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Raiders K Sebastian Janikowski Shows No Signs of Slowing Down

Posted Sep 28, 2016

Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski broke yet another record this past Sunday as the Raiders defeated the Tennessee Titans in Nashville.

These images were posted to Raiders.com during kicker Sebastian Janikowski's rookie campaign in 2000, and include his first training camp and his first field goal of 50 or more - a 54-yarder against San Diego.

When Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders selected Florida State kicker Sebastian Janikowski with the 17th overall selection in the 2000 NFL Draft, the choice created shockwaves throughout the league. Yes, the two-time Lou Groza Award-winner and first team All-America selection entered the NFL with a dark legal cloud hanging over his trademark bald head, but the Raiders felt they had done their due diligence and that the risk would be worth the reward.

Mike Freeman of the New York Times wrote:

“And by far the most surprising selection of the day -- and maybe of the last five drafts -- was the Oakland Raiders' picking Florida State kicker/punter Sebastian Janikowski at 17.”

Vito Stellino of The Baltimore Sun wrote:

The Brown-Arrington selections started the trend of the teams picking the players they were predicted to take.

All that suddenly changed when the Raiders went on the clock. Their selection of Janikowski caused the first gasp in the draft room.

Even though Janikowski is rated one of the best kickers to come out of college in recent years, NFL teams usually don't go for kickers on the first round.

It was the first time a kicker has been drafted [in] the first round since Steve Little and Russell Erxleben were selected by St. Louis and New Orleans in the 1978 and 1979 drafts.

‘We did a lot of research on this young man,’ Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. ‘We feel we have an environment with our players and our coaching staff for this young man to flourish.’"

The following appeared in the Santa Cruz Sentinel:

“Regardless of the remaining picks, Janikowski's selection raised some eyebrows throughout the NFL, not only because he was the first kicker chosen in the first round since 1979 but because of his carefree reputation.”

Only two kickers had ever been taken in the first round of the NFL Draft (Steve Little in 1978 and Russell Erxleben in 1979), and both had flamed out. The Raiders had waded through a malaise of kickers with Greg Davis, Cole Ford, Michael Husted, and Joe Nedney all trying to live up to Chris Bahr and Jeff Jaeger’s collective legacy. 

Kicker Sebastian Janikowski celebrates tying the then-record for the longest field goal in NFL history, a 63-yarder against Denver in 2011.

High Expectations for a Powerful Leg

Leg strength for the physically imposing 250-pounder was an obvious asset – 14 touchbacks in his rookie season confirmed that - and many believed Janikowski would best Tom Dempsey’s NFL record 63-yard field goal many times over. Unfortunately, in this case, circumstance dictates long-distance kicking opportunities (an ill-advised 76-yard attempt notwithstanding), not the desire to etch someone’s name in a record book. He went 1-for-4 on attempts of 50 yards or more during his rookie campaign, connecting on a 54-yarder in a game where he would make all five of his attempts in a 15-13 win over the Chargers in San Diego on ESPN’s Sunday Night Football.

Janikowski would connect on just 7-of-16 field goal attempts from 50 in his first six seasons. From 2006 on, the attempts from that distance increased exponentially. In 2009, he made an astounding 6-of-8 attempts from 50 (75 percent), in 2011 he hit 7-of-10, and in 2015 he converted 4-of-5 attempts from that range. And it was in 2011, that he was finally able to tie Dempsey’s then-record for the longest field goal in NFL history. His 63-yarder on ESPN’s Monday Night Football was the eventual margin of victory in a 23-20 opening weekend win over the Broncos in Denver.

It was also believed that Janikowski would be the difference in winning many games when it came down to a last gasp. He has certainly made more game-winning kicks than he has missed. Again, circumstances dictate these opportunities as well. “Seabass” has connected on 14 game-winners, six in overtime, during his career, including the OT boot that gave the Raiders a win in Charles Woodson’s last home game – a Christmas Eve tilt with the Chargers last season.

During the past 16 years, Janikowski has rewritten the Raiders record books when it comes to kicking, scoring, and number of games played.

In the past three weeks, Janikowski has added two more entries to the ledger, a team mark, and an NFL record. When the native of Poland took the field at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 of this season, it marked the start of his 17th campaign, the most in Raiders history. 

And just this past Sunday, Janikowski has now kicked more field goals of 50 yards or more than anyone else in NFL history. He drilled a 52-yarder in the 2nd quarter of a 17-10 win over the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

"It feels good but the most important thing is winning the game, that's what matters, records are meant to be broken, it's just another record," Janikowski said. "Records are going to come, the team plays good, defense, offense, the records are going to always come. I feel good, I feel so good, I'm watching how much I'm kicking with [special teams coordinator Brad] Seely. He puts me in various situations during practice, I feel great."   

Players with the most field goals of 50 in NFL history:

53: Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland, 2000-2016
52: Jason Hanson, Detroit, 1992-2012
42: John Kasay, Seattle, 1991-94; Carolina, 1995-99, 2001-2010; New Orleans, 2011
40: Morten Andersen, New Orleans, 1982-1994; Atlanta, 1995-2000; N.Y. Giants, 2001; Kansas City, 2002-03; Minnesota, 2004; Atlanta, 2006-07

Entering the 2008 season, Janikowski had racked up 808 points and needed just 56 points to pass Hall of Famer George Blanda (863) as the all-time leading scorer in Raiders history. His 45-yard field goal on Sunday, Nov. 9, 2008, against the Carolina Panthers in Oakland gave him 57 points for the season and 865 for his career. He has scored a total of 1,691 points – a team record that may never be broken.

Janikowski’s franchise and NFL marks are numerous. In 2008, he set an NFL record for the longest field goal to win a game in overtime – a 57-yarder to defeat Hall of Famer Brett Favre and the New York Jets 16-13 in Oakland. He has kicked the second-longest field goal in NFL history. He has played in more games than anyone else in Raiders history (255 and counting). He has led the team in scoring for 16 straight seasons. He has scored more points in a season than anyone else in franchise history (142 in 2010), and he has made more field goals in one game than anyone else in team history (6 vs. Chicago 2011). The list goes on like the original scroll of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road.   

Janikowski is ranked 14th all-time in scoring in NFL history, and is currently second among active players, behind Adam Vinatieri of the Indianapolis Colts (2,278 points, 1996-present). Morten Andersen is the NFL’s all-time leading scorer with 2,544 points.

Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of the mercurial kicker’s career that has gone undocumented is the number and type of stadiums in which he has played. His career has spanned 17 seasons and numerous buildings and venues have come and gone during that time. From temporary homes on college campuses, to older, iconic stadiums that were eventually replaced, Janikowski has played in numerous stadiums during his career.

The following list includes preseason, regular season and playoffs (current stadium names used):

RCA Dome and Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis Colts
QUALCOMM Stadium – San Diego Chargers
Sports Authority Field at Mile High – Denver Broncos
Candlestick Park – San Francisco 49ers
Arrowhead Stadium – Kansas City Chiefs
Husky Stadium and CenturyLink Field – Seattle Seahawks
Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans Saints
Georgia Dome – Atlanta Falcons
Three Rivers Stadium and Heinz Field – Pittsburgh Steelers
Foxboro Stadium and Gillette Stadium – New England Patriots
Hard Rock Stadium – Miami Dolphins
Edward Jones Dome – St. Louis Rams
Texas Stadium and AT&T Stadium – Dallas Cowboys
Sun Devil Stadium and University of Phoenix Stadium – Arizona Cardinals
Veteran’s Stadium and Lincoln Financial Field – Philadelphia Eagles
Nissan Stadium – Tennessee Titans
Ralph Wilson Stadium - Buffalo Bills
Raymond James Stadium – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
FedEx Field – Washington Redskins
Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome and TCF Bank Stadium – Minnesota Vikings
M&T Bank Stadium – Baltimore Ravens
Soldier Field – Chicago Bears
Lambeau Field – Green Bay Packers
Giants Stadium and MetLife Stadium – New York Jets and New York Giants
FirstEnergy Stadium – Cleveland Browns
Ford Field – Detroit Lions
NRG Stadium – Houston Texans
Everbank Field – Jacksonville Jaguars
Bank of America Stadium – Carolina Panthers
Paul Brown Stadium – Cincinnati Bengals
Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium – Pro Football Hall of Fame, Canton, Ohio (2006 preseason Hall of Fame game vs. Philadelphia)
Estadio Azteca, Mexico City (2001 preseason vs. Dallas)
Aloha Stadium – 2012 Pro Bowl
Wembley Stadium, London, England (2014 regular season vs. Miami)

In all, counting the Oakland Alameda-County Coliseum, Janikowski has kicked in 44 different stadiums and every weather condition Mother Nature has to offer during his professional career. In regular season play alone he has converted 388-of-484 field goal attempts, and 527-of-531 extra point attempts for 1,691 points.

The records continue to fall and Janikowski doesn’t seem to be slowing down one bit.