The streak was supposed to end at 53.
It wasn’t supposed to get to 54, and it definitely
wasn’t supposed to make it to 58.
Fifty-nine was never even thought of as possible,
but then again, A.J. Cole was never supposed to go
from undrafted free agent to the starting punter for
the Oakland Raiders either.
The aforementioned streak is one between Cole and his father,
Alfred, which involves a simple, yet meaningful, pregame ritual.
Regardless of location, time—or weather condition—the elder
Cole meets his son pregame, and they snap a photo together;
more accurately, they snap a selfie, and the duo hasn’t missed
a photo op since A.J. participated in the Georgia vs Florida High
School Showcase game following his senior year at Woodward
Academy near Atlanta.
“I had taught my dad what a selfie was around that time, so
we went down to this all-star game, and he’s like, ‘Oh, let’s do a
selfie; let’s do a selfie,’” explained the younger Cole. “He did it
the first game, and he’s like, ‘let’s do another one,’ and then it
started to become a thing.”
And just like that, the pair were off to the races, snapping
photos at stadiums all around the country, as A.J. kicked his way
through the ACC.
Memorial Stadium in Clemson South Carolina? Check.
Alumni Stadium, home of the Boston College Eagles? Check.
Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina? Naturally.
Like all good streaks though, there were a few near misses along
There was the home game A.J.’s freshman year, where Alfred
and his wife Kim showed up 10 minutes before kickoff — much
to the chagrin of the young punter.
And then there was the game in South Bend where Alfred’s
seats were so high up at Notre Dame Stadium that he had a hard
time convincing the ushers to let him down close enough to the
field to snap a photo with his son.
So, how did he convince them that he was indeed the father
of the Wolfpack’s punter? He whipped out his phone and showed
them his folder of selfies, naturally.
Oh, and then there was that game against Eastern Carolina
A.J.’s junior year, where his parents landed three hours before
kickoff, drove two hours to Greenville, and made it in the stadium
just in time to take a selfie.
Through it all though, the pair soldiered on, snapping their selfies,
with the ritual eventually becoming part of Cole’s pregame routine.
“It’s been a fun tradition,” Alfred said. “It helps him – I think
it helps A.J. relax some. We’re there. He knows we’re there. We
usually take it way before the game, so it’s not any problem with
him getting ready for the game.”
“It’s a part of just locking me in for the game,” added A.J.
“My dad always says he’s seeing the world one football game at
a time. It’s just a tradition. It’s what we do. I go up to him after