After suffering through an injury-plagued season in 2019 with the Tennessee Titans, kicker Ryan Succop has not only found new life with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but now he is preparing to play in his first Super Bowl.
Succop had been with the Titans for six seasons, but was just 1-of-6 on field goals last year thanks to two different knee surgeries and time on injured reserve.
The Titans released him in the off-season, and Succop waited until August before landing with the Bucs and beginning the next chapter of his NFL career. Succop is back to being the same reliable kicker he was in Tennessee, as he has made 27 of 30 field goals, including a perfect 19 of 19 inside 40 yards.
“It’s been really special, for a lot of reasons. A lot of really cool things have happened this year to me personally and obviously to the team,” Succop said. “Obviously our team has had a ton of success, and getting to play in the Super Bowl is something you dream about. On a personal level, there have been a lot of cool things that have happened on the field and to my family. “
At the top of that list was just after signing with the Bucs and securing a place to live in Tampa, his wife Paige visited him and told him she was expecting the couple’s third child.
Succop admits that the adversity he went through last year has made him appreciate his blessings and the fact that he has gotten another chance to kick in the NFL.
“Last year was certainly a very difficult year for me. It was hard because things had been going so well for so long there in Tennessee,” Succop said. “Then, all of a sudden, you have an injury and you try to come back from it. At the time, I just didn’t come back the way that I would have liked. It was hard. It’s never fun when you’re struggling. And that was difficult. But the good thing when you go through something like that – when you go through adversity – that’s oftentimes where the Lord uses those situations to grow you as a person in your faith.
“It was something that I think that adversity has really helped me. Going through that has prepared me for a lot of things. It also makes you realize how much you appreciate the game.”
Succop was never himself in 2019 with the Titans, but said that after working out for a couple of months with his neighbor, friend and former Titans teammate Luke Stocker that he began to regain the strength in his leg and rediscovered his kicking stroke.
“Covid hits in March, and all the gyms are closed. My neighbor, and he’s one of my best friends, Luke Stocker, who used to play for the Titans for a little bit. Our families are super close. Luke had a gym in his garage,” Succop said. “Starting in March, our wives would go down first and work out and we would watch the kids. And then when they would get done, then Luke and I would go work out and the kids would play together. It was a cool little thing. It started where I was working out with Luke, and just doing the stuff that he was doing, and obviously a lot less weight, but just training with him every day, it was something where we kind of fed off each other.
“I started feeling really good doing his workouts. As March and April went along and May came, I started hitting some balls, and that’s when I knew I was back. I was like, ‘The Lord still wants me to play football.’ I kind of knew at that point. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have healed me the way He did. So in the late spring, early summer, that’s when I started feeling really good again, and it’s been amazing to see what’s happened since then.”
Succop and his family still call Nashville home, and the kicker said he still has lots of good friends inside the Titans locker room – friendships that go deeper than football. As for being let go last year, Succop doesn’t harbor any hard feelings. Besides, the door that opened has led him to his first Super Bowl opportunity.
“A lot of that stuff, there wasn’t anything I could do about it. I have nothing but respect for the whole Titans organization, and I’m really thankful for my six years I had there,” he said. “Those first five years were some of the best of my career. Obviously, that sixth year was a little different and things were a little tough, but I’ve still got some very, very close friends in that locker room. Guys that will be with me and my family for the rest of our lives. I talk to Brett Kern almost every day, and Ben Jones is the same way. Our families are always doing stuff together. There’s a lot of guys up there that we’re just really close with.
“Nashville is home for us and those are guys that we’ll be close with for the rest of our lives. I don’t really regret anything that happened in my time there. It was all in the Lord’s plan. The Lord brought me here to Tampa, and it has been one of the coolest experiences of my life getting to come down here and play this year. I’m very grateful for that.”