December 26, 2014

Highlighted Year: Gary Anderson, 1983

Placekicker, Pittsburgh Steelers

Age:  24
2nd season in pro football & with Steelers
College: Syracuse
Height: 5’11” Weight: 156

Born in South Africa, Anderson’s family moved to the US when he was a teenager. Having played rugby while growing up, he quickly showed that he could kick an American football and received a scholarship to Syracuse University. In college, he played two seasons of soccer and, in football, he set school season records for field goals (18) and field goal percentage (94.7) in 1981. Anderson was chosen in the seventh round of the 1982 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills, who cut him prior to the season. Picked up by the Steelers, he was successful on 10 of 12 field goal attempts as well as all 22 tries for extra points during the strike-shortened ’82 season.

1983 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Field goals – 27 [4]
Most field goals, game – 4 at Houston 9/18, vs. San Diego 11/6
Field goal attempts – 31 [6]
Most field goal attempts, game – 4 at Houston 9/18, vs. San Diego 11/6
Field goal percentage – 87.1 [2]
PATs – 38 [13, tied with Ed Murray & Matt Bahr]
PAT attempts – 39 [14]
Longest field goal – 49 yards at Houston 9/18, vs. San Diego 11/6

Field Goals – 27
PATs – 38
Points – 119 [7, 1st in AFC]

Postseason: 1 G (AFC Divisional playoff at LA Raiders)
Field goals – 1
Field goal attempts – 1
PATs – 1
PAT attempts – 1
Longest field goal – 17 yards

Awards & Honors:
2nd team All-NFL: AP
1st team All-AFC: UPI, Pro Football Weekly
Pro Bowl

Steelers went 10-6 to finish first in the AFC Central. Lost AFC Divisional playoff to Los Angeles Raiders (38-10).  

Wearing his characteristic single-bar facemask, Anderson went on to kick for 13 seasons with the Steelers. His topping the AFC in scoring in 1983 was the first of three consecutive seasons in which he did so, and he led the AFC in field goals in ’84 (24) and the entire NFL with 33 in 1985 (his high with Pittsburgh). Anderson received at least some All-NFL recognition in 1985 and ’93 and was named to the Pro Bowl three times as a Steeler. He left Pittsburgh following the 1994 season as the franchise leader in field goals (309) and scoring (1343 points) and spent two years with Philadelphia and one with the 49ers in ’97. Moving on to Minnesota in 1998, Anderson connected on all 35 of his field goal attempts, scored 164 points, and was a consensus first-team All-NFL as well as Pro Bowl selection. However, some luster was lost when he finally missed a field goal attempt in the NFC Championship game, allowing Atlanta to tie the score and win in overtime. He followed up with a career-low 63.3 field goal percentage in 1999 but bounced back to connect on 95.7 percent in 2000 (22 of 23) and lasted with the Vikings through 2002. Anderson finished his career with two seasons in Tennessee in 2003 and ’04, by which time he was 45 years old. Overall, over the course of 23 seasons, Anderson kicked 538 field goals in 672 attempts, both career NFL records at the time, for an 80.1 percentage and 2434 points, also the league career high (his contemporary, Morten Andersen, ultimately surpassed him in all three NFL-record categories). He also kicked 820 extra points, which were second-highest in league history at the time. Anderson added another 32 field goals, in 40 attempts (80.0 %) and 57 extra points in 22 postseason games, with a high of four field goals against the Oilers in 1989.


Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970