Category Archives: Jan Stenerud

The Foreign Exchange Student Who Gave Up Jumping for Kicking!

Dave Steidel looks at the only kicker in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Imagine having a scholarship to college, being the best in your athletic field, a three time Big Sky Conference/NCAA champion and then giving it all up to try another sport.  That is exactly what Montana State University ski-jumper Jan Stenerud did back in 1965.

autographed 1970 topps jan stenerud

#025 – Jan Stenerud

Stenerud, born in Norway, and who will turn 70 on November 26, 2012, was a champion ski-jumper attending school in Bozeman, Montana when, as a sophomore in ’65, he found himself in a unique and befuddling situation.  It was early in the school year when Jan was doing some pre-season training on the Montana State track to ready himself for the upcoming ski season.  While he was running the oval that surrounded the football field some of Stenerud’s friends were filtering on the gridiron prior to the day’s football practice.  The group was fooling around and challenging each other’s prowess for kicking the ball through the goal post uprights when they invited to Jan to give it a try.  His first attempt barely made it off the ground – but that was because his attempt was ala Lou Groza style; with is toe as he saw the other players doing.  But Stenerud was not about to let that kick be his defining moment in a sport that he knew literally nothing about.  His second kick attempt, still in his running sneakers, used the style which he grew up knowing how to kick a ball – with his instep as he was taught as a youth soccer player in his home of town of Fetsund, Norway.  This kick split the uprights from 40 yards out.  After matter-of-factly booting a second and third kick equally as accurate he moved back 20 yards to attempt one from an unheard distance of 60 yards away.  As the kick cleared the crossbar dead-center Stenerud, without a second thought, walked back to the track and continued is workout.

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