Gary Anderson (placekicker)

This article is about the placekicker. For other people of the same name, see Gary Anderson (disambiguation).
Gary Anderson
No. 1
Position: Placekicker
Personal information
Date of birth: (1959-07-16) 16 July 1959
Place of birth: Parys, Orange Free State, South Africa
Career information
College: Syracuse
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 attempted: 672
Field goals made: 538
Field goal percentage: 80.1
Points scored: 2,434
Player stats at

Gary Allan Anderson (born 16 July 1959) is a former National Football League (NFL) placekicker. The first South African to appear in a 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, but is also known for tenure with the Minnesota Vikings.

As a member of the Vikings in 1998, Anderson became the first NFL kicker to have a perfect regular season, successfully making every field goal and point after touchdown during regular season play. However, Anderson's accomplishment was overshadowed by a missed field goal in that year's NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons, which is regarded as a primary factor in the Vikings' subsequent defeat. Nevertheless, Anderson continued to play in the NFL for six more seasons before retiring.

Early life

Anderson was born in Parys, South Africa and grew up in Durban. His father, the Reverend Douglas Anderson, played professional soccer in England.[1] 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.[2]

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 personal friend of Dick Vermeil watched Anderson and arranged a tryout with the Philadelphia Eagles the next day.[3] Anderson was just 18 having just graduated high school, so after the tryout there were University scouts present, all four scouts 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.[4]

Professional career

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 a playoff 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 2 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.

Career regular season statistics

NFL records

Single season


Monday Night

Streaks and miscellaneous


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. Also, in June 2004, Anderson and his wife, Kay, and sons Austin and Douglas moved to the Canadian Rocky Mountains in 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. Anderson's son Austin, began his University career the Fall of 2008 as a Freshman at the McGill University in Montreal, Quebec and remained 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 to: make a positive difference in the lives of Bow Valley School Athletes, primarily through providing financial support, to assist them to become Leaders, Valuing Teamwork, and Achieving Athletic and Academic Excellence. Anderson also gives back by coaching 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


Preceded by
George Blanda
Career NFL points record holder

Succeeded by
Morten Andersen
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