You could make a movie out of Mitch Berger’s story. In fact, his story is better than most football movies made to date.

Growing up in North Delta, Mitch learned to kick field goals through goalposts his dad built in their backyard. His dad, from Homestead, Pennsylvania and a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan, coached Mitch and they shared the unlikely dream of a Canadian kid making the NFL.

After starring in multiple sports at North Delta Secondary, US universities ignored him. He spent a year at Tyler Junior College in Texas before starring at the University of Colorado earning All-American honours in 1992.

Drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1994, Mitch was cut after just five games. Tryouts with other teams led to more cuts. At one point he was back in North Delta, pumping gas at a Petro Canada near the Alex Fraser Bridge. He kept training and kicking though, hoping for another shot. It came in 1996 beating out several established kickers to win the Minnesota Vikings punting and kickoff jobs.

After that he remained an NFL regular until 2009 playing 187 games, among the longest careers ever by a Canadian in the NFL. Besides Philadelphia and Minnesota, he also played with the St. Louis Rams, New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals, and Denver Broncos.

In 1998, Mitch set an NFL record of 40 touchbacks off kickoffs that still stands to this day. The following year, the ‘Snickers Kicker’ became the highest paid punter in NFL history. Often among the NFL’s punting leaders with a career 42.9-yard punting average, twice he was named to the NFL Pro Bowl and selected as an All-Pro (1999, 2004).

The fitting end to his story came in 2008 when after overcoming hernia surgery and other injuries, he was signed to kick for his dad’s hometown Steelers. Remarkably, Mitch helped Pittsburgh to victory in Super Bowl XLIII completing one of the greatest fairytale sports stories in BC history.

Written and researched by Jason Beck, Curator of the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

To read more on the career of Mitch Berger, please see the February 2024 Curator’s Corner article here: