|Morten AndersenFootball Player, 1982-2007
New Orleans Saints
As expected, Morten Andersen's election into the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame came swiftly and unanimously in his first year of eligibility. The Great Dane proved to be a virtual "shoo-in'' for the prestigious award, having one foot in the door and a leg up on the competition after a distinguished 25-year career in the National Football League, the first 13 with the New Orleans Saints (1982-94).
"This is a tremendous honor,'' Andersen said of his inclusion in the Class of 2013. "I know so well what the Saints mean to their loyal fan base. And the Sugar Bowl is such a prominent national sports organization. They do so much good for the local community with their many charitable endeavors. I've tried to conduct myself in a similar way both as a player and as a servant to others.''
Arguably, no one kicked a football between two unforgiving goal posts better than him.
Andersen went into the Saints Hall of Fame in 2009. Two years later, he joined the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame. He is currently one of 25 semifinalists for the Class of 2013 in the Pro Football Hall of Fame - and longtime NFL observers believe the left-footer is destined to land in Canton.
"If you follow football at all, you've got to marvel at the career Morten has had," said former Saints coach Jim Mora, who coached Andersen in New Orleans from 1986 through 1994 said. "Good kickers can make the 50-yarders in practice and in pregame warm-ups, but the great kickers are the ones who can put it through the uprights with the game on the line.
"Not only should Morten Andersen go down as the greatest kicker in NFL history, but he should go down as one of the great players in National Football League history," Mora added. "I really believe that.''
Andersen, a native of Denmark, finished his career as the Saints' and NFL's all-time leader with 1,318 and 2,544 points, respectively.
The seven-time Pro Bowl player is a member of the NFL's "All-Decade'' team for the 1980s and 1990s. In addition to the scoring record, Andersen set Saints franchise records with 302 field goals, 412 PATs and 196 games played. He made 77.6 percent of his field-goal attempts (302 of 389). He scored 100-plus points nine times with the Saints, including 121 in 1987 when they went to the playoffs for the first time in club history. Forhis full career, he holds NFL records in field goals made (565), attempts (709), points (2,544) and games played (382). Also ranks second in extra points made (849) and attempts (859) and set a league mark for consecutive games scoring (360).
Despite being dumped unceremoniously by the Saints organization on the eve of training camp in 1995, New Orleans still holds a special place in his heart.
"One of the reasons that my relationship was great with New Orleanians was that I immersed myself in the culture there and the city, and I became a New Orleanian," Andersen once said. "Even though I'm still a Danish citizen, I became part of the fabric of the city and I got involved in community service. I was a visible Saint."
Story submitted by Brian Allee-Walsh of the Greater New Orleans Sports Selection Committee.