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Russell Erxleben
Date of birth: January 13, 1957 (1957-01-13) (age 53)
Place of birth: Seguin, Texas
Career information
Position(s): Placekicker
Punter
College: Texas
NFL Draft: 1979 / Round: 1 / Pick: 11
Organizations
 As player:
1979-1983
1987
New Orleans Saints
Detroit Lions
Playing stats at NFL.com

Russell Erxleben (born January 13, 1957 in Seguin, Texas) is a former American football player and currency investor. He shares the record for the longest field goal in NCAA history, originally set in 1977 while playing for the University of Texas. Erxleben was a three-time All-America punter (1976, 1977, and 1978). He was convicted of securities fraud in 1999, and was released from federal prison in 2005.

Contents

Early years

Erxleben was raised in Seguin, Texas, where he was a stand-out as a high school kicker. He had a conventional straight-on kicking style, using a two-step approach. Highly recruited, he entered the University of Texas as a top prospect in 1975.

University of Texas

He quickly earned a reputation as a reliable kicker for the Longhorns. In December of his freshman year, he played in the Bluebonnet Bowl against the University of Colorado. Despite early troubles in the game, including a missed field goal and a blocked extra point, Erxleben kicked a field goal late in the game, breaking the tie and securing the win for Texas.

In 1977, in a game against Rice University, he set the record for the longest field goal in NCAA history with a 67 yard kick. UT head coach Fred Akers said of the kick, "It was like a gunshot. We couldn't believe a ball was going that far. It had another eight yards on it." [1] The record was tied two weeks later by Steve Little of the University of Arkansas. Erxleben kicked two other field goals over sixty yards that season. Rule changes in NCAA football since 1977, specifically the prohibition against the use of kicking tees, as well as the placement of the ball following a failed kick, have discouraged such long attempts, and thus attempts to break the record are now rare. The longest field goal since the rule changes came in 1998, when Martin Gramatica of Kansas State made a 65-yard attempt.

Erxleben is the only three-time All-America punter in NCAA history, being a consensus choice in 1976, 1977, and 1978.

Professional playing career

In 1979 he was drafted in the first round (eleventh pick overall) by the New Orleans Saints. The unexpected selection, the eleventh overall in the draft, remains the highest selection of a kicker in the draft. The Saints hoped to save a roster spot by having him perform both the place-kicking and punting duties. He played ten seasons in the NFL, primarily as a punter. He later played for the Detroit Lions and retired in 1988. Despite his stellar college career, he was not considered a standout on the pro level, and did not make the Pro Bowl during his NFL career.

His first NFL game was a portent of his pro career. On September 2, 1979, the Saints and the archrival Atlanta Falcons went into overtime with the game tied 34-34. Midway through overtime, a snap went over Erxleben's head and rolled to the goal line. Erxleben picked the ball up and made a hurried chest pass. The pass was intercepted by Atlanta's James Mayberry at the 6-yard line, and he trotted into the end zone for a touchdown and a 40-34 Falcon victory. The loss proved to be devastating for the Saints, as it cost the team their first winning season. New Orleans finished the year at 8-8, one game behind the Los Angeles Rams, who won the division at 9-7 and played in Super Bowl XIV.

In the 1980 season opener, Erxleben blew a game-tying field goal attempt in a 26-23 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, a team that had won four games over the previous two seasons. The loss was the first of 14 consecutive defeats for the Saints, who ended the year 1-15.

Legal issues

After retiring from the NFL, he became a financial investor in foreign exchange trading, founding Austin Forex International in Austin, Texas. In 1999, following an investigation by the Texas State Securities Board and the Internal Revenue Service, Erxleben pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud, mail fraud and money laundering, and a second count for securities fraud, in connection with misleading statements regarding the past performance of Austin Forex. On September 18, 2000, Erxleben was sentenced by United States District Court Judge James R. Nowlin to 84 months in prison, and ordered to pay a total of $28 million in restitution and a one million dollar fine. Erxleben's lawyers, the law firm of Locke, Liddell & Sapp, settled a related lawsuit for $22m in 2000.

Family

Erxleben's son, Ryan Erxleben, is a punter for the Texas Tech University football team.

External links

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