As an immigrant from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Martín Gramática was only interested in playing soccer growing up before stumbling across American football.
With his hometown of LaBelle, Florida, housing less than 5,000 people, Gramática made the ultimate decision that would change his life forever. He decided to give it a shot, leading him toward becoming one of the greatest college placekickers of all time.
“I played soccer my whole life, but I grew up in a small town and they didn’t have a kicker — they literally had an offensive tackle kicking the ball,” Gramática said. “I didn’t play at all the first three years but the last year, I said, ‘Why not?’ So, I thought I would help out by kicking for them for a year, and then after that, I’ll go back to playing soccer. Clearly, my plan to play football for only a year didn’t necessarily work out, but I think it all worked out in the end.”
After his senior year of kicking, Gramática had offers to come and kick at the Division I level. He placed his faith in Kansas State and former head coach Bill Snyder to make him the best kicker he could be.
“I took a recruiting visit and basically fell in love with the university and, most importantly, coach Snyder,” Gramática said. “When I met Snyder, I felt like he was the right fit and the perfect person to coach me. I don’t think I would be the player that I was without [Snyder].”
He succeeded under coach Snyder, creating memories for himself, the team and Wildcat football fans for years to come. One of which was enjoying the 1997 Fiesta Bowl win against the Syracuse Orange.
Gramática’s most memorable moment as a Wildcat happened during a play that lasted approximately six seconds. Five of those seconds were attributed to hang-time, as the Ring of Honor inductee nailed a 65-yard field goal for the fourth-longest in NCAA history and the longest without a tee.
The opportunity of a lifetime was full of unknowns leading into the play, including the distance. However, the help of a teammate and talent made it happen.
“The funny thing is — I didn’t even know how long it was: I knew it was long because I could see the Powercat logo while I was taking my steps back,” Gramática said. “I was literally standing on the sideline with my shoes untied, getting ready to go into the locker room, but every time I see Sean Snyder, I thank him for letting me kick that because he was the one who told his dad to let me take a shot at it.”
After his playing days ended at K-State, the kicker known as “Automática Gramática” received a phone call during the 1999 NFL Draft. It was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the 80th pick in the third round, making his dreams a reality.
“It’s a phone call I’ll never forget,” Gramática said. “It’s crazy though because I got the phone call and nothing really happened. Of course, I was excited, but nothing really sat in until I saw my name go across the screen on ESPN. Seeing the banner that said, ‘Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Martín Gramática’ is when everything really sat in, and I was just like ‘OK, this is really happening.'”
Gramática soon became a Super Bowl Champion after the Buccaneers routed the Oakland Raiders 48-21. The former Wildcat drilled two field goals and six extra points, accounting for 12 of the team’s 48 points to flash a ring on his finger.
“You feel like you’re on cloud nine,” Gramática said about winning a Super Bowl. “You go from the game being over to the interviews, to the team party, then you go back to Tampa and there’s a parade, and you go back to the stadium, so everything came all at once and you never really feel the weight settle in until after all of that. For those 4-5 days, it’s just an incredible feeling and you wish that you can rewind it and relive it. I wish that there was a pause button that I could hit at the time just to sit there and soak it all in”
Almost everything went right in his career, enjoying the teams he suited up for, the players he played with and the success he had — but Gramática wishes he could change one thing.
“There was one regret that I had in my career, and it happened during the Super Bowl year ,” Gramática said. “I had an injury, and I wish I’d gotten a second opinion. Since I didn’t, I had a surgery that was kind of misdiagnosed, and after that, my leg never really felt the same.”
Since those glory days have passed, Gramática has found various ways of helping people through Gramática SIPS International and the Gramática Family Foundation, which helps build homes for combat veterans. He also works for Life Guard Imaging, a company that conducts CT scans for potentially deadly diseases.
“The top two killers in America are heart disease and cancer. There really are no presumptive measures to take for those, so we scan for those,” Gramática said. “Our first office opened here in Tampa, [Florida], our second one in the Fort Meyers, [Florida] area and we’re opening one in Scottsdale, [Florida] coming up.”
The Ring of Honor inductee continues to share his heart with the world and with Wildcat football fans and former coaches. The Kansas Sports Hall of Famer (2013 inductee) wants one thing to continue from the K-State family and has a request for head coach Chris Klieman.
“The main thing that I want to say to the fans is never forget coach Snyder,” Gramática said. “K-State would be nothing without Snyder. I really hope that coach Klieman figures out a way to include Snyder. He deserves that at the least for what he has done for the university. To coach Snyder, thank you.”