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John DeShazier: It's time for voters to put Morten Andersen in Pro Football Hall of Fame

Saints legend is a finalist for the fourth time

The challenge flag is out, in plain view, lying on the carpet of the room occupied by Pro Football Hall of Fame voters. Legitimately, it has been there for each of the four years of Morten Andersen's candidacy.

This weekend, perhaps voters will go into the room, take a good, hard look at Andersen's candidacy, and reverse their previous call. This Saturday, those voters will have the chance to make right a decision that appears to be clear regardless of the camera angle.

Andersen, again, is a finalist for the Hall of Fame. But this should be the last year that he's a finalist.

Whatever reason voters have used to deny a kicker entry into the hallowed Hall since 1991 – Jan Stenerud made it that year – it's time to drop the over-analysis/under-appreciation, and acknowledge Andersen with the highest honor for constructing the most productive kicking career in league history.

"To me, a Hall of Famer is someone who has shown excellence over a long period of time," Stenerud said. "Nobody has ever done that better than Morten Andersen."

Anderson is the league's all-time leading scorer (2,544 points), and the only player who's the leading scorer for two franchises (the New Orleans Saints and Falcons). He holds the NFL record for field goals (565), was named All-Pro six times, was voted to the All-Decade team – by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, no less – for the 1980s and 90s.

He holds the NFL record with 22 seasons of at least 90 points, played in a league-record 382 games and scored in – you guessed it – a league-record 360 consecutive games.

Photos of former Saints kicker Morten Andersen from his induction to the Ring of Honor, his visit to Saints training camp and his career. (New Orleans Saints Photos).

But beyond the sheer volume of achievement, Andersen, a member of the Saints Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor, likely was more transformational at the position than any other, as reliable a weapon from 59 yards and in as there ever has been (in 1995, as a member of the Falcons while playing against the Saints, he became the first kicker in league history to make three 50-yard field goals in one game).

And he was as clutch a kicker as anyone can remember: 22 times, he kicked game-winning field goals in the final two minutes of regulation or in overtime.

"Everyone knows Morten is the best kicker of all-time and the National Football League's all-time leading scorer," said former Saints coach Jim Mora, who coached Andersen from 1986-95. "But the best thing about Morten was when he had to make a clutch kick to win a game, he was outstanding. When the game was on the line and he had to go in there and make that kick for the Saints to win the game, he was going to make it. He was the best there is when the game was on the line."

And there's this offering from former Falcons coach Dan Reeves, who had Andersen on his roster from 1997-2000:

"Without question, Morten was one of the hardest-working football players I ever coached and that was unusual because he was a kicker. He was always out there, whether it was after we finished our pre-game routine or at practice. Most kickers sit and watch practice, but Morten would continue to work to be the best he could be. I was fortunate that, at the end of my career, I had him as a kicker.

"When you get into field-goal range, as a coach, it's a great feeling to know that the worst thing that can happen is you're going to come away with three points. That was helpful as far as calling plays.

"Morten should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, especially when you look at the points he scored – and he did it with two teams that struggled as far as making the playoffs. Look at the number of points he was able to score, and neither team were the highest-scoring teams in the NFL. He scored an awful lot of points for both of them, and he's a heck of a kicker."

There are more testimonials from former teammates and coaches, and they all pretty much echo the words of Mora and Reeves. Namely, that Andersen was as good at his job as any NFL player ever has been at his job.

It's time the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters rewarded him for it.

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