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Mike Vanderjagt
No. 12, 13     
Kicker
Personal information
Date of birth: March 24, 1970 (1970-03-24) (age 39)
Place of birth: Oakville, Ontario
Height: 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) Weight: 218 lb (99 kg)
Career information
College: Michigan State
Allan Hancock Community College
West Virginia
Undrafted in 1993
Debuted in 1993 for the Saskatchewan Roughriders
Last played in 2008 for the Toronto Argonauts
Career history
 As player:
Career highlights and awards
Stats at NFL.com
Stats at CFL.ca

Michael John "Mike" Vanderjagt (pronounced /ˈvændərdʒæt/; born March 24, 1970 in Oakville, Ontario), is a professional American and Canadian football placekicker and punter who has played in both the Canadian Football League and National Football League. On May 31, 2008, Vanderjagt returned to the Toronto Argonauts, where he played from 1996-1997, to be their starting kicker.[1][2]

He was the most accurate field goal kicker in NFL history of all kickers with at least 100 field goal attempts (230 of 266, 86.5% as of September 2009),[3 ][4] until Nate Kaeding broke his record in 2009.

Contents

Early years

Vanderjagt played four different sports for Oakville's White Oaks High School: football, basketball, soccer, and track.

College career

Vanderjagt began his college career at Michigan State University, where he was a quarterback in 1988. However, he left Michigan State for Allan Hancock Community College in Santa Maria, California where he took over placekicking duties from exiting freshman Jack Garvin (who left for the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in Division I). Vanderjagt punted and played quarterback for AHCC until returning to Division I football, as solely a punter and placekicker, at West Virginia University for the 1991 and 1992 seasons.

CFL 1993–1997

After graduating from WVU in 1993, he returned to Canada and started a career in the Canadian Football League, where his career got off to a bumpy start. Between 1993 and 1996 he was cut by four different CFL teams[5], getting some brief playing time with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1993. Not playing in the league in 1994 or 1995 Vanderjagt played for the Minnesota Fighting Pike of the Arena Football League before returning to the Toronto Argonauts (who had previously cut him twice) for the 1996 season. He became a vital part of Argos for the next two seasons serving as their regular placekicker and punter. He helped the Argos win the Grey Cup in both 1996 and 1997; in those two games he was a perfect 9 of 9. For his 1996 Grey Cup efforts he was named the game's outstanding Canadian. He also led the CFL in yardage per punt in 1997. Following the 1997 season, Vanderjagt left the Argos to become a free agent, ultimately to play in the National Football League.

NFL career

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Indianapolis Colts

In 1998, Vanderjagt crossed the border again but this time he joined the Indianapolis Colts of the NFL, and was a fixture as the club's placekicker until the end of the 2005 season. He led the NFL in scoring in 1999.

After the 2002 season, Vanderjagt put himself in the center of a media firestorm in an interview for the Canadian television network The Score, on their "Score Tonight" primetime show. After a 41-0 playoff loss to the New York Jets, he criticized Colts quarterback Peyton Manning for not showing more emotion, and implied that head coach Tony Dungy was too placid and not enough of a motivator. He apologized several days later for his remarks, but Manning later fired back in a sideline interview at the Pro Bowl, referring to him as "our idiot kicker who got liquored up and ran his mouth off."[6]

Vanderjagt had a spectacular 2003 season, becoming the first kicker in the league's history to go an entire season, including the playoffs, without missing a field goal or point-after attempt. (In 1998, Gary Anderson was perfect in the regular season, but missed a field goal attempt in the playoffs.) In the process, he made his first Pro Bowl and was named first team All-Pro. He finished the regular season 37 for 37 in field goals and 46 for 46 in PATs. He was also perfect on three field-goal attempts and 12 PATs in the postseason. He did however miss a potential game tying 51 yard field goal in that season's Pro Bowl with three seconds left in a 55-52 loss to the NFC. Vanderjagt's streak of 42 consecutive successful field goal attempts, the longest in NFL history (the league does not include postseason or Pro Bowl games when compiling streaks), ended on September 9, 2004 when he missed a 48-yard attempt against the New England Patriots.

In 2004, he kicked 20 field goals, the lowest number of his career. However, he also had considerably fewer field goal chances that season (25), as the Colts offense scored 61 touchdowns (nearly four per game), with Manning throwing a then NFL record 49 TD passes.

After the Colts routed the Denver Broncos in the wild-card round of the 2004 playoffs, he told reporters that the Colts' opponents in the next round of the playoffs, the New England Patriots, were "ripe for the picking," and also said "I think they're not as good as the beginning of the year and not as good as last year" (when they won the Super Bowl). Patriots safety Rodney Harrison fired back at him in an interview, calling him "Vanderjerk". Harrison's teammate, linebacker Willie McGinest, was more temperate in his response, but noted that "there's going to be a whole bunch of plays when he's not going to be out there [on the field]. The rest of his guys will be out there dealing with it." The Patriots eventually defeated the Colts 20-3 and went on to win the Super Bowl.

Vanderjagt indicated in a radio interview during the season that he might not return to the Colts for 2005, as his cap number is $2.8 million and the Colts might not be willing to pick up his salary for that season. He noted that he may return to the CFL, where his professional career began. However, he eventually signed a reworked deal and returned to the Colts.

In the 2005 NFL Playoffs, in a tightly contested game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Vanderjagt missed a 46-yard field goal attempt wide right with 18 seconds remaining, when the Colts were behind 21-18, costing the Colts a chance at overtime and ending the team's season. Walking off the field after the kick, he took off his helmet and threw it to the ground in anger (which cost his team a meaningless 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty).

Shortly thereafter, on January 19, 2006, Vanderjagt appeared on a lighthearted segment of the Late Show with David Letterman, during which he successfully kicked a 46-yard field goal, outside Letterman's Manhattan studio. The famed host served as his holder. This appearance surprised some, as Letterman, a Colts fan, had spent considerable air time on his show blasting Vanderjagt for his miss.

Discussing his catastrophic miss with Letterman, Vanderjagt joked that, "All the Steeler fans on the left side of the stadium, they all blew at the same time," and defended quarterback Manning against criticism, calling him the "Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan of football."

Dallas Cowboys

In the 2006 offseason, Vanderjagt became a free agent, and the Colts elected not to re-sign him. Instead, they signed free agent Adam Vinatieri, the kicker who had played an important part in the Patriots' recent successes. On March 23, Vanderjagt signed a three-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys.

Vanderjagt had a dismal preseason. He suffered a groin injury that kept him out of action for two weeks. He returned in the final preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. In that game, he missed two field goals in overtime of 32 and 33 yards (both misses were wide right), forcing the game to end in a tie. Rumors quickly spread that Vanderjagt would be released by the Cowboys before the regular season began. However, he remained with the team. He was replaced by back-up kicker Shaun Suisham in the first game of the season against Jacksonville, but appeared in each of the Cowboys' subsequent games through Week 12. In Week 9, his potential game-winning field goal was blocked by the Washington Redskins as time expired. In Week 11 against his former team, the Colts, he missed his only two field goal attempts, (both of these misses were also wide right) making it the first time since 2001 since he had done so. The fans were so upset, they booed a commercial he appeared in on stadium monitors. On November 27, 2006, Vanderjagt was released by the Cowboys and replaced by Martín Gramática.

Return to Argos

After sitting out the 2007 NFL season, Vanderjagt worked out with the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs[7] and, on May 31, 2008, the Toronto Argonauts signed Vanderjagt and traded their veteran kicker Noel Prefontaine to the Edmonton Eskimos.[2][8] Vanderjagt claimed he really wanted to return to Toronto and his hometown "regardless of what NFL team called" as he missed the sport, missed the area, and missed his friends and family, which include his wife Janalyn and their 9 year old son Jay Michael[9].[7] He was released on his request on May 28, 2009.[10]

Film appearance

Vanderjagt appeared in a Walt Disney film called The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon, where he was a stunt double for Tony Danza as a place kicker for the Philadelphia Eagles.

References

External links


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