CANTON, Ohio (WHBC) – Until 2017, only one exclusive NFL placekicker had been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and his name was Jan Stenerud. The Norwegian Stenerud was inducted into the Hall in 1991. Stenerud was most famously known as a member of the Chiefs. Fast forward and now as part of the class of 2017, placekicker Morten Andersen will have a place in Canton Ohio.
“The Great Dane” as he is known by many, had a prolific career playing over 20 seasons in the National Football League. Andersen is the all-time leader in games played in the NFL at 382; in addition, he also holds the distinction of being the all-time leading scorer in league history. He played with the Saints, Falcons, Chiefs, Giants and Vikings. He was named to seven Pro Bowls and was a five time all-pro selection.
“It’s overwhelming,” Andersen stated today after waiting for years to be in Canton. It’s very rare for a specialist to be inducted into the Hall. Ray Guy and Morten Andersen have both been inducted in the last four years. Guy was a punter for the Raiders in the 1970s and many experts felt he was not deserving of the Hall of Fame spot. Listen to what Andersen stated makes him a member of the Hall and why he shouldn’t be the last specialist inducted for a while:
The specialist is an important part of the game that should continue to be recognized by the Hall. How times have you been rooting for your favorite team to win a game and it comes down to a kick? “I didn’t really have a coach; I was pretty self-taught… a lot of trial by error” Andersen said about himself. “I created my own ‘Team Andersen.’” He was better because of his system and now will have a bust in Canton.
Andersen learned a lot from Stenerud and others before him like placekickers Pete and Charlie Gogolak, who revolutionized place kicking with their soccer style form. Pete played for the Bills and the Giants. Charlie spent time with the Redskins and the Patriots. Soccer style kicking had hit the league. Kicking from an angle and with the side of your foot was a new technique, which Stenerud made a weapon:
“I hope we don’t have another 21 years where no one gets in. I’m not saying a specialist should go in every single year. Every three to five years, we gotta get a guy in there.” Andersen said at Canton McKinley High School on Friday. He and Stenerud echoed similar thoughts about specialists getting into the Hall. Many feel longtime Patriot and Colt Adam Vinatieri will be next, but why can’t another punter go in sometime soon?
We always talk about the quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, linebackers and even linemen. Why are specialists so easily forgotten? They are a huge facet of the football game. Hall of Fame coach George Allen of the Rams and Redskins put an emphasis on special teams play as many current coaches do each Sunday. Hall of Fame recognition for Andersen, Stenerud and Guy is a start, but it shouldn’t be the finish line.