Last Friday, Behind The Steel Curtain podcast director Brian Anthony Davis had an exclusive interview with Hall of Fame kicker Morten Andersen. While the two discussed his time with multiple NFL franchises, Anderson brought up the similar career path he shared with Steelers kicker Gary Anderson.
“I thought it was always unique now that we have this Steeler angle on your podcast that one of your greatest kickers, Gary Anderson who came from University of Syracuse, him and I actually played against each other in college,” Andersen stated. “I went to Michigan State and we played Syracuse one year — my senior year, I think it was. I remember then saying ‘wow, this guy is really good.’ And yeah, he was really good for a lot of years.”
Both kickers were taken in the 1982 draft with Morten going in the fourth round to the New Orleans Saints while Gary was selected in the seventh round by the Buffalo Bills. Cut before the start of the season, Gary Anderson signed immediately with the Pittsburgh Steelers and played for 12 seasons earning three Pro Bowl selections while in Pittsburgh. Gary also notched another Pro Bowl and All-Pro season in 1998 with the Minnesota Vikings.
As for Morten Andersen, he earned seven Pro Bowl’s and three All-Pro selections in his years in New Orleans and Atlanta.
Morten went on to explain how his and Gary’s careers took a very similar path.
“So our our careers kind of aligned and mirrored each other for the longest time. Although our kicking styles were not similar — I would say Gary was more of a natural-feel type of kicker and I was more of a technical mechanical kicker. He he made it look so easy, but our careers kind of followed. Not only in college but at the pro level. So I always had an eye on him as far as what’s Gary doing this week and how is he performing and he was always at a really high level. So that motivated me.”
Having both played as kickers in the NFL for more than 20 years and having the same last name, Morten Andersen was asked if he had ever been confused with Gary, especially by Steelers fans.
“No, I think they knew,” Andersen went on to explain. “I’m 6’2” and I don’t think Gary is 6’2”. That’s not a dig on Gary.”
At 5‘11“, Gary Anderson was not known for his size or brute strength in putting the ball through the uprights. But for the small kicker from South Africa, his ability to kick the long ball was not in question.
“Gary brought a heavy punch, man, in that small body,” Morten explained before going on to describe the differences between the two kickers and their relationship through the years. “The names were so close. Gary’s from South Africa, I’m from Denmark. We both probably have accents. I would contend he has more of an accent that I do but it’s a friendly banter. Him and I have been on some cruises together and it’s been great to get to know him. I haven’t seen him in a little bit. I think he’s up in Canmore, Canada now doing a fly-fishing venture. But I hope to see him again.”
Most importantly, Morten offered up his thoughts on Gary Anderson‘s resume for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I think he belongs to the Hall of Fame. When he gets into the Hall of Fame, they’re not going to mistake him for me because I’m there. And he needs to be there. That’s my endorsement. I really think he deserves it. He just had a great career and I’m hopeful that he will be included soon.”
One particular kick which is believed to factor into Gary Anderson‘s resume was the miss in the 1998 NFC Championship game. Morten was asked if this particular kick is keeping Gary Anderson out of the Hall of Fame, especially since it was Morten who had the game-winning kick in overtime to send the Falcons past the Vikings and into the Super Bowl.
“I really hope not because that would be unfair to Gary and his legacy and his career. People forget he was 35 for 35 that year. He was perfect. He was perfect that year until the NFC championship game. And the kick missed by a foot, maybe. I mean, it just grazed the left upright. So, it was a tough one to take. He did it with class. He sat that he spoke to the media. He didn’t back away. He didn’t make excuses. So I felt for him as happy and as excited as we were and I was to help my team go to the Super Bowl, I certainly felt I could relate and what his feelings were absolutely resonated with me. He was stoic, he was classy in the way he handled it I thought, and to me should not tarnish his legacy or his chances to get into the Hall.”
So what are your thoughts? Being 3rd in points scored in NFL history behind Adam Vinatieri and Morten Andersen, does Gary Anderson deserve to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Please leave your answer in the comments below.