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Doug Pederson: A Legend With 'The Pinch'

Posted Jan 24, 2018

Did Doug Pederson invent "the pinch"?

It certainly could be, and as football legend has it (at least through this channel of research), Pederson owns it.

What is “the pinch”? Well, before you starting looking up Seinfeld episodes or begin poring through football slang, it’s an easy one to explain. Pederson, during his 13-year NFL playing career, was a backup quarterback as we all know. But he was also a holder for field goals and PATs. He was a holder who was known to be very, very good.

So good, in fact, that when Pederson introduced “the pinch,” others took notice and followed his style.

“From what I was told, it was my understanding through Koy Detmer (former Eagles quarterback) that Doug introduced it, a revolutionary style of holding the football on PATs from what they call ‘the pinch,’ where the index finger and the thumb actually pinch the top of the ball,” said former Eagles quarterback A.J. Feeley. “When held correctly that way, you can spin the ball without the use of your other hand. You can use just those two fingers.

“I mean, I don’t know if it’s official or anything, but the way Koy made it sound, Doug was like a holding legend. Koy was the greatest holder of all time, but apparently Doug passed it on to Koy. Doug held for Donovan (McNabb in 1999) and then taught Koy. Koy tried to teach me but I botched the job on purpose because David Akers was so darn picky.”

There are multiple ways to hold, and it’s all based on feel. Eagles placekickers Jake Elliott and Caleb Sturgis estimate that half of the league’s holders use the older, more traditional approach of one or more fingers on top of the ball with the other hand used to spin the laces out, if needed. And then there is the school that followed Pederson, the Revolutionary, the Holder Extraordinaire, and use “the pinch.”

“I know that he held, but I did not know that he was known for something,” current Eagles holder Donnie Jones said. “What do you know? I do not use ‘the pinch,’ but I know it’s used out there. I don’t know how many guys use it. I did not know he invented that. I am even more impressed with Doug now. That’s outstanding!"

Jones uses two or three fingers on top of the ball and spins it, if needed, with either those fingers or his off hand.

Said Pederson, chuckling: “The ball came in (from the snapper) and I used two fingers. It’s easier to rotate the football that way. There are always better ways to do something and it was just a natural feel for me to be able to do it with two fingers. I felt like I had a lot more control with the ball and gave our kicker a better opportunity to make a kick.”

If you need any further confirmation of the Pederson “pinch” genius, it comes from Eagles Hall of Fame placekicker David Akers. A part-time kicker for the Eagles in 1999, Akers worked with Pederson and, in fact, booted his first NFL field goal, of 53 yards, with Pederson holding.

Akers credits Pederson for some of the success he had kicking in the NFL.

“He was a fantastic holder, a fantastic holder, an A-plus holder, and, yes, he did use ‘the pinch.’ It was the first time I had ever seen it,“ Akers said. “In fact, after Doug left the Eagles in 2000 (Pederson was released on August 28, 2000) I was devastated. I was going into my first full season as the guy and didn’t have Doug! I taught Koy how to hold using ‘the pinch’ and then taught Sav Rocca the same thing.

“It was one of those things where I’m going, ‘Oh, man this isn’t going to be good (without Pederson). But Koy did a great job and the fact that Doug taught me ‘the pinch’ made a lot of difference in my career.” 

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