When the Raiders host the Broncos October 11, K Sebastian Janikowski (barring injury) will have played in more games than anyone else in Raiders history.
When the Oakland Raiders selected kicker Sebastian Janikowski in the first round of the 2000 NFL Draft, that pick sent shockwaves through the Draft "experts." But the rogues' gallery of kickers that came through Oakland after Jeff Jaeger that included Cole Ford, Michael Husted, and Greg Davis, begged the question, "why not?"
An exclusive look at the 17-year long record breaking career of one of the greatest players to ever wear the Silver and Black, Sebastian Janikowski.
When I first saw the two-time Lou Groza Award-winner in person, I thought, "this is a kicker?" Listed at 6'1", 258 pounds, "Seabass" strikes an imposing figure. He is quiet most of the time. He doesn't talk to the media very often. You'd never know that he is fun-loving and that he has a great sense of humor. The thunderous sound of his foot striking the ball does most of the talking for him.
In 15 years, Janikowski has become the Raiders all-time leading scorer, kicked the second-longest field goal in NFL history, has led the team in scoring every year he has been in the NFL, has kicked 13 game-winning field goals, has kicked 48 field goals of 50-or-more yards (second in NFL history), and holds the team record for most field goals kicked in a game (six). This is just the short list.
If he stays healthy, as of Week 5, October 11, Janikowski will have played in more regular season games than anyone else in Raiders history. "It's not going to hit me until the season starts, when the season starts and you're actually going to get to that point it's pretty special," Janikowski said. "It's pretty amazing."
When his career is over, Janikowski will hold many team records and will be at or near the top in many NFL categories.
"It means a lot, it means I'm doing something right, helping the team win games hopefully," said Janikowski. "That's a special thing."
The one elusive record, the one most people thought Janikowski would break and hold forever is for longest field goal in NFL history. He tied the record in 2011 with a 63-yarder in Denver. The record has since been broken and set at 64 yards.
"The timing's got to be right. It's not going to be in the first quarter. It's got to be at the end of the half or the end of the game. I want to. That's something I look forward to," Janikowski said. "The opportunity's got to be right. You don't see that many 60-yarders in a year."
He would trade it all for a Super Bowl Championship.
"Winning is more important than records to me," Janikowski said. "The ultimate goal is always the Super Bowl. You can take all the records away if I get a ring. I wouldn't care. On the other hand, you always look at the stats, you want all the records [laughs]."
Perhaps one of the most shocking things about Janikowski's career is that he has only played in one Pro Bowl. "It was great, I had a great time, hanging out with different guys, meeting different people. It's fun, need to get back there," Janikowski said.
"Winning is more important than records to me. The ultimate goal is always the Super Bowl. You can take all the records away if I get a ring." - Kicker Sebastian Janikowski
Entering his 16th season with the Raiders, Janikowski is optimistic that the franchise is headed in the right direction. With new Special Teams Coordinator Brad Seely, Janikowski is looking forward to the upcoming campaign.
"I love [Seely], he's a demanding guy, I think he's going to help us win a bunch of games," Janikowski said. "You look at his career, his stats show that he's a great coach."
The respect is mutual as Janikowski was a full participant in this year's voluntary off-season program.
"I really like Sebastian and he's been great since I've been here," Seely said. "I've known him from a distance…The guy is so talented and he's got such a leg, and he's been good for a long time. It's exciting to work with a guy like that."
One of the aspects of playing on the Raiders special teams is the supporting cast. Janikowski has worked with Pro Bowl long snapper Jon Condo since 2007.
"I know he's had a long and great career here for the Silver and Black, no other person I'd rather be snapping the ball to than this guy. Great teammate, great friend, great person. He's still young as a kicker. He still has some years left," Condo said. "He cares. [Head] Coach [Jack] Del Rio came in, coach wanted him here, it's important to him. He's just being a pro. He has a wife and kids, he could be in Florida. He wants to be the best kicker out there."
Condo has snapped for many of Janikowski's game-altering or record-setting kicks. He would be honored and happy for Janikowski to be part of any records.
"I'd be most happy for him. I'd take pride in it, but I'd be more happy for him because it's his accomplishment, I'm doing my job," Condo said. "He's be the first one to tell you, 'it's our record, we're a unit.' But I'd be most happy for him."
It's rare in today's day and age of free agency and "what have you done for me lately?" climate in professional sports for a player to spend their entire career (of any length) with one team, let alone the team that drafted them. Janikowski may be one of the exceptions to this, but he wouldn't have it any other way.
Janikowski said, "Somebody asked me, 'would you like to retire as a Raider?' I was like, 'of course.' I don't want to go anywhere else. The future is bright."