Best kickers in NFL history

NFL placekickers are some of least respected athletes in all of American sports; that is, until the game is resting on their golden feet. Kickers can make or break a team's Super Bowl dream. Just ask Adam Vinatieri(notes) and Scott Norwood. The five kickers listed below are some of the most clutch players in NFL history. They also happen to be some of the most well-known players the football world has ever known.

Best kickers in NFL history #5: Lou Groza

How great of a kicker was Lou Groza? The yearly award given to the top college placekicker is called the Lou Groza Award and his nickname was "The Toe." A member of the 1974 Pro Football Hall of Fame class, Groza played in nine Pro Bowls, was a First-Team All-Pro on four occasions and is a member of the NFL 1950s All-Decade Team. He was the Sporting News' NFL Player of the Year in 1954 and his last second field goal in the 1950 NFL Championship Game clinched the title for the Cleveland Browns, the only team Groza ever played for during his 21 year career.

Best kickers in NFL history #4: Adam Vinatieri

Vinatieri is unquestionably one of the most clutch players in NFL history. A member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, he is the currently the only player in history to "win" two Super Bowls on the game's deciding play. His two field goals (game tying and game winning) in the Raiders-Patriots "Snow Bowl" are arguably the greatest kicks in the history of the game. If there was ever a situation where one field goal would save or cost you your life in some sick, twisted bet, you'd be a fool to not pick Vinatieri for the kick.

Best kickers in NFL history #3: Jan Stenerud

Stenerud was not as clutch as "Automatic Adam" during his 19 year football career, but the Norwegian certainly was consistent. He never missed a football game due to injury/illness and was second in total points (behind George Blanda) when he retired after the 1985 season. Stenerud played in six Pro Bowls during his career, and he made history in 1991 when he became the first "pure" placekicker (kicker who didn't play any other position) to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Best kickers in NFL history #2: Gary Anderson

Anderson's name is found all over NFL record books. He is a member of the NFL 1980s and 1990s Team of the Decade rosters and was a four-time Pro Bowler. In 1998, Anderson made history by becoming the first placekicker to complete the "perfect season" (no missed field goals or extra points during the regular season). When Anderson left the game in 2004, his 2,434 total points and 538 field goals were the most in NFL history. He has since been passed, however, by the number one kicker on this list.

Best kickers in NFL history #1: Morten Andersen

Andersen's greatness spawned one of my favorite Facebook groups ever created. That group is not why he's at the top of this list. Andersen is the NFL's all-time leader in total points scored (2544), career games played (382), total field goals attempted (709) and field goals made (565). He's also second all-time in extra point attempted and converted, and was named to seven Pro Bowl rosters. The ageless Andersen played an incredible 25 years in the NFL, and could probably still drain a 40 yard field goal.

*Note: This article was written by an Associated Content Contributor. To become a Contributor and start publishing your own sports articles, go to Associated Content.

References: http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PLAYER_ID=83

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/V/vinatada01.htm

http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PLAYER_ID=203

http://garyandersonperfectseason.com/nflcareer.html

http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/A/andermor01.htm

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Updated Monday, Sep 27, 2010