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Where Are They Now? P Mike Horan

Mike Horan
Mike Horan

The sixth-ranked punter in the nation as a senior at Long Beach State, Mike Horan hoped to step up to the next level and play in the NFL.

Atlanta gave Horan the opportunity by choosing him in the ninth round of the 1982 NFL Draft. He, however, was released on the final cut. The following year, he was signed by and later released by Green Bay. He then signed with Buffalo and was let go during the preseason.

But unlike baseball, it wasn't a case of three strikes and you're out.

"I was going to give it three years if I could keep getting into a Training Camp," Horan says. "I had my college degree in mechanical engineering and was working at Hughes Aircraft Company on radar and sonar systems for the Navy. I started as a summer hire before my senior year in college, and they hired me permanently after I graduated. I was working for them full time when I got drafted by the Falcons. And then after I got cut, I had a job to come right back to.

"I knew that I had the skills and the potential, and looking at the history of other punters, quite a few of them had taken three years to break into the league. It's kind of different with the kicking game in that it's not just like one shot out of college and you're done.

"Philadelphia invited me for a midseason tryout during the '83 season, and I punted pretty well. They asked if I'd be willing to sign and come into camp the following year. And, of course, I jumped at that."

Horan went to the Eagles' 1984 Training Camp at West Chester University, where he competed against five-year veteran Max Runager.

"Frank Gansz was the special teams coach, and he was one of the best special teams coaches, I think, in the history of the NFL," Horan says. "He wanted consistency. He wanted a directional punter who could kick it high and far and outside the numbers.

"After the last preseason game, I had had some good punts and one not so good punt, and was wondering if that one punt had done me in. And the next day when we went in the locker room, I was kind of expecting that tap on the shoulder, 'Hey, bring your playbook. Coach needs to see you.'

"But I walked in the locker room and no one said anything. And then Max Runager walked in and was approached by the 'Turk.' They had a conversation, and Max walked up and stuck his hand out and said, 'Hey, congratulations! You made the team.' I was just shocked. Of course, he went on to get picked up by the 49ers and won the Super Bowl (XIX) that year. So I was happy for him."

He could have been happy for himself, as well. In the season-opener against the Giants at the Meadowlands, the Eagles lost 28-27, but Horan had a 69-yard punt. "I think there might have been a little bit of a roll on that one," he laughed. "The returner couldn't catch it and kind of walked up the sideline a little bit. Yeah, it was a great opening day and a great way to start my career."

It was a great way to start his career, and ...

"My wife went into labor that day," Horan says. "My long snapper, Gerry Feehery, drove me directly to the hospital in Chester for my daughter's birth. I got there in time to see her delivered and cut the umbilical cord."

With the Eagles for the first two of his 16-year NFL career, Horan would go on to play for Denver, where he was an All-Pro in 1988, the Giants, then-St. Louis Rams, and Chicago. Playing in four Super Bowls – XXI, XXII, and XXIV with the Broncos and XXXIV with the Rams – Horan finished with 1,003 punts for 42,286 yards, a 42.2 average.

"I was just grateful to fulfill a lifelong dream of being able to play in the NFL," he says. "I just really felt God's blessing on my life and my family. It was a long career that I'm totally grateful for."

Planning for a future career while he was still playing, Horan got into the mortgage business with the help of his mother-in-law, who was in the field and taught him the ropes. "After I got cut by the Giants (in 1997), in the offseason," Horan says, "I started originating loans and got a phone call to go finish up the season for the Rams and for the Bears (in 1998) and I was finishing up my pipeline and closing loans from my hotel room in those cities. And then after I retired from the NFL (after helping the Rams win Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000), I got into the wholesale side of the mortgage business, calling on mortgage brokers. And now I'm selling the software."

Making their home in Orange County, California, Horan and his wife, Kim, have three adult children: Meghan, Shawna, and Michael II; and three grandchildren. "Kind of an interesting side note, two of my three kids were born on gamedays, and they were both away games, and I was able to, through teammates' help, get to the hospital before they were delivered," Horan says.

For the past 11 years, he has been a mid-market account executive with ICE Mortgage Technology.

"The mothership company owns the New York Stock Exchange as well as other exchanges around the world, and mortgage technology is one of their verticals," Horan says. "The West Coast is my territory, and my job is to demonstrate and sell our loan origination software to mortgage bankers, banks, and credit unions.

"I get to talk to a lot of people. I get to visit with them and help them solve their needs and see what's happening with their current situation and how we can make their lives better and their processes more efficient."

Six Eagles were selected for this year's Pro Bowl. A.J. Brown, Lane Johnson, and Jason Kelce will be starters, while Landon Dickerson, Haason Reddick, and D'Andre Swift will be reserves. Check out the best of the Eagles' Pro Bowl players!

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