan (who deserves his own article written about him), was the holder. Carlson had already made two field goals this game but had been inconsistent all season. He just needed to make this one. As the old adage says, one play at a time.

There’s the snap.

“Carlson… No! Wide left and a big miss for the young kicker!”

This was immediately followed by every Packers fan who hated the draft pick of Carlson in the 6th, every Packers fan who saw the struggles he had in training camp, every Packers fan who saw Carlson miss too many extra points, every Packers fan who called for Carlson’s replacement scream “NO!” and “I knew it!”

The writing seemed to be on the wall. This was destined to happen.

Well, Carlson’s journey didn’t end there. It was just merely the first chapter.

anders carlson missed kick

Anders Carlson: “A Hero’s Journey”

Wait, wait, wait… I’ve used the phrase “A Hero’s Journey” in both the title and the above heading but what does “A Hero’s Journey” mean?

So, “A Hero’s Journey” is a narrative template used in story telling to describe the path a protagonist takes in a story. Usually, this template is shown to have three main stages: the departure, the initiation, and the return. These three stages have several steps in each stage. All of the steps don’t have to be used for “A Hero’s Journey” to be considered a true “Hero’s Journey.” Let’s describe “A Hero’s Journey” using Luke Skywalker from the original Star Wars trilogy.


hero's journey


The Call to Adventure: To start, Luke receives a message found inside a R2-D2 calling for help from Princess Leia.

Refusing the Call: Initially, Luke doesn’t want to leave his home on Tatooine.

Supernatural Aid: At the beginning, Obi-Wan provides an introduction to the Force for Luke.

Crossing the First Threshold: This happens after experiencing a trial. In Luke’s case his aunt and uncle had been killed by the Empire which led to Luke deciding to leave his home with Obi-Wan.

The Belly of the Whale: This one makes the hero feel lost. Like, there is no point of return. With Luke, it’s when he and his companions are captured by the Death Star.


Road of Trials: Luke begins to experience many challenges such as rescuing Princess Leia, escaping the Death Star, and eventually destroying the Death Star.

Meeting with the Goddess: The ‘goddess’ doesn’t actually have to be a ‘goddess’ but somebody who inspires the hero. In Luke’s case, it is Leia.

Temptation: Here, something tempts the hero away from their path. With Luke, it is impatience and desire for adventure.

Father Figure Makes an Appearance: Consequently, being a critical turning point, Luke learns that Darth Vader is actually his father.

Apotheosis: Luke experiences a deeper understanding of the Force which signifies spiritual growth.

Ultimate Boon: This is when the hero has achieved the goal of their journey. For Luke, in this part of the story, it is mastery of the Force.


Refusal of the Return: It’s pretty comfortable for the hero once they achieve their goal. It’s tough to want to go back. This is just like with Luke who hesitates to face Vader again.

The Magic Flight/Fight: Usually a great battle or trial, Luke faces Vader and the Emperor.

Rescue from Without: Normally, the hero would need some help at the end. This usually would come from an unexpected place. Vader turns away from the Dark Side and saves Luke from the Emperor.

Crossing the Return Threshold: After, the final battle or trial, the hero is allowed to return. Luke was able to return back to the Rebel fleet bringing peace to the galaxy.

Master of Two Worlds: Luke is able to focus on his role as a Jedi but maintain his relationship with his friends.

Freedom to Live: This one is pretty obvious. “They lived happily ever after.” Or, in Luke’s case, Luke and his friends were able to achieve freedom and peace after the defeat of the Empire.

Back to Anders Carlson’s Journey

So, now that you know what “The Hero’s Journey” is, why do I wonder whether or not Anders Carlson is on a hero’s journey?

Well, first of all, it’s the offseason and there isn’t a ton else to talk about. Secondly, its crazy how much “The Hero’s Journey” can be seen in his journey thus far. Thirdly, I’m rooting for Anders Carlson’s success and you should be too. So, if I’m overthinking this, then so what! Let me have this!

Anders Carlson – Departure:

The Call to Adventure: Carlson was drafted in the sixth round by the Green Bay Packers. I’m not a proponent of drafting kickers but it happened. Carlson received his call.

Refusing the Call: Anderson Carlson throughout his first season had problems with his confidence. So, there might have been times of doubt where he questioned his career path.

Supernatural Aid: So, this one doesn’t necessarily have to be supernatural, but the fact that a young kicker like Anders has an older-experienced brother in Daniel Carlson who is also a NFL kicker to provide support and wisdom is pretty close.

Crossing the First Threshold: Arriving to Packers training camp, finally ready start his career as an NFL kicker.

The Belly of the Whale: This is where Carlson had early struggles in training camp. It truly never felt like he would make it out of camp.


Road of Trials: His first NFL season was nothing but a trial for Anders Carlson. It truly was an up-and-down season for the rookie kicker. Carlson had made 27 out of 33 field goal attempts. Consequently, this gave him a field goal percentage of 81.8%. This made him the 29th best kicker in the NFL. Not good. He also missed five extra points out 39 attempts. This all culminated in him missing his final kick of the season when it mattered most. His first season was nothing but a test of Carlson’s resolve.

Meeting with the Goddess: Finally, this is the point of the journey where I believe Anders is currently at. The “goddess” isn’t a goddess at all, but competition heading into the 2024 training camp. I know it’s been only OTAs so far, but Carlson has been kicking well according to reports. Maybe, just maybe, this is the inspiration the kicker needed.

Anders Carlson: The End Goal

Overall, the end goal of this Green Bay Packers team is the same goal they have every year. And that is to win a Super Bowl. So, I don’t know if you know this but the kicking position is important. The Packers absolutely have to figure out their kicking situation. As Packers fans, we need to hope that Anders Carlson is just on “The Hero’s Journey” of sorts because like Andy Herman said it in the above tweet, Carlson has a great leg. If he can figure it out, whatever it is, then he could be great for a long time.

Beginning Of The Next Phase of Carlson’s Journey?

Last drill of practice. It’s all on the kickers here. For the OTA practice to end on just the right note, someone needs to make this field goal. Having just one objective, the rest of the team had to be as loud and distracting as possible to disrupt and add more pressure to the kickers. So, with the whole team putting pressure on the kickers, jumping up and down, yelling, being loud and obnoxious, blaring music, and even spraying water on the kickers, each kicker will have their chance to “win.” Greg Joseph, the former Vikings’ kicker goes first. He misses it. Podlesney also misses it.

Here’s Anders Carlson, a 53-yard try for him.

Everyone is being even louder now, it seems. They are all trying their best to distract Carlson trying to put as much pressure as much as possible on the young kicker. This kick is necessary. Not only for the practice to end on the right note, but it could give Carlson the lead in the kicking competition heading into training camp.

So, his job could be on the line.

Here’s the snap.

Carlson…. YES!!! He made it! The kick was followed by an immediate celebration!

Carlson can do this!

As always,

Go Pack Go!


Damon is a diehard, fully-immersed cheesehead who currently lives in southern Missouri. He teaches at a local high school and has a family YouTube channel about all things Packers. You can follow him on twitter at @packersfamily and on YouTube at The Packers Family.