Former Saints kicker Morten Andersen, the NFL’s all-time leading scorer, showed he was clutch during his 25 seasons in the league.
Now, after being denied enshrinement to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his second year of eligibility, he’s ready to prove his patience.
“There’s a lot of deserving guys that have been waiting a lot longer than I have,” Andersen — who kicked for the Saints from 1982 to 1994 and last played in the NFL in 2007 — said about being excluded from the Hall’s Class of 2014, which was unveiled in New York on Saturday. “I’m patient. I understand how the process works.”
It was that logjam of “deserving guys” to which Andersen referred that cost him, at least for the moment, according to one member of the Hall of Fame selection committee.
Newsday NFL columnist Bob Glauber said it was his opinion that three of the five modern-day inductees this year were “no-brainers”: defensive end Michael Strahan, linebacker Derrick Brooks and tackle Walter Jones. Brooks and Jones are the only members of the class that were in their first year of eligibility.
That essentially meant there were 12 finalists — including Andersen — vying for two more spots.
Andersen, a semifinalist in 2013, was a five-time All-Pro who was picked for seven Pro Bowl games. He scored 2,544 career points, booting 565 field goals and 849 PATs.
He is the only NFL player to lead two franchises in scoring (the Saints and the Atlanta Falcons), so there was “plenty of support” for Andersen from Hall of Fame voters, said Glauber, who’s served on the selection committee for four years.
“The main thrust was, ‘He’s the leading scorer in the history of the league,’” Glauber said. “It’s rare that any all-time leading scorer in any league wouldn’t be in their respective Hall of Fame.”
Nonetheless, Glauber explained, the committee preferred two position players with decorated resumes: wide receiver Andre Reed and defensive back Aeneas Williams, a New Orleans native.
Andersen didn’t survive the cut from 15 to 10 finalists.
“At some point, he most likely will get in, ... but these things take such a long time because it is pure math,” Glauber said. “It’s 15 (finalists) for five (spots), and 10 really worthy candidates are going to be left out — period.”
Not everyone agrees with that reasoning as it relates to Andersen. One of those people is Hokie Gajan, the Saints color analyst for WWL Radio.
“The guy’s the all-time leading scorer in the NFL — that alone should get you in,” said Gajan, who once played on the Saints with Andersen. Gajan also called Andersen “a hell of a guy for his teams ... and the community,” evident in the youth charity work he’s immersed himself in since he was a player.
Andersen insisted that his enthusiasts shouldn’t be disappointed that he fell short of Canton. “It’s time to celebrate the guys that did get in and not diminish what they meant to the game by focusing too much on the guys that didn’t get in,” he said.
The ex-kicker was heartened to see punter Ray Guy earn entrance into the Hall of Fame as one of two senior inductees, who are in addition to the modern-day honorees. Guy, a six-time All-Pro for the Raiders from 1973 to 1986, became only the second full-time specialist ever to make it into the Hall.
Andersen realizes his odds weren’t helped by Guy. It was unlikely the committee was going to raise the number of full-time specialists in Canton from 1 to 3 in a single day.
But, in Andersen’s eyes, Guy’s admission into the Hall of Fame was undoubtedly a positive note.
“Hopefully,” Andersen said, “he gives us (specialists) a chance.”