Kicker Sebastian Janikowski
Over the past 16 seasons, kicker Sebastian Janikowski has become a fan favorite in Silver and Black.
With his cannon for a leg and his penchant for the dramatic, the Polish kicker has become synonymous with the Oakland Raiders since he was selected in the first round (No. 17 overall) of the 2000 NFL Draft.
While his selection raised some eyebrows at the time, Janikowski has more than lived up to the billing as a first-round draft pick, appearing in 252 games for the Silver and Black – the most by any player in franchise history – and tallying a franchise-best 1,675 career points in the process.
However, the road wasn't always smooth for Janikowski; according to a recent profile done by Don Banks of Sports Illustrated, the former Florida State Seminole's career nearly ended prematurely before he got the chance to become a favorite of both fans and teammates.
"With that gaudy first-round target on his back, Janikowski was supposed to come in and immediately shore up Oakland's bedeviled kicking game, which in 1999 saw free-agent signee Michael Husted struggle mightily before being released after 13 games," wrote Banks. "But the pressure of kicking in the NFL nearly broke Janikowski, a two-time All-America selection at Florida State. He was just 22 of 32 in field goals that season (68.8%), and struggles with injuries (a case of cellulitis cost him two games) and his shaky transition to the longer pro season made his debut an endurance test he nearly flunked. He missed seven of his first 13 field goal tries in 2000."
Throughout the profile, Banks goes on to chronicle Janikowski's journey through the NFL, speaking with several current and former teammates about the man affectionately known as "Seabass," and discussing how long the Polish national plans on kicking.
"I have always believed I have the potential to kick as long as I want to kick," Janikowski told Banks. "I still feel good, and I still love running out there on the field and being under pressure, hearing the fans. Whether they're booing you or screaming for you, I just love it."
You can read Banks' full profile, here.