Sebastian Janikowski

Sebastian Janikowski

refer to caption

Janikowski in November 2008
No. 11Oakland Raiders
Position: Placekicker
Personal information
Date of birth: (1978-03-02) March 2, 1978
Place of birth: Wałbrzych, Poland
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight: 258 lb (117 kg)
Career information
High school: Daytona Beach (FL) Seabreeze
College: Florida State
NFL Draft: 2000 / Round: 1 / Pick: 17
Career history
Roster status: Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 12, 2016
Field goals: 405
Field goals attempts: 506
Field goal %: 80.0
Long field goal: 63
Touchbacks: 395
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR

Sebastian Janikowski (Polish pronunciation: [sɛˈbastjan janiˈkɔfskʲi]; born March 2, 1978) is a Polish-born American football placekicker for the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for Florida State University, and was a two-time consensus All-American. He is nicknamed The Polish Cannon and is considered to have one of the strongest kicking legs in league history.[1] On September 12, 2011 in a Monday Night Football game against the Denver Broncos, he tied the previous NFL record for the longest field goal at 63 yards, sharing the record with Tom Dempsey, Jason Elam and David Akers. The record stood for just over two years when it was broken by Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater on December 8, 2013. Janikowski also holds the record for most games played with the Raiders; as of Week 11 of the 2016 season, he has played 262 games with the team.

Early years

Sebastian Janikowski was born in 1978 as an only child to Henryk and Halina Janikowski in Wałbrzych, Poland. Sebastian's father was a professional soccer player, and moved to the United States in the early 1980s in the hopes of reviving his career. Years after Sebastian's father emigrated from Poland, his parents divorced and Henryk married an American citizen. Left at home with just his mother, Sebastian began to excel at soccer himself. In 1993, 15-year-old Sebastian earned a spot on the Polish under-17 team.

His father's marriage to an American meant that Sebastian could legally emigrate to the United States. He spoke very little English, but learned quickly by taking a three-week night class and by watching television. Janikowski played in only five games for the Orangewood Christian soccer team, but led them to the Class A State Championship game by scoring 15 goals, where they lost to Lakeland Christian in penalty kicks (3–2). Then living in Orlando, Florida with his father and stepmother, Sebastian joined the Orlando Lions, an under-19 soccer club coached by Angelo Rossi. Rossi was also the soccer coach at Seabreeze High School in Daytona Beach, and he convinced Henryk that his son would be better off there. Henryk agreed but was unwilling to move, so Sebastian moved in with Rossi's family.[2]

During his senior year at Seabreeze, Janikowski played both soccer and football after being recruited by the school's football coach. As the team's placekicker, he quickly earned a reputation by kicking four field goals of 50+ yards. One of them was for 60 yards, third-best in Florida prep school history. During a practice at Seabreeze High, he kicked an 82-yard field goal.[2] USA Today named Janikowski to its 1996 All-American team. After being heavily recruited by some of the top collegiate football programs, Janikowski decided on Florida State University.[2]

College career

Janikowski attended Florida State University, where he played for coach Bobby Bowden's Florida State Seminoles football team. In three seasons, he amassed a career scoring total of 324 points (3rd all-time for the school). In 1999 he won the Lou Groza Award, an honor given annually to the nation's top collegiate kicker, for the second year in a row, still the only player to do so. He became popular with fans for being able to placekick a kick-off through the endzone uprights, having done it so often that the stadium monitors would display field goal graphics even though it was a kick-off and not an actual field goal attempt.

Janikowski's career at FSU was not without incident. In August 1998, he got into a fight outside of a Tallahassee bar and was charged with failure to leave the premises; he pled no contest to the misdemeanor offense. That same year, the night after a season-ending win over rival Florida, Janikowski got into a fight at a local bar and was charged with battery.

In the 1999 season, FSU was again in contention for a national title. Prior to the team's appearance in the national championship game (the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana), Janikowski declared his intentions to declare himself eligible for the 2000 NFL Draft, saying his primary reason for foregoing his senior year was to pay for his mother to come to the United States.[3]

Bowden later said, "Boy, have you ever thought about (I have!) how many national championships we might have won if we had Janikowski every year of my career?"[4] Although Janikowski's skill as a kicker was unquestioned by NFL scouts, his off-the-field behavior was a cause of concern. In January 2000, Janikowski was partying with a group of friends when his high school friend was arrested at a nightclub. Janikowski, who later said he was thinking he could save everyone paperwork and the trouble, approached the arresting officer and asked how much it would take to let his friend go. He was then arrested for attempting to bribe an officer, a charge that carried a $5,000 fine, up to five years in prison, and possible deportation. Janikowski claimed that he thought he could pay a fine to have his friend released, but the officer interpreted the action as an attempted bribe.[5]

Professional career

Oakland Raiders

Janikowski was drafted by the Oakland Raiders with the 17th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft.[6] He was the fourth placekicker in NFL history to be taken in the first round of the draft.

Shortly after the draft, Janikowski was acquitted of his bribery charge. He had testified on his own behalf, stating that he was simply trying to pay his friend's fine (as opposed to bribing the arresting officer). Just eight days after his acquittal, Janikowski and two friends were arrested in Tallahassee on suspicion of felony possession of the drug GHB. Once again, he faced prison time or deportation if convicted, but was acquitted of all charges in April 2001.[7]

Janikowski and punter Shane Lechler in July 2007

Janikowski's professional career got off to a rough start: in 2000, only 68.8% of his field goal attempts were successful. His accuracy improved dramatically in 2001, when 82.1% of his attempts were successful.

Janikowski reached Super Bowl XXXVII with the Raiders in 2002, and kicked an early field goal. His kick briefly gave the Raiders a 3–0 lead over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This would be the Raiders' only lead of the game; they lost 48–21. As of 2016, Janikowski is the only remaining member of the Raiders to have also played on the team's 2002 Super Bowl roster.

Janikowski (right) and Lechler on the sidelines in 2008

Records and attempts

On November 4, 2007, Janikowski attempted to kick a 64-yard record field goal before halftime against the Houston Texans on a windless Oakland afternoon in McAfee Coliseum. It would have broken the all-time NFL field goal record of 63 yards. However, it bounced off the right upright and came back out.[8]

On September 28, Janikowski unsuccessfully attempted a 76-yard field goal against the San Diego Chargers into the heavy wind right before halftime. This is presumed to be the longest attempt in NFL history; though the league keeps no such records on attempts, the longest known attempts previous to this were 74 yard attempts by Mark Moseley and Joe Danelo in 1979.[9]

On October 19, 2008, Janikowski broke his own Raiders team record, making a 57-yard field goal in overtime to defeat the New York Jets, 16–13, the longest overtime field goal in NFL history. On December 27, 2009, he again broke his own team record by kicking a 61-yard field goal against the Cleveland Browns before halftime. On December 26, 2010, Janikowski converted a 59-yard field goal in the second quarter of a home game against the Indianapolis Colts[10] making him the second player with two 59+ yard field goals (Morten Andersen). On January 3, 2010, Janikowski reached his 1,000th career point with a 39-yard field goal against the Baltimore Ravens. He is the highest scoring player in Raiders history.

On September 12, 2011, as a rainy first half against the Denver Broncos came to a close, Janikowski made a 63-yard field goal and tied the NFL record set by Tom Dempsey in 1970 and previously tied by Jason Elam (1998) and afterwards by David Akers (2012), but which has subsequently been broken by Matt Prater of the Denver Broncos. On November 27, 2011, in a game against the Chicago Bears, Janikowski made field goals of 40, 47, 42, 19, 37 and 44 yards to break the team record of most field goals in a single game he shared with Jeff Jaeger.[11] Janikowski attempted a 65-yard field goal on December 18, 2011, against the Detroit Lions, but Ndamukong Suh blocked it to end the game.

Three contract extensions

After the 2004 season Janikowski was given a five-year contract extension reportedly worth $10.5 million. This made him (at the time) the highest paid kicker in NFL history.[12] In February 2010, Janikowski extended his contract with the Raiders for $16 million over the next four years, including $9 million in guaranteed money, making him the highest paid placekicker in NFL history.[13] On August 2, 2013, Janikowski signed a four-year contract extension with the Oakland Raiders for $19 million over five years, including $8 million guaranteed.[14]


In addition to being historically powerful, Janikowski has shown accuracy throughout his career, with his best year in terms of field goal percentage being 91.2 percent (31 of 34) in 2012 and his next best 89.7 percent (26 of 29) in 2009.[15] His highest number of field goals was 33 (out of 41) in 2010, when he was named after the regular season as an alternate in the 2011 Pro Bowl behind Billy Cundiff.[15] His next highest was 31 (in 2011 and 2012).[15] He is currently ranked 39th all-time in field goal accuracy at 80.21%, behind the leader Dan Bailey, at 90.57%.[16] Janikowski was named the starting kicker for the 2012 AFC Pro Bowl team on December 27, 2011. In that game, he hit a Pro Bowl record eight extra points and a field goal in the 59–41 AFC victory.

NFL records


  1. About Sebastian
  2. 1 2 3 Layden, Tim. "Big Foot". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  3. "Video". CNN. December 20, 1999. Retrieved May 23, 2010.
  4. Bowden, Bobby (2014-08-19). "I'm Bobby Bowden: Former FSU head coach, dadgummit. AMA". Reddit. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  5. FSU's Janikowski arrested for bribery
  6. "National Football League: NFL Draft History". Retrieved 2011-10-07.
  7. Janikowski acquitted of all drug charges
  8. Sebastian Janikowski's flirt with history.
  9. Patra, Kevin (December 14, 2013). "The failed tries to break the 63-yard field-goal record". NFL. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  10. Colts vs. Raiders at ESPN, 26 December 2010
  11. Janikowski broke franchise record with 6 field goals
  12. Raiders ink Janikowski to five-year extension
  13. Murphy, Brian (2010-02-17). "Sebastian Janikowski gets the biggest contract for any NFL kicker ever". Retrieved 2011-10-07.
  14. Breech, John (August 2, 2013). "Raiders ink kicker Sebastian Janikowski to four-year extension". Retrieved August 5, 2013.
  15. 1 2 3 "Sebastian Janikowski". Pro Football Reference. Retrieved September 11, 2016.
  16. "NFL Career Field Goal % Leaders". Retrieved 2011-10-07.
  17. "Sebastian Janikowski ties NFL record for 50-yard field goals". December 25, 2015. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
  18. "Greg Zuerlein makes 61-yard field goal". November 8, 2016. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
  19. Moczerniuk, Tomek (2012-02-02). "NFL: Rekordzista Janikowski". (in Polish).

External links

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