Morten "The Great Dane" Andersen, the NFL's all-time leading scorer, who kicked for the New Orleans Saints from 1982-1994, was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame yesterday.
He made it a "Trifecta of Triumph" for the Saints this weekend, as two other Saints legends, Buford Jordan and Vaughan Johnson, were also honored by the Hall.
Make the jump to recall the career of Andersen as we complete this three-part series profiling the trio of Saints players in the 2011 induction class. Part I ran last Saturday. Part II ran yesterday.
Morten Andersen, who was born in Copenhagen, Denmark (hence the nickname), attended Michigan State University and was drafted by the Saints in the fourth round of the 1982 draft. He played in the NFL for 25 years, the first 13 of them with the Saints, and retired following the 2007 season, having made 565 of 709 field goals attempted (79.7%) and 849 of 859 extra points attempted (98.8%). His full career stats can be found here.
During his time with the Saints, he set the team record for games played (196), still holds the franchise scoring record, and holds many fans' admiration and heart-stopping gratitude for his clutch kicks from long-range that at times won games at the last minute, and also sometimes comprised the bulk of the team's scoring in games.
Fun fact: Andersen kicked for our BFFs, the Atlanta Falcons, for eight of the 12 post-Saints years he spent in the league. He also kicked for the New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, and Minnesota Vikings.
He went to six Pro Bowls as a Saint, and was named All-Pro twice in the Black and Gold. Check the bottom of the career stats link above for more on his numerous league honors.
Andersen, who is already a member of the Saints and Michigan State Halls of Fame, is sure to join the Pro Football Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible. (I wonder what the world record is for number of HOF memberships?)
James Varney posted this retrospective on Andersen's career on nola.com, which includes details on his charity work for Children's Hospital and quotes from those that know him.
Jim Mora, who coached him from 1986-1994, and was part of the brain trust that let him leave the team in free agency, praised his ability to perform in clutch situations:
"A lot of guys could kick 50-yard field goals in pregame warmup or during practice," Mora said. "But what really makes a good kicker, in my opinion, is somebody who could do it when the game was on the line. He goes in there with seconds left on the clock. You make it, we win, if not, we lose. Well, Morten was great under pressure. He's going to make most of those kicks. So when you send him in at the end of the game to win or lose for you, you had a pretty good feeling he was going to get the job done. And he definitely wanted to be in that spot. That's what made him, in my opinion, special."
Brian Landry, Children's Hospital vice president of marketing, saw Andersen as the real deal:
"Once Sports Illustrated was doing a story on Morten, and they were touring the hospital," Landry recalled. "We had a patient -- I think she had even been a beauty queen -- and she was very depressed. And when Morten saw her, he very politely told the crew following him that was it, the tour was over. 'I've got something I need to do,' he said. And he went in the room and shut the door, and that was that. He was in there talking to her for more than an hour."
Here's a link to Jill Lieber's 1987 Sports Illustrated story on Andersen, part of the "Athletes Who Care" issue.
Fun Fact II: In the 80's, Andersen and former Saints punter Brian Hansen put out a record, Take It to the Top, that sold 5,000 copies. Citation.
I remember how great it was to have him kicking for us, especially in light of Russell Erxleben, Benny Ricardo, and Toni Fritsch (some of the kickers who preceded Andersen). Andersen was good from long-range, clutch at the end of games, and he often bailed out many a stalled drive to give us just enough points for our defense to hold the other team under to get a win.
So Morten, thanks for the memories and congratulations on making the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.
Please take a moment to share your "Morten Memories" in the comment section below.
And if anyone dares to look up that beefcake poster Andersen did (it sold 16,000 copies!) and post the image, I'm sure that would be well received.