Kickin’ It

Morten Andersen may lose the record as the NFL’s all-time leading scorer this fall, but he is enjoying some of the best years of his life.

Morten Andersen hasn’t played football in a decade, but he’s enjoying quite the winning streak over the past 10 years. In that time, he and his career achievements have been honored with multiple accolades. He was added to the Saints Hall of Fame in 2009. In 2015, he became the fourth member added to the New Orleans Saints’ Ring of Honor, joining Archie Manning, Rickey Jackson, and Willie Roaf. Last summer, Andersen became the third Saint (Roaf, Jackson) and only the second pure kicker (Jan Stenerud in 1991) to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This summer, he’s unveiling a documentary film, which highlights his career and gives a behind the scenes look at the events and emotions of being added to the game’s greats in Canton, Ohio.

“It’s been a great couple of years,” Andersen said of his recent honors. “Twenty-five years flew by, but I’m proud to say I was able to sustain high excellence, playing at a high level for two and a half decades.”

Andersen joined the Saints at one of the major turning points in the franchise’s history. The team drafted him in with the 86th overall pick in the fourth round of the 1982 NFL Draft. He arrived in New Orleans at the intersection of the end of Archie Manning’s playing career with the Saints and the beginning of Tom Benson’s ownership of the club, when the Saints – and their faithful – first experienced sustained winning. Along with a dominant defense led by the Dome patrol, Rickey Jackson, Sam Mills, Vaughn Johnson, and Pat Swilling, Andersen’s left foot help change the franchise from NFL pretenders to contenders. The defense kept opposing teams out of the end zone, and the anemic offense was just good enough to get Andersen in position to split the uprights. He was extremely accurate, and kicking from further than 50 yards out didn’t seem to faze him. Although he played for five teams in his career, Morten is a Saints icon. He’s the club’s all-time leading scorer (1,318 points), and for 13 seasons, he was one of the most popular players on the roster and remains one of the fan’s favorite Saints alumni. Of course, the lefty was released by the Saints as a salary cap casualty after the 1994 season. He signed with the archrival Atlanta Falcons, where, over eight seasons, he also became that franchise’s all time leading scorer (806).

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“The Great Dane” ended his 25-year NFL career in 2008 as the league’s all-time leading scorer (2,544 points), as well as all-time leader in games played (382), extra points in a career (412), field goals made in a career (302), field goal attempts (389), field goals made in a season (31), and field goals made in a game (5). Additionally, he’s one of 25 players and the only kicker who made two all-decade teams, 1980s and 1990s.

Before being added to the Hall of fame, Saints Owner Tom Benson said “Morten is one of the greatest players in our team’s history and arguably the best kicker in NFL history. The reliability and excellence that he provided for us at the kicker position during his tenure with the Saints has been unmatched. Morten is a big part of the tradition and success of this organization and we would like to congratulate him.”

Andersen had a tight bond with Benson. He was the player representative chosen to speak when the 13.5-foot-tall bronze statue of the team owner was unveiled between the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and Champions’ Square, and was thankful for the time he got to spend with his former boss in recent years before Benson died this spring.

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“I was so happy to spend time with Tom and Gayle Benson before he passed,” Andersen said. “I was honored to represent the Saints, and I’ve always had an affection for the club and the city.”

While Andersen has enjoyed the laurels of his success, he is sure he will not retain all of the records he holds. He believes the Indianapolis Colts’ Adam Vinatieri, who at 45 is the oldest active player in the NFL, will score the 58 points he needs to become the NFL’s new all-time leading scorer.

“It’s a significant record, one I’ve been proud of,” said Andersen. “But the game evolves, and records are meant to be broken.”

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