Morten Andersen at Saints camp on Monday, August 3, 2015. Photos by Richard Crank.
Opening statement from Morten Andersen:
"It's a great pleasure to be here. It truly is an honor and a privilege to be joining three legendary Saints players Archie Manning, Rickey Jackson, and Willie Roaf. It's humbling because there's only four of us that are going to be up there right now, immortalized, and a wealth of emotions kind of flood over you in a powerful moment like this. Mostly what I come back to, number one, is the relationships that I had with the players, the coaches, and the teams that I played for with the Saints. We were pretty good in the 1980s. We had the best linebacking corps in the history of the game with Sam Mills, Vaughn Johnson, Pat Swilling, and Rickey Jackson. We won a lot of football games and what I take away from my 25 years and certainly my 13 years with the Saints, just the quality of the guys and some of them are still here in the administration, (and) training staff. My good friend Chief, Dan Simmons, who was with the organization for 45 years (in equipment). Those are just good memories that you treasure and you have forever. I'd be remiss if I did not mention that Dan Simmons is now in charge of our alumni relations, trying to bring back essential legacy building with the team, something that's been missing and something I think now is being mandated and follow through from the NFL side with the Legends program which I am a part of. I am really proud that Chief has taken on this endeavor to connect old members of the Saints back from 1967. Every player, every coach that ever played in the fleur-de-lis is now going to be able to come back to the Saints and feel good about it (and) feel proud about it. It is something that Sean Payton has been a huge part of, Mickey Loomis, Greg Bensel and the entire Saints organization along with, of course, Mr. (Tom) Benson. I'm very proud to, obviously, be included in this great company. It went by like this guys, I keep telling young guys, you blink your eyes and it's gone but it sure was a special time with the Saints. I love the city of New Orleans, the fans of New Orleans are unique, they are passionate, it's a hard city to live in sometimes but it sure was fun and I love going back there and I can't wait to go back during, I believe December for the Monday night game against the Lions and see that number and name hanging up there. I really appreciate this everybody and appreciate this honor. Thank you."
If you could pass down in your career to a young kicker, game-winning kicks, the games on the line or having to be able to take that 50-yarder. Is it just something with the process where you practice with and preach that kind of thing to be able to do it in a game situation?
"I'd just tell them to aim for the middle because the middle never changes but I was a work in progress as we all are as professional athletes and I think in a high performance business you have to do a couple of things. There are two things that you control Bobby (Hebert), it is the effort you bring and the attitude you have. You have a certain ability but you have to own your workbench, you have to understand that each position has a very definable moment of truth. For a kicker it is when the plant foot hits the ground, you are either in the wrong place or the right place. For a quarterback, that moment is when he drops back and steps and he gets ready to throw it. He's ether going to over stride it, and it is in his back or he is in his power zone and he can throw that ball down the target line. You can go through all the positions and say here's the moment of truth, here is the workbench. As a player that is all you can do so I would try to identify that for a young guy. What's your work bench? This is your workbench, own it. On Sunday, when the lights come on for three hours, just go out and be an athlete and have fun, like we did. But all the work has to come prior to Sunday afternoon."
You wanted to kick until you were 50. How old are you now and could you still kick if they called you out of retirement?
"I did. John Carney could still kick, he is out here working with the young guys, he can do it. My right knee is very marginally close to being bone on bone so I'm more of an observer and trying to spray some wisdom in the direction of the young guys."
It that from all the planting or your tennis game?
"I played with you Jim (Henderson), it was that tennis game and all those forehands that you made me run for."
You played for several different franchises, what set the Saints apart? Especially the passion of the fans and your relationships with the fans from other places?
"I think for me it was essentially community. The Saints games were like a religious experience for people in New Orleans. There was God, Family and the Saints and it is still like that. It is a big small town. New Orleans, by way of its geographical location, has gone through some terrible, tough times but the resilience of the people there always shines through and that is what I take away from the city every time I go back there. Hey we are just going to rebuild and we are here and we are not going anywhere and I think for me the experience on Sunday afternoon in the dome was just, it is hard to explain unless you are there, but it's kind of like you are in church. 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. To me, what being a Saint, and what makes being in New Orleans special is the people and the intensity of the experience with those people. It's a whole different level. You can talk about all the other cities in America but for me it's amateur hour. Unless you've been to New Orleans and been to Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest and walked down Bourbon Street at 2 A.M., well I don't recommend 2 A.M. Unless you have been to Port of Call and had a burger and been through a monsoon, you haven't lived yet."
When you do get that call to go into the Hall of Fame, will you go in as a Saint?
"Without a doubt, now having said that, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, you go in based off of the body of your work but most of the body of my work was in New Orleans. You can tip your hat. That would be the way to do it I guess so absolutely."