Nate Kaeding of Iowa City, one of the National Football League's most-productive placekickers of the last decade, announced his retirement from football Thursday.
"Over the last three years Iíve struggled with recurring muscle injuries in my kicking leg," Kaeding said. "Since January of this offseason I executed a deliberate and comprehensive training regimen devised to address these muscular deficiencies.
"However, this past week, as I began kicking again for the first time in preparation for the 2013 season, I suffered yet another injury to my right adductor. After consulting with both medical professionals and personal advisors, Iíve come to the conclusion that I can no longer perform at the level of consistency and durability that is required of me as an athlete in the National Football League."
After graduating from Iowa City West, Kaeding had a brilliant career at the University of Iowa. He won the Lou Groza Award in 2002, was first-team All-Big Ten in 2002 and 2003, and was on several All-America teams in '02 before being a consensus All-America the following season. He is Iowa's all-time leading scorer with 373 points, and was an integral figure in the Hawkeyes' Big Ten-championship squad of 2002.
All but the last two games of his 115-game professional career were with the San Diego Chargers, who selected him in the third round of the 2004 NFL draft. After getting placed on waivers in midseason last year, he played the final two games with the Miami Dolphins.
A free agent, Kaeding signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a month ago.
Kaeding, 31, made 181 of 210 field goal attempts in the NFL for 86.2 percent, which ranks fourth on the league's all-time list and is ahead of any active kicker. But a torn ACL in the 2011 season's first game cost him the rest of that season, and he only played the first three games of last season for the Chargers before succumbing to a groin injury. He had gotten off to a 7-for-7 start in field goals before the injury.
"It's certainly frustrating," Kaeding said. "You don't ever want to end your career in that manner. But I'm also excited for the next chapter, being back home (in Iowa City) with my family. It's a new day."