Phantoms Of The Kick Off: Capturing NFL Special Teamers That Never Made It At Their Actual Position (Part 3 of 5)

Scott Taetsch. Getty Images.

For those dropping in raw this is part three of a five part blog series shining light on NFL players who never quite made it at their position, yet played a ridiculous amount of special teams plays otherwise. These phatoms of the kick off deserve their day even if it's in this blog series that's being dominated in page views by topics such as the Hawk Tuah girl getting paid to appear at bars and Zach Wilson's engage-off with his ex. I'm not complaining this series is flying under the radar. It's actually perfectly poetic. Just one more way these guys can stay completely unknown. 

Today we focus on a few phantoms we'll just loosely all call #3 on the list. A running back, a wide receiver, and a center walk into a bar.

Xavier Jones- Running Back

Ronald Martinez. Getty Images.

Here's an action shot of Xavier Jones running with the ball. You can tell this is a preseason game since he literally has never officially recorded a rush in his entire career. As far as he knows, his job in the regular season is running back… to tackle people on kickoffs and punts. 

An undrafted free agent in 2020 for the Sean McVay Rams, you have to feel for Jones not getting a chance when it seems like every other backup running back found their way on the field for McVay. But he did play in 13 games and recorded a whopping four tackles. I know you're supposed to earn your way out of special teams but is that really fair to expect from a 5'11 running back? Look at him up there. It's like making Mugsy Bogues win a tip-off before he can play at guard back in the 90s. 

Let's move on to wide receiver. I feel really bad for my guy, Jake Lampman - even if he catches passes like he's in pee-wee football. 

Jake Lampman - Wide Receinever

Icon Sportswire. Getty Images.


My first assumption was that this dude was a kickoff/punt return specialist I somehow never heard of, but he has zero return stats on record during is solo 2016 season. Yet there he is with almost double to second most snaps for any wide receiver who never actually played wide receiver. Hang the banner, baby. 

Just a reminder to anyone who thinks making the NFL means you have an easy life, not only did Lampman deal with this bullshit, but he also dealt with inevitable roster spin cycle life fringe roster players deal with. 

That's a lot of tryouts for someone who wasn't given a try. Still nothing compared to my guy's 113 transactions here or this other guy's 113 transactions. And to add insult to injury, Pro Football Reference had to twist the knife by putting Lampman's career fantasy football stats on his profile page…

 and this supposedly "frequently asked question" one might ask regarding Jake Lampman:


Mad respect for Jake. Say what you want but he literally leads NFL history for a wide receiver in least dropped balls, penalties, and fumbles. You can't tell the story of the best to ever do it in all three categories without Jake Lampman.

Mike Gibson - Center

Christian Petersen. Getty Images.

OK - our last phantom for today is Mike Gibson who is actually listed as a tackle but I think played some center too. In any case, he broke the 100-play special teams barrier and thus deserves some recognition to all 18 barstool sports blog readers of which 16 have left by this point. 

Drafted in the 6th round by the Eagles in 2008, he didn't play until 2009 with the Seahawks. As either of you might recall from an earlier blog in this series, snap count data wasn't tracked until 2012 meaning this 101 figure is actually probably higher if we are to believe he didn't play on offense up until then too. Or maybe he did and he's a phantom fraud. I don't know. 


That's enough for today. Two more phantom editions to go. Catch up on any you might have missed here. What else are you gonna do? It's hot as hell and there's no football action for another few weeks.