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Morten Andersen humbled by inclusion in Ring of Honor

Great kicker will be the fourth member of Saints Ring

White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. – Morten Andersen crafted a 13-year career with the New Orleans Saints, and a 25-year career overall, on a steely on-field demeanor that projected calm amid chaos.

He won game after game with left-footed field goals that sailed through uprights with mere seconds remaining, or as time expired, his expression unchanging during the sideline preparation for those kicks or the execution of them.

Likely, he'd have had a difficult time kicking a game-winner Monday, and not just because of the aging process. Emotionally, Andersen clearly was compromised as he addressed media members at The Greenbrier, where the Saints announced that the future Pro Football Hall of Famer has been honored as the fourth member of the team's Ring of Honor, joining prior honorees Rickey Jackson, Archie Manning and Willie Roaf.

"It's humbling because it's four of us right now that are going to be up there, immortalized," Andersen said. "A wealth of emotions flood over you in a powerful moment like this. Mostly, what I come back to, No. 1, is the relationships that I had with the players and the coaches and the teams that I played for with the Saints.

"We were pretty good in the '80s, we had the best linebacking corps, I think, in the history of the game with Sam Mills, Vaughan Johnson, Pat Swilling and Rickey Jackson. And we won a lot of football games.

"And what I take away from my 25 years, and 13 years with the Saints, is just the quality of the guys. Those are memories that you treasure and you have forever."

The memories will join several marks Andersen has set that, perhaps, will live forever in NFL annals.

He's the league's all-time leader in points (2,544) and games played (382), and is the only player in league history to be the leading scorer for two franchises, the Saints (1,318 points) and Falcons (806). He held or shared 21 NFL records when he retired in 2009, including 103 game-winning field goals.

For the Saints, he kicked 302 field goals in 389 attempts and made 412 of 418 point-after attempts.

He also was a member of the NFL's All-Decade teams for the 1980s and '90s.

"I would say sooner than later, this guy is going to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame," Saints Coach Sean Payton said Monday. "That is a fact."

Also undisputable is the fact that Andersen met the criteria to earn the distinction of being placed in the Ring of Honor. Payton said the merit-based accolade should be difficult to attain, and Andersen unquestionably deserves it.

Andersen said that playing in New Orleans was a fulfilling experience.

"For me, it was the sense of community," he said. "Saints games were like a religious experience for people in New Orleans – there was God, family and the Saints. And it still is like that.

"For me, the experience on Sunday afternoon in the Dome was just…it's hard to explain unless you're there. But it is kind of like you're in church, with 70,000 of your best friends and everybody's pulling in the same direction. It was the hugest home-field advantage for us, and it still is."

In retirement, Andersen often is called upon to tutor young kickers. He said that his advice to them is the same.

"There's two things you control, the effort you bring and the attitude you have," he said. "You have certain ability, but you've got to own your workbench. You've got to understand that each position has a very definable moment of truth. For a kicker, it's when the plant foot hits the ground – you're either in the wrong place, or the right place.

"You can go through all positions and say, 'Here's the moment of truth, here's the workbench.' As a player that's all you can do. I would try to identify that for a young guy: 'What is your workbench. This is your workbench, own it.'

"And on Sunday, when the lights come on for three hours, just go out and be an athlete. But all the work's got to come prior to Sunday afternoon."

All the work Anderson put in before all those Sunday afternoons helped him produce an NFL career that will be difficult, if not impossible, for any future kicker to duplicate. He owned his workbench as few others have owned it before or since, and the result is that he next will be added to the Saints' Ring of Honor.

Morten Andersen at Saints camp on Monday, August 3, 2015. Photos by Richard Crank.

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