Gary Anderson (placekicker)

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Gary Anderson
No. 1
Personal information
Born: (1959-07-16) 16 July 1959 (age 61)
Parys, Orange Free State, South Africa
Career information
NFL Draft:1982 / Round: 7 / Pick: 171
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Field goals:538/672 (80.1%)
Extra points:820/827 (99.2%)
Points scored:2,434
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Gary Allan Anderson (born 16 July 1959) is a former National Football League (NFL) placekicker. The first South African to appear in an NFL regular season game, Anderson played in the league for 23 seasons with six teams. He spent the majority of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers and is also known for his tenure with the Minnesota Vikings. A four-time Pro Bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro, Anderson set several records during his two decades in the league and was named to the NFL's All-Decade teams of the 1980s and 1990s, as well as the Steelers All-Time Team.

As a member of the Vikings in 1998, Anderson became the first NFL kicker to successfully convert every field goal and point after touchdown during regular season play. During the postseason, however, he missed a critical field goal in the 1998 NFC Championship Game, which is regarded as a primary factor in the Vikings' subsequent defeat.[1] Anderson continued to play in the NFL for six more seasons before retiring. At the time of his retirement, Anderson held the NFL records for points scored and field goals made. He ranks third in games played (353), third in points scored (2,434), and third in field goals made (538) and is also the Steelers' all-time leading scorer at 1,343.

Early life[edit]

Anderson was born in Parys, South Africa and grew up in Durban. His father, the Reverend Douglas Anderson, played professional soccer in England.[2] His mother was South African. Shortly after Gary graduated from high school at Brettonwood High, Reverend Anderson left South Africa and moved his family to the United States.[3]

Anderson had hoped to follow in his father's footsteps and become a professional soccer player in Europe. On his third day after immigrating to the United States, Anderson had been given a few American footballs to kick. He went to a local high school football field in Downingtown, Pennsylvania to see what kicking this type of ball was like. Anderson grew up playing rugby and was drop kicking them from the 50-yard line. A high school football coach and friend of Dick Vermeil watched Anderson and arranged a tryout with the Philadelphia Eagles the next day.[4] Anderson was aged only 18, having just graduated high school, so at the tryout there were university scouts present, all four of whom offered scholarships to Anderson on the spot. Anderson chose Syracuse after they promised him that he would also be able to play on the school's soccer team. He played for the Syracuse soccer team in 1978 and 1979, scoring nineteen goals, before devoting himself to football his junior and senior seasons.[5]

Professional career[edit]

After graduating from Syracuse University, he was drafted as a placekicker by the Buffalo Bills in the 1982 NFL Draft but was cut before the season began. He then, within a few days, signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Steelers and spent the following 12 seasons in Pittsburgh. For the 1995 and 1996 seasons, Anderson signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles. He then spent the 1997 season as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

He also had the distinction of wearing a one-bar facemask throughout his career, even though the NFL outlawed their use prior to his final season in 2004 – he, along with Arizona Cardinals punter Scott Player, were afforded a grandfather clause.

In 1998, Anderson signed with the Minnesota Vikings and converted all 35 of his attempted field goals and all 59 extra points in regular season play, becoming the first placekicker to finish the regular season with a 100% success rate on both field goals and extra points. His only miss of the season came in the 1998 NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons ending up winning the game in overtime sending them to Super Bowl XXXIII. Anderson played for the Vikings until 2002. In 2000 while with the Vikings, Anderson surpassed the legendary George Blanda to become the NFL's All-Time Leading Scorer and held the record upon his retirement from the NFL in 2004. Anderson played his final two seasons with the Tennessee Titans in the 2003 and 2004 seasons. Anderson played 23 years in the NFL; only Morten Andersen and George Blanda have had longer playing tenures. Although not officially retired, Anderson's number 1 has also not been reissued by Steelers since his departure from the team.

There are a number of interesting coincidences between Anderson and Morten Andersen, another retired star placekicker. Anderson and Andersen have nearly identical last names, were born within a year of one another outside the United States (Andersen was born in Denmark), came to the United States as teenagers, had long and successful NFL careers throughout the 1980s and 1990s, and hold first or second place in a number of NFL records for scoring, field goals, and longevity. Their overall accuracy is also nearly identical; their career percentage being within .5% of each other on both FGs and PATs. In the 1998 NFC Championship Game, Anderson missed a field goal for the Minnesota Vikings before Andersen successfully converted his winning kick for the Atlanta Falcons, both from the same distance as well (38 yards). On 16 December 2006, Andersen passed Anderson to become the all-time leading scorer in NFL history. The following weekend, 24 December 2006, Andersen again passed Anderson to become the NFL's career leader in field goals made.[6]

Career regular season statistics[edit]

NFL records[edit]

Single season[edit]

  • Held record for Points in a single season with no touchdowns scored: 1998 (164 points, 59 PATs, 35 FGs)[7](broken by David Akers in 2011)
  • Field Goal Percentage: 1998 (100%, 35/35)[8]


  • Points: 2nd place, 2,434[9] Held record from 2000 (passing George Blanda) until 2006 (passed by Morten Andersen).
  • FG made: 2nd place, 538.[10]
  • Extra points made: 3rd place, 820.[11]
  • Games: 2nd place, 353.[12]
  • Points as a Pittsburgh Steeler: 1,343[13]


Anderson stayed with the Vikings until the 2002 season, then he joined the Tennessee Titans as a replacement for the injured Joe Nedney. Anderson connected on 27 of 31 field goal attempts in the regular season despite rotating periodically with punter Craig Hentrich, who booted four of five FGAs. In Tennessee's playoff win over Baltimore Anderson connected on the winning 46-yard field goal in the final seconds, while in Tennessee's playoff loss to New England he missed on his one attempt.

After that season, Anderson was making plans to retire and turned down offers from several teams to come kick for them. In June 2004, Anderson, his wife, Kay, and sons Austin and Douglas moved to the Canadian Rocky Mountain town of Canmore, Alberta, Canada, just outside Banff National Park. When Nedney went down with another season-ending injury after the start of the 2004 season, Anderson again agreed to kick for the Titans, commuting from Canada each week. At the time of his retirement, Anderson was the last active player in the NFL to have played under former Steelers head coach Chuck Noll and the last remaining NFL player born in the 1950s. Anderson's son Austin began his university career in the fall of 2008 as a freshman at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, becoming the starting placekicker for the McGill Redmen football team until his graduation in April 2012.

Gary, and his wife, Kay, give back to their community by hosting an annual charity fundraiser called, "Dreams for Teams" in Canmore, Alberta with the mission of making a positive difference in the lives of Bow Valley school athletes, primarily through providing financial support, to assist them in becoming leaders, valuing teamwork, and achieving athletic and academic excellence. Anderson also coaches the local boys high school soccer team in Canmore. Anderson is passionate about fly fishing, and is a spokesman for the fly fishing industry.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Twenty years after miss, former Vikings kicker Gary Anderson at peace in Canadian Rockies". Twin Cities. 4 September 2018. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  2. ^ Steyn, Pierre (25 October 2000). "SA boytjie in the US". News24. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  3. ^ Bonorchis, Renée (18 April 2007). "Happy to Kick a Funny-Shaped Ball for a Living". Business Day. South Africa. Archived from the original on 9 May 2007.
  4. ^ Jensen, Sean (24 October 2004). "Two of a kind". St. Paul Pioneer Press. Archived from the original on 29 November 2004.
  5. ^ "Syracuse University Athletics – Syracuse Men's Soccer All-Time Letterwinners".
  6. ^ Ikic, Adnan (30 August 2018). "Throwback Thursday Series: A tale of two Andersons and one NFC Championship Game". The Falcoholic. Retrieved 12 June 2019.
  7. ^ "NFL Single-Season Points Scored Leaders -".
  8. ^ "NFL Single-Season Field Goal % Leaders -".
  9. ^ "NFL Career Points Scored Leaders -".
  10. ^ "NFL Career Total Field Goals Made Leaders -".
  11. ^ "NFL Career Extra Points Made Leaders -".
  12. ^ "NFL Career Games Leaders -".
  13. ^ Bouchette, Ed (29 December 2008). "Steelers Notebook: Pass-happy Hines Ward makes his 800th catch". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Quick hits. Retrieved 29 December 2008.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
George Blanda
Career NFL points record holder

Succeeded by
Morten Andersen