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FOOTBALL: Grand Island's Kern makes the cut for Denver

By Nate Beutel
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It was mid-afternoon Saturday and Brett Kern and his wife, Tiffany, were frantically searching for white clothing at a Denver-area mall. After all, the couple was trying to find the perfect outfit for Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan’s “all-white” social gathering.

“I guess the theme changes every year because it was pirate last year and Caribbean the year before that,” Kern said by phone.

In this case, though, having difficulty finding the right clothes was a good problem to have for the Grand Island native.

Just hours earlier, Kern was informed that he made Denver’s 53-man roster and will be the team’s punter when it travels to Oakland for the first Monday night game of the season Sept. 8.

“I’m thrilled right now,” Kern said. “It’s still starting to sink in for me. It’s just a blessing.”

Since being signed as an undrafted free agent out of Toledo in April, Kern was entrenched in an intense battle with fellow punter Sam Paulescu. The tandem shared punting duties during the preseason with each displaying “differing strengths and weaknesses,” according to Kern. The third team all-American said his ability to hold on field goals and extra points is what likely set him apart, though.

“Our kicker Matt Prader loved me,” Kern said. “He was always complimenting me on my holds.”

That love was apparent on cutdown day as it was Prader that sent Kern a text message informing him that Paulescu was let go and he was the Broncos’ man.

“I was waiting all day, but in the NFL no news is good news,” Kern said. “Then Sam texted me and it was a big relief because this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do both mentally and physically.”

Now, the two-time all-state specialist at GI is focused on beginning a long career.

“I want to show everybody that I belong in the league,” Kern said. “It’s also going to be an honor and privilege to represent Western New York and help put this area on the map at a national level.”