Morten Andersen

Last updated

Morten Andersen
Morten Andersen at NFL Fan Rally.jpg
Andersen in 2010
No. 7, 5, 8
Position: Placekicker
Personal information
Born: (1960-08-19) 19 August 1960 (age 62)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:225 lb (102 kg)
Career information
High school: Indianapolis (IN) Ben Davis
College: Michigan State
NFL Draft: 1982  / Round: 4 / Pick: 86
Career history
Career highlights and awards
NFL records
  • Most games played: 382
  • Most consecutive games scoring: 360 (1983–2004, 2006–2007)
  • Most 50+ yard field goals in a game: 3 (tied)
Career NFL statistics
Games played:382
Field goals:565/709 (.797)
Extra points:849/859 (.988)
Points scored:2,544
Player stats at  ·  PFR

Morten Andersen (born 19 August 1960), nicknamed the "Great Dane", [1] is a Danish former American football placekicker who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 25 seasons, most notably with the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. Following a career from 1982 to 2007, Andersen holds the NFL record for regular season games played at 382. He also ranks second in field goals (565) and points scored (2,544). In addition to his league accomplishments, he is the Saints' all-time leading scorer at 1,318 points. Andersen was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017 and, along with Jan Stenerud, is only one of two exclusive placekickers to receive the honor. [2] [3]


Early life

Andersen was born in Copenhagen and raised in the west Jutland town of Struer. [4] As a student, he was a gymnast and a long jumper, and just missed becoming a member of the Danish junior national soccer team. He visited the United States in 1977 as a Youth For Understanding exchange student. [5] He first kicked an American football on a whim at Ben Davis High School in Indianapolis. He was so impressive in his one season of high school football that he was given a scholarship to Michigan State University.

Andersen, with his left leg as his dominant kicking leg, starred at Michigan State, setting several records, including a Big Ten Conference record 63-yard field goal against Ohio State University. He was named an All-American in 1981. His success landed him the kicking job with the New Orleans Saints. On 24 September 2011, he was inducted into the Michigan State University Athletics Hall of Fame.

Professional football career

Andersen's NFL career got off to a rocky start. On his first NFL kickoff to start the strike-shortened 1982 season, Andersen twisted his ankle and missed eight weeks of the season. [6] Despite the early setback, he soon emerged as one of the strongest and most reliable placekickers in the NFL. In his years with the Saints, he was named to six Pro Bowls, kicked 302 field goals, and scored 1318 points. In 1991, against Chicago, Andersen kicked a 60-yard field goal, tying him with Steve Cox for the second-longest field goal in league history at the time, behind 63-yard record-holder kicked by Tom Dempsey. Andersen's kick has since been matched by Rob Bironas, Dan Carpenter and Greg Zuerlein, and surpassed by Sebastian Janikowski (twice), Jason Elam, Justin Tucker, Jay Feely, Matt Bryant, David Akers, Matt Prater, Jake Elliott, Graham Gano, Brett Maher and Stephen Gostkowski. Andersen's proficiency with field goal kicking earned him the nickname "Mr. Automatic." Following the 1994 season, he was released by the Saints for salary cap purposes and because his accuracy had started to decline.

Following his release by the Saints, Andersen signed with the Atlanta Falcons. He silenced those who felt him to be washed up and was once again named a Pro Bowler during his time in Atlanta. In December 1995 against the Saints, he became the first player in NFL history to kick three field goals of over 50 yards in a single game.

In Week 17 of the 1996 season, Andersen missed a 30-yard field goal that enabled the Jacksonville Jaguars to make the playoffs. [7] Two years later, he kicked a game-winning field goal in overtime in the 1998 NFC Championship Game to beat the Minnesota Vikings and send the Falcons to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance.

There are a number of interesting coincidences between Andersen and former NFL placekicker Gary Anderson. Anderson and Andersen have nearly identical last names, were born within a year of one another outside the United States (Anderson was born in South Africa), came to the United States as teenagers, had long and successful NFL careers throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and hold first or second place in a number of NFL records for scoring, field goals, and longevity. Their overall accuracy is also nearly identical; their career percentage being within .5% of each other on both FGs and PATs. Also, Anderson missed a field goal in the 1998 NFC Championship Game for the Minnesota Vikings before Andersen kicked his winning kick, both from the same distance as well (38 yards).

Andersen went on to play with the New York Giants for the 2001 season, followed by the Kansas City Chiefs the following two seasons. In the 2004 offseason, Andersen was beaten out for the kicking job by rookie Lawrence Tynes. He was released by the Chiefs for the final roster cut, and was subsequently signed by the Vikings. Although his leg strength had declined greatly with age, he continued to prove himself accurate for field goals. Having not been signed by a team following the 2004 season, he became a free agent and did not play in 2005. He announced NFL Europe games in the 2005 season.

In January 2006, Andersen was inducted as the first member of the Danish American Football Federation Hall of Fame. Later that year, Andersen returned to the NFL, re-signing with the Atlanta Falcons; Andersen was brought in to help Michael Koenen, who was at the time performing double duty as punter and kicker (an extremely rare occurrence in the NFL) missing several field goals in that capacity, and Koenen reverted to strictly punting after Andersen's signing. His first game back was against his former team, the Saints, on Monday Night Football. The game was the first game in the Louisiana Superdome since Hurricane Katrina prevented its use for the entire 2005 regular season. Andersen scored the only Falcon points with a 26-yard field goal in the first quarter. In his second game back, Andersen made 5 of 5 field goals (matching his career-best for the ninth time), as well as both extra-point attempts. [8] He was named NFC special teams player of the week, becoming the oldest player to earn the honor since the award was first introduced in 1984. [9] He is the team record holder in points for the New Orleans Saints. [10]

On 16 December 2006, Andersen passed Gary Anderson to become the all-time leading scorer in NFL history. The following weekend, 24 December 2006, Andersen again passed Anderson to become the NFL's career leader in field goals made.

On 17 September 2007, he again signed with the Falcons in an attempt to secure their unreliable kicking game. By the end of the regular season, he had made 25 of 28 field goals (89.3%), the most accurate season of his career.

In the 2008 season, Andersen did not receive a contract offer from any team, but waited until 8 December to officially retire. [11] [12] Had he played on or after 6 December he would have been the oldest NFL player to play, breaking George Blanda's record. [13] [14]

On 6 November 2009, Andersen was inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame. [15] On 25 June 2011, Andersen was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. [16] On 10 August 2013, Andersen was inducted into the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame. [17] On 21 December 2015, he was inducted as the fourth member of the team's Ring of Honor. [18] [19] On 4 February 2017, it was announced that Andersen would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. [20]

On 10 September 2020, he launched a new Sports Gambling Podcast with the VegasInsider Podcast Network titled "Great Dane Nation" with co-host Tom "Freeze Pops" Carroll. [21]

Career regular season statistics

Career high/best bolded

Regular season statistics
SeasonTeam (record)GFGMFGA%<2020-2930-3940-4950+LNGBLKXPMXPA%PTS
1982 NO (4–5)82540.00–00–01–11–30–145066100.012
1983 NO (8–8)16182475.02–28–83–42–63–4521373897.491
1984 NO (7–9)16202774.10–09–94–45–112–35313434100.094
1985 NO (5–11)16313588.60–04–513–1411–123–4551272993.1108
1986 NO (7–9)16263086.71–111–116–76–62–55303030100.0120
1987 NO (12–3)12283677.83–36–69–98–122–65203737100.0121
1988 NO (10–6)16263672.21–111–128–115–81–4511323397.0110
1989 NO (9–7)16202969.00–07–810–113–60–4491444597.8104
1990 NO (8–8)16212777.80–05–55–68–123–45212929100.092
1991 NO (11–5)16253278.10–06–611–136–92–46003838100.0113
1992 NO (12–4)16293485.30–010–108–108–113–3520333497.1120
1993 NO (8–8)16283580.02–27–77–711–141–55603333100.0117
1994 NO (7–9)16283971.80–09–911–148–100–64833232100.0116
1995 ATL (9–7)16313783.81–18–811–113–88–9592293096.7122
1996 ATL (3–13)16222975.90–05–59–117–81–55413131100.097
1997 ATL (7–9)16232785.21–110–107–73–62–35503535100.0104
1998 ATL (14–2)16232882.10–18–97–76–92–2532515298.1120
1999 ATL (5–11)16152171.41–15–55–84–60–14913434100.079
2000 ATL (4–12)16253180.60–06–66–711–152–35102323100.098
2001 NYG (7–9)16232882.10–08–87–86–72–5510293096.798
2002 KC (8–8)14222684.80–06–610–105–91–15005151100.0117
2003 KC (13–3)16162080.00–03–38–85–80–1491585998.3106
2004 MIN (8–8)16182281.81–18–85–74–60–04804545100.099
2006 ATL (7–9)14202387.00–07–86–67–80–14512727100.087
2007 ATL (4–12)14252889.30–09–912–124–70–04712424100.099
Career (25 seasons)38256570979.713–14176–181189–213147–21740–84601884985998.82544

NFL records

At the end of his career Andersen held the following NFL records (as of 2009):

Team Scoring Records:

Pro Bowl records:

Andersen holds 2nd place in the following NFL records:

Andersen had stated that his goal was to be the first NFL player to play until he turned 50 in 2010. However, he retired just two days after he would have become the oldest player ever to appear in an NFL game, if he had played for a team at the time. The record held by George Blanda still stands – Blanda played in his last NFL game on 4 January 1976 (the 1975 AFC Championship) at the age of 48 years, 109 days. [31]

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Preceded by
Gary Anderson
Career NFL points record holder

Succeeded by
Preceded by Career NFL field goals made

Succeeded by
Preceded by Career NFL field goal attempts

Succeeded by