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Gary Anderson
Position(s)
Kicker
Jersey #(s)
1
Born 16 July 1959 (1959-07-16) (age 50)
Parys, Orange Free State, South Africa
Career information
Year(s) 19822004
NFL Draft 1982 / Round: 7 / Pick: 171
College Syracuse
Professional teams
Career stats
FG Att 672
FGM 538
Pct 80.1
Stats at NFL.com
Career highlights and awards

Gary Allan Anderson (born July 16, 1959 in Parys, Free State, South Africa) is a former American football placekicker. He was the first NFL kicker to have a "perfect season," successfully making every field goal and every PAT during regular season play.[1]

Contents

Early life

Anderson was born in Parys, South Africa and grew up in Durban. His father was an Irish born Protestant pastor and former professional soccer player. His mother was South African. Shortly after Gary graduated from high school at Brettonwood High, Reverend Anderson left South Africa and moved his family to the United States to protest South Africa's policy of apartheid.

Anderson hoped to follow in his father's footsteps and become a professional soccer player in Europe. While practicing soccer at a high school football field in Downingtown, Pennsylvania, he began practicing kicking field goals with a rugby ball. When the high school coach Charles Chiccino saw him, he arranged a tryout for four scouts from Syracuse, Georgia, Indiana and South Carolina. After the tryout, all four scouts offered scholarships on the spot. Gary chose Syracuse after they promised him that he would also be able to play on the school's soccer team. He played for the Syracuse soccer team in 1978 and 1979, scoring nineteen goals, before devoting himself to football his junior and senior seasons.[2]

Professional career

After graduating from Syracuse University, he was drafted as a placekicker by the Buffalo Bills in the 1982 NFL Draft but was cut before the season began. He then, within a few days, signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers and spent the following 12 seasons in Pittsburgh. For the 1995 season, Anderson signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles. He spent the 1997 season as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

There are a number of interesting coincidences between Anderson and Morten Andersen. Anderson and Andersen have nearly identical last names, were born within a year of one another outside the United States (Andersen was born in Denmark), 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.

He also had the distinction of wearing a one-bar facemask throughout his career, even though the NFL outlawed their use prior to his final season in 2004 - he, along with Arizona Cardinals punter Scott Player, were afforded a grandfather clause.

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1998, the "almost perfect" season

In 1998, Anderson signed with the Minnesota Vikings and converted all 35 of his attempted field goals and all 59 extra points in regular season play, becoming the first placekicker to finish the regular season with a 100% success rate on both field goals and extra points. However, Anderson would miss his most crucial attempt of the season in the NFC Championship Game vs. the Atlanta Falcons. With the Vikings leading 27-20 with 2:07 left in the 4th quarter, Anderson lined up for a 38-yard field goal to give them a two possession lead. A converted kick would have, barring a miracle, delivered the Vikings to their first Super Bowl in 22 years. The missed kick gave the Falcons a chance, and they took full advantage of it by traveling down the field and scoring the tying touchdown sending the game to overtime. The Falcons would then win the game in overtime on, coincidently, a 38-yard kick by Morten Andersen at almost the same spot. It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Vikings who went 15-1 in the regular season.[3]

NFL records

  • Points in a single season with no touchdowns scored, kicking 59 PATs and 35 field goals in 1998 for a total of 164 points
  • Points scored on Monday Night: 241
  • PATS made/attempted on Monday Night: 88/88
  • Field goals made on Monday Night: 51
  • Field goals attempted on Monday Night: 66-tied with Jason Elam
  • Games with at least 3 field goals: 76
  • Games with at least 3 PATs: 127
  • Games with at least 2 PATs: 216
  • Games with at least 10 points: 85
  • Consecutive seasons with at least 50 points: 23, (1982-2004)
  • Oldest player to kick 6 field goals in a game: 39 years, 150 days
  • Oldest player to score 20 points in a game: 39 years, 150 days
  • PATs made/attempted in postseason: 57/57
  • 2nd place for most career points in the NFL with 2,434. He held the record for several years after passing George Blanda's old record in October 2000, but was himself passed by Morten Andersen in 2006.
  • Held a record for 16 straight postseason field goals (broken by David Akers on January 11, 2009).

Retirement

Anderson stayed with the Vikings until the 2003 season, when he joined the Tennessee Titans out of retirement as a replacement for the injured Joe Nedney after the first game of the season. After that season, Anderson again retired and turned down offers from several teams to come kick for them. When Nedney went down with another season-ending injury after the start of the 2004 season, Anderson again agreed to unretire for the Titans.

Anderson re-retired at the end of the 2004 season and currently resides in Canmore, Alberta, Canada. He operates a fly fishing charter business called Perfect Season, as well as coaching teenage soccer. At the time of his retirement, Anderson was the last active player in the NFL to have played under former Steelers head coach Chuck Noll. Anderson lives at Canmore, Alberta, Canada with his wife Kay, and sons Austin and Douglas. Austin, began his University career the Fall of 2008 as a Freshman at the McGill University in Montreal, Quebec[4]

Notes and references

  1. ^ While Anderson was the first to have a "perfect" regular season, Mike Vanderjagt was the first kicker to have a "perfect season" that included the playoffs.
  2. ^ Syracuse all time soccer letterwinners
  3. ^ http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/football/nfl/1998/playoffs/news/1999/01/17/falcons_first/
  4. ^ PROFILE-AUSTIN ANDERSON: Family values

External links

Preceded by
George Blanda
(2,002)
Career NFL points record holder
(2,434)

2000–2006
Succeeded by
Morten Andersen

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