Sports are about stories, and Morten Andersen, who was recently elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, shared a great one Thursday on CBS Sports Radio.
“One word comes to mind when I think about my journey, and it’s ‘will,’” the 56-year-old former kicker began on Gio and Jones. “A lot of people who know me and who know about me do not know that at the end of 2004, when I left the Vikings and I was 44 years old, I’m thinking I’m going to get a job right away. But I did not have a job for 20 months. I was out of the league for almost two years before I made a comeback back into the league, and I’m in a public park for 20 months. Now I didn’t know it was going to be 20 months, but that’s what it ended up being. I was there four days a week, grinding. I was 76 points away from becoming the all-time leading scorer in the history of the game, and I said, ‘Man, this is important. I may not get it. I may not get there. But if I’m not ready and the phone does ring, I’m going to be really (mad), and it’s going to be a huge disappointment.’”
So Andersen kept grinding, as 2004 turned into 2005, and 2005 turned into 2006.
“Jim Mora Jr. was the coach for the Atlanta Falcons, and I was at one of his golf tournaments,” Andersen said. “I was on the first green, and I had about a six-foot putt and he’s watching me. Before I putted it, I said, ‘Hey, Jim, when I make this putt, make sure I’m on the short list when your young kicker doesn’t get it done.’ He goes, ‘I’ve seen you putt. Go ahead.’ I drain the putt. I wink at him and I said, ‘Don’t forget.’ Three weeks later, their young kicker does not get it done. He missed four field goals inside 40 yards. I’m sitting in my basement with my neighbor, we’re having a couple of pops, and I go, ‘I’m switching to Gatorade and water because the phone’s going to ring in about 20 minutes.’ He goes, ‘Yeah, whatever, man.’”
A few minutes later, the phone rang. It was the Falcons: Can you come in tomorrow morning for a workout at 9 o’clock?
“I said, ‘How about 1 o’clock?’” Andersen recalled, laughing. “I get in there at 1 o’clock, and I think it’s just me for a workout. It wasn’t. It was four other guys. I call them flat-bellies. I’m 46 years old and now it’s 15 kicks against 23-year-olds right out of college. It’s mano a mano. It’s left hash, right hash, from 35 back to 55. In the middle of the net behind the goal post was on orange stripe. Fourteen out of 15 kicks that I made hit the orange stripe. The 15th kind of grazed it. I was feeling pretty good about myself, and I could see the flat-bellies were kind of dejected, hanging their heads. And I turned around and the head coach was standing there and Arthur Blank and so forth, and I threw my arm up and go, ‘Questions?’ The special teams coach goes, ‘Yeah, I have one question: black or blue ink?’”
Andersen signed with Atlanta.
“Two months later, I broke the record against the Cowboys, became the all-time leading scorer, handed the jersey to my oldest son, game is stopped, and I kind of in retrospect was thinking, ‘You know what? Twenty months in the public park doesn’t sound so bad right now,’” Andersen said. “And without that record, guys, I’m probably not talking to you as a Hall of Famer.”