When you're a punter in the NFL, you only last for 15 years if you're consistently good and Kern was consistently good. Kern will finish his career with a punting average of 45.9 yards, which ranks 11th best in NFL history. It's an impressive average, considering he was asked to punt the ball 1,006 times, which is 25th most in NFL history. Of Kern's 1,006 punts, he placed 396 of those inside his opponents' 20-yard line, which is a wildly impressive number.
Kern never won a Super Bowl, but he did come close last year. After the Eagles lost punter Arryn Siposs to injury late in the season, they turned to Kern, who punted the final four regular-season games, along with two playoff games. However, Kern didn't get to punt in the Super Bowl because Siposs returned for the game.
Kern's career started in 2008 when he signed with the Broncos after going undrafted. Kern shined as a rookie, averaging 46.7 yards per punt, which ranked fifth in the NFL.
In 2009, Kern was in the middle of another strong season with the Broncos, but after just six weeks, the coach at the time, Josh McDaniels, inexplicably made the decision to cut him.
It's a decision McDaniels would regret for a long time.
Denver's loss was Tennessee's gain. After getting cut by the Broncos, Kern signed with the Titans, and that's where he would end up spending 12 and a half seasons of his career.
Kern had an exceptional three-year run starting in 2017 that included three Pro Bowl nods (2017-19) and a first-team All-Pro honor (2019). Although he was named an All-Pro in 2019, the 2017 season was arguably the best one of his career. Not only did he lead the league in punting with an average of 49.7 yards per punt, but he also led the NFL in net punting with an average of 44.6 that still stands as the fifth-best net punting season in NFL history.
Not only was Kern a great punter, but he also came up in the clutch. During the 2019 playoffs, he put one of the final nails in the coffin of Tom Brady's Patriots career when he pinned New England on its own one-yard line with under 30 second left to play in a wild-card game that the Titans would win 20-13. (After Kern pinned the Patriots back, Brady ended up throwing a pick-six.)
Kern is retiring as the Titans' all-time career leader in punts (923), punting average (45.9 yards) and net punting average (40.8).
"I want to congratulate Brett on an amazing NFL career," Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said in a statement. "He was a true professional and one of the important players who helped our organization reach the level of success that we have sustained for a number of years now. After being named to three Pro Bowls, receiving All-Pro honors and setting record after record, he would be on a very short list of the best waiver claims our organization has ever made."
It's not often you see an undrafted player last 15 years in the NFL, but that's exactly what Kern did, making him a special player at one of the NFL's most unappreciated positions.