Kicker returns to his first NFL home
Andersen played in New Orleans for 13 years
By Mary Foster
NEW ORLEANS -- Morten Andersen knows he'll feel it all over again when he walks into the Louisiana Superdome on Sunday night.
When the Minnesota Vikings run out onto the field to play the New Orleans Saints, Andersen, now the Vikings kicker, knows just what to expect. The throat gets tight, the heart beats a little faster, the emotions surge. For Andersen, the first NFL home is a little like the first love -- something that you never quite get over.
"It's always fun to come back to where it first started," said Andersen. "I love the fans there, the city. It's a very special place for me."
Andersen played the first 13 seasons of his 23-year career in New Orleans. He went to the Pro Bowl six times while with the Saints and is still the leading scorer with 1,318 points, and played more games with New Orleans (196) than anyone.
Andersen left the Saints when the team declared him a descending player and said a kicker was not worth the $1 million salary he was getting. He was signed immediately by the Atlanta Falcons and helped them get to the 1998 Super Bowl.
"It bothered me a lot," Andersen said. "It also motivated me. I've always been a motivated person, but that made me even more so."
No hard feelings
Andersen had a big hand in beating the Saints twice that year, kicking three 50-yard field goals to beat them in Atlanta and four field goals, including one in overtime, to beat them in New Orleans.
"I had no bad feelings for the fans or the city," Andersen said. "I just wanted to refute the things that had been said about me. I was not a declining player."
Now 44, Andersen, who was cut by Kansas City in the preseason, still feels he is not a declining player -- even though two of his current Vikings teammates were not born when he entered the NFL.
"He's still very, very much a consummate professional," said Vikings coach Mike Tice, who's brother John was Andersen's roommate with the Saints. "He charts every single kick attempt in practice. He films every kick from two angles that he attempts in practiced."
Although Andersen has told him he can still kick 50-yarders, Tice said he is very comfortable with anything up to 44 yards. And if Andersen has lost distance through the years, he has not lost accuracy. "He's a machine," Tice said. "He's hitting the ball real well right now, too, better than three weeks ago"
No hard feelings
The Saints (2-3) have Andersen on the list of things they have to handle if they are to beat the Vikings (3-1).
"I knew him back when," said Saints special teams coach Al Everest. "My dad was with the Saints when they drafted him. So I've known him a long time and I know he's a pro and he does what he needs to take care of his body. And I know that he's a good kicker."
Even John Carney, the Saints' 40-year-old kicker, acknowledges he'll be paying extra attention when Andersen is on the field Sunday night.
"Morten is one of the greatest," Carney said.