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Swede success: Kimrin is NFL's second player from Sweden

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) _ As only the second Swedish player in NFL history, Washington Redskins kicker Ola Kimrin hears a few unusual questions in the locker room.

They do ask me about the blond girls with blue eyes,'' he said.They might have to come and see that for themselves.''

To date, however, Kimrin has yet to convince any of his teammates to visit his homeland. For now, they're just happy to have a capable substitute, whatever the nationality, while regular kicker John Hall recovers from a strained groin.

Until Kimrin made two field goals and an extra point against Chicago on Oct. 17, Bjorn Nittmo had been the only Swede to play in the NFL. Nittmo played in six games with the New York Giants in 1989.

``He was big over there when he got in,'' Kimrin said.

Now Kimrin is big back home. A Swedish magazine was following him around last week. His mother, father, grandmother, brother and girlfriend all made the trans-Atlantic flight for his second game, Sunday's 28-14 loss to Green Bay.

This is real. This is it. No matter what happens, I can say I did it,'' Kimrin said.That feels good. I didn't spend these four years chasing a dream for nothing.''

Kimrin kicked for a year in Sweden's amateur league before a friend living in the United States persuaded him to give the sunny weather of southwest Texas a try. Kimrin was accepted at Texas-El Paso and walked on to the football team, although he was used primarily for kickoffs because the school already had an established kicker.

Kimrin has since played three seasons in NFL Europe and was in training camps with Denver and Dallas. His claim to fame is a 65-yard field goal for the Broncos in an exhibition game in 2002, a kick two yards longer than the NFL regular-season record. Although the kick was at altitude, Kimrin said he made 65-yarders during this year's training camp with the Redskins.

Yet, no matter how well he kicked, Kimrin had virtually no chance of making Washington's roster out of camp. He was brought in as token competition for Hall, who kicked well last year and has a big salary. Kimrin was just hoping to get some good exposure in the exhibitions, and he did with a 39-yard field goal to beat Denver in the Hall of Fame game.

But no team came calling after the Redskins cut him. After several weeks of waiting, Kimrin flew home to Malmo to take a job laying cables for his father's computer company. He was on the plane to Europe when Hall was injured during a practice, forcing Kimrin to fly back the very next day.

Kimrin made field goals of 41 and 26 yards in the three-point victory over the Bears in his NFL debut, bragging on the sideline before the second attempt that he would make it and prove the team hadn't made a mistake in signing him. One thing he doesn't lack is confidence, even before a huge crowd.

I would be more frightened having a speech in front of 25 people than kicking in front of 90 (thousand),'' Kimrin said,because you don't see faces.''

Kimrin couldn't repeat the performance with his family and girlfriend in attendance against Green Bay. He had three kickoffs and made both extra points, but his only field goal attempt was a 35-yarder that clanged off the left upright on a breezy day.

Kimrin's third game comes Sunday at Detroit, but he knows he'll be cut as soon as Hall is healthy in another week or two. Kimrin is 32 years old he started college late so he doesn't have much time left to become an established kicker.

I'll probably stick around for a while and see what happens,'' Kimrin said.Later in the year, when it gets cold, people get hurt. If nobody even takes a look at me from the day I get cut for another three weeks, I might as well go home. Next year, hopefully, I'll get picked up.''

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