the study of the kicking components within sports

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Is the Hall of Fame Special Enough? (part 2)

Yesterday we looked at the first batch of responses to the following question:
Kicker Jan Stenerud is the only pure specialist in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In your opinion, who should join him?
Following are more specialist responses:

"Special teamers that are Hall worthy: Ray Guy, Steve Tasker, Morten Andersen, and Adam Vinatieri when he retires."

Brandon Kornblue, 
Kornblue Kicking
"Gary Anderson, Morten Andersen, Adam Vinatieri and Ray Guy are the most obvious. With over 250 members of the Hall of Fame and only a few kickers and zero punters elected, it shows an unjust lack of respect for the specialist positions. Anderson and Andersen are the league's career leaders in multiple categories, Vinatieri is the most clutch performer, and Guy is the consensus best all-time punter."

"Morten Andersen as a Saint, Nick Lowery as a Chief, Adam Vinatieri as a Patriot.
Ray Guy as a Raider, Sean Landetta as a Giant, and Jeff Feagles as an Eagle."

John Matich, The Kicking System
"I would admit Gary Anderson, Ray Guy and Adam Vinatieri. I had the opportunity to kick with Gary when I was with the Vikings back in 2001. With kickers nowadays everything seems to rely on pure power, how far and how high can you kick. I remember one day when Gary was perfect in practice, and when I say perfect, his ball was right down the middle every time,  inside 50 yards.  He hit one from 49 yards and it hit the bar and went over. The man was a kicking machine! He didn’t need power. Granted everyone will remember him missing in the 1998 playoffs and costing the Vikings a chance at the Super Bowl -- he almost had a perfect season (35 field goals). To be able to even come close to that is ridiculous. He has my vote."

Mike Hollis, ProForm Kicking
"John Carney!"

"Ray Guy. if they have room for owners and coaches, they should have room for some specialists."

James Wilhoit, James Wilhoit Kicking
"I think that at this point Gary Anderson, Morten Anderson, and Ray Guy would have to be the front runners for the Hall of Fame. In the next few years Jason Elam, Matt Stover, and Jason Hanson will all be viable candidates."

"I believe a strong case could be made for Pete Gogolak to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Gogolak was a pioneer as the first professional soccer-style kicker. He starred for two years with the Buffalo Bills, coming out of Cornell University. He also was instrumental in the eventual merger of the AFL and NFL. After scoring 102 points for the Bills in 1964 and 115 points in '65, Gogolak was signed following an acrimonious negotiation by the NFL's New York Giants, where he would go on to become the team's all-time leading scorer with 646 points. He also boomed a 54-yarder for the Giants in 1970. While his 11-year career stats (126 of 219 FGs) do not rank among those of many modern-day kickers, it should be considered that rules changes, field conditions, game strategies and other factors were much different when he performed.

The hash marks, for instance, were wider in the '60s, making even short attempts more adventuresome because of the angles. The width of the hash marks in the NFL now is 18 feet, 6 inches, the same width as the goal posts. Back in the '60s, the width between the hash marks was 40 feet. There were no artificial surfaces to kick off the ground, and many NFL teams shared stadiums with baseball teams, leaving dirt infields and pitching mound areas to navigate around. There were no players devoted strictly to long-snapping, and special teams coaches were non-existent.

Many conventional, straight-on kickers in the '60s (including yours truly) questioned whether the soccer-style technique would last because of the relative low trajectory of the kicks. Now, of course, virtually all kickers from high school through the pros use the soccer-style approach. And many more American-born youngsters grow up playing the game of soccer.

Pete Gogolak, and his younger brother Charlie Gogolak, who kicked for six years in the NFL out of Princeton, proved a lot of people wrong and started a trend that has changed the game of football."

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