Jan Stenerud

Last updated

Jan Stenerud
Stenerud in 2005
No. 3, 10
Position: Placekicker
Personal information
Born: (1942-11-26) November 26, 1942 (age 79)
Fetsund, Norway
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:187 lb (85 kg)
Career information
College: Montana State
AFL Draft: 1966  / Round:  Red Shirt 3  / Pick: 24
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Field goals:373/558 (66.8%)
Longest field goal:55
Extra points:580/601 (96.5%)
Points scored:1,699
Player stats at NFL.com  ·  PFR

Jan Stenerud ( /ˈstɛnərd/ , Norwegian:  [ˈstèːnərʉːd] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ); born November 26, 1942) is a Norwegian-American former football placekicker who played in the National Football League (NFL) and American Football League (AFL) for 19 seasons, primarily with Kansas City Chiefs. The first Norwegian NFL player, he began his career in the AFL after being selected by the Chiefs during the 1966 draft and joined the NFL following the AFL–NFL merger. Along with his 13 seasons in Kansas City, Stenerud was a member of the Green Bay Packers for four seasons and the Minnesota Vikings for two seasons until retiring in 1985.


Stenerud was a six-time all-star (four NFL Pro Bowls and two AFL All-Star games) during his career, as well as a four-time first-team All-Pro in the NFL and a two-time first-team All-AFL. The season prior to the AFL–NFL merger, he also helped the Chiefs win their first Super Bowl title in Super Bowl IV. He was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991 as the first exclusive placekicker to receive the honor.


Born in Fetsund, in the county of Akershus, Norway to parents Johan Stenerud, and Klara (Kjustad) Stenerud, Stenerud came to the United States as a college student, on a ski jumping scholarship to Montana State University in Bozeman. [1] [2] In the fall of 1964, Stenerud was training for the upcoming ski season by running the stadium steps of Gatton Field, the football venue through 1971. That day, he was cooling down from a workout by kicking a football with injured halfback Dale Jackson. Stenerud had played soccer as a youth in Norway, and his right leg's prowess was observed by basketball head coach Roger Craft, while he walked to the nearby Fieldhouse. [2] Craft notified football head coach Jim Sweeney of the Norwegian ski jumper's kicking abilities, and Sweeney offered him a tryout, which was successful. Though ineligible for football competition that season, Sweeney encouraged Stenerud to suit up with the team for the final home game of 1964, to help him better understand the unfamiliar American game. [3] [4]

Following the ski season, Stenerud joined the football team for spring drills in 1965 and as a junior that fall he kicked a 59-yard field goal, then a college football record, in a 24–7 home win over rival Montana. [3] [5] In 2013, Stenerud recalled that he had a significant tail-wind aiding him on that kick in Bozeman; the ensuing kick-off went over the end-zone bleachers at Gatton Field, [4] whose elevation exceeded 4,900 feet (1,495 m) above sea level. [6] He was named an All-American by The Sporting News as a senior in 1966, [4] and was also an All-American in ski jumping and a three-time Big Sky champion. [7]

Professional career

Stenerud with the KC Chiefs, c. 1967 Jan stenerud chiefs signed photo.jpg
Stenerud with the KC Chiefs, c. 1967

Stenerud was one of the first professional football players to be used as a dedicated kicker, because of his excellent "sharpshooting" ball-kicking performance. He was one of the first placekickers to use the "soccer style", a technique the Hungarian-born Pete Gogolak had recently introduced in the AFL. During his first three years as professional, the last seasons for the AFL, Stenerud hit 70% of his field goals, compared with a 53% average for the other kickers in the AFL and NFL.

The Chiefs were the final AFL champions in 1969, and they met the NFL Champion Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV in New Orleans. The underdog Chiefs won 23–7, and Stenerud kicked three field goals, scoring the first nine points of the game. His first, a 48-yarder, was the longest field goal in a Super Bowl for 24 years, exceeded by Steve Christie of the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII in January 1994.

On Christmas Day 1971, the Chiefs hosted the Miami Dolphins in an AFC divisional playoff game. In perhaps his toughest day as a professional, Stenerud made a 24-yard field goal in the first quarter, but then missed from 29 and 32 yards, the latter with 35 seconds remaining in regulation, and had a 42-yarder blocked three minutes into overtime. [8] The Dolphins won 27–24 in double overtime on a 37-yard field goal by Garo Yepremian. [9] [10] Through 2017, the game remains the longest in NFL history at 82 minutes, 40 seconds of playing time, and was also the final football game in Municipal Stadium.

Stenerud's name in the Chiefs' ring of honor at Arrowhead Stadium, June 2008 Jan Stenerud.JPG
Stenerud's name in the Chiefs' ring of honor at Arrowhead Stadium, June 2008

Stenerud retired after the 1985 season, his 19th (3 AFL, 16 NFL). He converted 373 out of 558 field goals (67 percent) and 580 out of 601 extra points (97%) for a total of 1,699 points scored. At the time of his retirement, he was the longest-tenured (19 years) professional football player to have played in the AFL.

Enshrined in 1991, Stenerud, along with George Blanda, Lou Groza, Ray Guy, and 2017 inductee Morten Andersen, is one of only five kicking specialists in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and is one of three who did not play another position (Blanda played quarterback, Groza was a tackle). The Chiefs retired Stenerud's jersey number 3 in his honor. In 1994, he was selected to the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team.

In recent years, Stenerud has been involved in a Kansas City firm involved in designing stadiums and sports arenas. He also worked as a commentator for Scandinavian TV channel TV3's Super Bowl Sunday coverage in the 1990s, and still maintains strong ties with his native Norway. The street where he grew up, in the municipality Fetsund, was renamed in his honor.

Career regular season statistics

Career high/best bolded

Career high/best bolded

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  1. "Montana's Mt. Rushmore of Sports". ESPN. February 2, 2009. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  2. 1 2 Nuanez, Colter (April 25, 2013). "Hometown Hero: Bobcat legend Jan Stenerud honored by MSU, Pro Football Hall of Fame". Bobcat Nation. Archived from the original on January 8, 2014. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  3. 1 2 "Stenerud to be honored by Hall of Fame in Bozeman Thursday". Montana State University Athletics. April 19, 2013. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  4. 1 2 3 "Bobcat legend Stenerud to be honored in Bozeman". Missoulian. (Montana). Billings Gazette news services. April 25, 2013. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  5. "Montana State, 24-7". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. November 7, 1965. p. 3B. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  6. Cummings, Rial. "The distinctions aren't as easy to make any more, but, God willing, some things will never change". Missoulian.com. Archived from the original on March 8, 2001. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  7. Putnam, Pat (November 4, 1968). "Big kick out of a strange game". Sports Illustrated: 74.
  8. "Kicker climaxes longest tussle". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. Associated Press. December 27, 1971. p. 16. Retrieved December 18, 2019.
  9. Underwood, John (January 3, 1972). "Up, up, up and away". Sports Illustrated: 12.
  10. "Yepremian boots FG in long battle". Youngstown Vindicator. Ohio. Associated Press. December 26, 1971. p. D-1. Retrieved December 18, 2019.