The voice mailbox on Giorgio Tavecchio’s cell phone happened to be full on Monday morning when the Green Bay Packers’ front office came calling.
It wasn’t until the first-year kicker set foot inside Lambeau Field for practice that he discovered his services wouldn't be required.
Shortly after returning for work, the 23-year-old was summoned to the front office to meet with Packers general manager Ted Thompson, coach Mike McCarthy and special-teams coordinator Shawn Slocum.
A veteran of one camp with the San Francisco 49ers last year, Tavecchio knew immediately he was about to be given a pink slip - five months to the day since signing with Green Bay as camp competition for Mason Crosby.
“I was taken upstairs and obviously I knew exactly what was happening as soon as I was called upstairs,” said Tavecchio, back home in California after receiving his release Monday. “Initially, I was a little bit bummed, but as I look back, I’m filled with such gratitude. I feel so fortunate to be a part of the Packers’ family and this experience and this community, this team, this organization for that very short period of time.
“The football part of it is very important and I’m very pleased with how everything went on the field.”
The reality of the situation is Tavecchio was the long-shot free agent who made the Packers’ kicking competition with seventh-year incumbent Mason Crosby more of a battle than it should’ve ever been.
Signed off a tryout in March, Tavecchio actually outkicked Crosby for most of camp, going 86.4 percent of his field-goal attempts in live drills and preseason games combined while Crosby made 80.3 percent of his kicks.
However, Tavecchio was done in by lingering questions about his leg strength, leading the organization to bring in two kickers for tryouts on Monday en route to signing former Portland State standout Zach Ramirez, who’ll kick against Crosby in Thursday’s preseason finale against Kansas City.
In the only practice with the three kickers on Monday, both Crosby and Ramirez made 10-of-11 attempts while Tavecchio missed twice (45 and 63).
On Monday came the revelation that Tavecchio’s camp was over with a one-way trip back home to Moraga, Calif., where his parents, Renato and Gabriella, waited his arrival and a welcome-home dinner.
McCarthy and Slocum told both Tavecchio and the media on Monday there’s still a scenario in place where the 5-foot-10, 182-pound kicker could return, but only time will tell if those words are anything more than window dressing.
Tavecchio saw only six special-teams snaps in two preseason games, going 1-of-2 on field goal attempts two weeks ago against St. Louis with a make from 38 yards and a miss from 49, but had no qualms with snap distribution.
“I do feel I was treated very fairly,” Tavecchio said. “Of course, I would’ve loved to have gotten more attempts in games, but again that’s out of my control and coaches’ control to a certain extent, so I do feel like it was a very fair and honest competition.”
A gregarious and outgoing individual, Tavecchio had no problem weaving himself into the fabric of Green Bay. He was a frequent visitor of Kavarna Coffeehouse on Broadway and even branched out last month in going to the Pulaski Polka Days.
Before departing for San Francisco, Tavecchio made sure to thank Crosby and holder Tim Masthay for all that they’d done after getting to know the families of each player during his five months on the roster.
Tavecchio, who’s subject to waivers, plans to continue training and will be ready for the next call whenever it comes as he looks to extend his career past his four years at the University of California.
Could that call be from Green Bay? Possibly. If it ever does come, Tavecchio has no question in his mind he has the leg strength to kick in the elements.
"I do remember when my leg strength was called into question and to be honest, I wasn’t really offended,” Tavecchio said. “I think initially when I first got there I wasn’t hitting as solid of a ball as I thought or knew I could hit, so I think it was rooted a little bit of truth. Then, I know if I hit a solid ball, that kick will go straight and far anywhere.
"I hope to one day be able to experience that cold of the frozen tundra. Hopefully not as an opposing team but as a Packer.”
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