Sebastian Janikowski
Janikowski in November 2008
Oakland RaidersNo. 11
Date of Birth: March 02 1978 (1978-03-02) (age 42)
Place of Birth: Wałbrzych, Poland
Height: 6 ft 2 in (2 m)Weight: 250 lb (113 kg)
National Football League debut
2000 for the Oakland Raiders
Career Highlights and Awards
  • No notable achievements
Career History
College: Florida State
NFL Draft: 2000 / Round: 1 / Pick: 17
Career stats to date

Sebastian Janikowski (born March 2, 1978) is a left-footed Polish placekicker who plays for the National Football League's Oakland Raiders. He is nicknamed The Polish Cannon because he is considered to have one of the strongest kicking legs in the league,[1] and leads the NFL in kickoffs for touchbacks. He lives in Castro Valley, California. On September 12, 2011 in a Monday Night Football game against the Denver Broncos, he tied the NFL record for the longest field goal at 63 yards, sharing the record with Tom Dempsey and Jason Elam.

Early years[edit | edit source]

Sebastian Janikowski was born an only child to Henryk and Halina Janikowski in Wałbrzych, Poland. His father was a professional soccer player, and moved to the United States in the early 1980s in the hopes of reviving his career. Years after emigrating, his parents divorced and Henryk married an American citizen. Left at home with just his mother, Sebastian began to excel at soccer himself. In 1993, 15-year-old Sebastian earned a spot on the Polish under-17 team.

His father's marriage to an American meant that Sebastian could legally emigrate to the United States. He spoke very little English, but learned quickly by taking a three-week night class and by watching television. Janikowski played in only 5 games for the Orangewood Christian soccer team, but led them to the Class A State Championship game by scoring 15 goals, where they lost to Lakeland Christian in penalty kicks (3–2). Then living in Orlando, Florida with his father and stepmother, Sebastian joined the Orlando Lions, an under-19 soccer club coached by Angelo Rossi. Rossi was also the soccer coach at Seabreeze High School in Daytona Beach, and he convinced Henryk that his son would be better off there. Henryk agreed but was unwilling to move, so Sebastian moved in with Rossi's family.

During his senior year at Seabreeze, Janikowski played both soccer and football after being recruited by the school's football coach. As the team's placekicker, he quickly earned a reputation by kicking four field goals of 50+ yards. One of them was for 60 yards, third-best in Florida prep school history. USA Today named Janikowski to its 1996 All-American team. After being heavily recruited by some of the top collegiate football programs, Janikowski decided on Florida State University.

College career[edit | edit source]

Janikowski played three seasons for Florida State where he amassed a career scoring total of 324 points (3rd all-time for the school). In 1999 he became the first kicker to win the Lou Groza Award twice, an honor given annually to the nation's top collegiate kicker. He became popular with fans for being able to kick a placekick kick-off through the endzone uprights, having done it so often that the stadium monitors would display the Field Goal graphics even though it was a kick-off and not an actual Field Goal attempt.

Janikowski's career at FSU was not without incident. In August 1998, he got into a fight outside of a Tallahassee bar and was charged with failure to leave the premises; he pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor offense. That same year, the night after a season-ending win over rival Florida, Janikowski got into a fight at a local bar and was charged with battery.

In the 1999 season, FSU was again in contention for a national title. Prior to the team's appearance in the national championship game (the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana), Janikowski declared his intentions to declare himself eligible for the 2000 NFL Draft, saying his primary reason for foregoing his senior year was to pay for his mother to come to the United States.[2]

Although Janikowski's skill as a kicker was unquestioned by NFL scouts, his off-the-field behavior was a cause of concern. In January 2000, Janikowski was partying with a group of friends when his high school friend was arrested at a nightclub. Janikowski, who later said he was thinking he could save everyone paperwork and the trouble, approached the arresting officer and asked how much it would take to let his friend go. He was then arrested for attempting to bribe an officer, a charge that carried a $5,000 fine, up to five years in prison, and possible deportation. Janikowski claimed that he thought he could pay a fine to have his friend released, but the officer interpreted the action as an attempted bribe.[3]

Professional career[edit | edit source]

File:Sebastian Janikowski.jpg

Janikowski and punter Shane Lechler in July 2007

Janikowski was drafted as the 17th overall pick by the Oakland Raiders in the 2000 NFL Draft[4]—only the 3rd time a place kicker had been taken in the first round in NFL history.

Janikowski was acquitted of his bribery charge in June 2000. He had testified on his own behalf, stating that he was simply trying to pay his friend's fine and not bribe the arresting officer. Just eight days after his acquittal, Janikowski and two friends were arrested in Tallahassee on suspicion of felony possession of the drug GHB. Once again, he faced prison time or deportation if convicted. He was acquitted of all charges in April 2001.[5]

He was charged with DUI on October 2, 2002, and given three years' probation after pleading no contest. Less than a year later, he was arrested after a fight at a Walnut Creek, California, restaurant. The case was later dropped due to insufficient evidence.

Janikowski has annually performed at a high level. After the 2004 season he was given a five-year contract extension reportedly worth $10.5 million, making him, at the time, the highest paid kicker in NFL history.[6]

On November 4, 2007, Janikowski attempted a 64-yard record attempt before halftime against Houston Texans on a windless Oakland afternoon in McAfee Coliseum. While it had the distance, it bounced off the right upright and came back out.[7]

On September 14, 2008, Janikowski made a 56-yard field goal at Arrowhead Stadium. This is presumed to be the longest field goal in the first quarter of a game. Two weeks later, on September 28, Janikowski attempted a 76-yard field goal against the San Diego Chargers into the heavy wind right before halftime. This is presumed to be the longest attempt in NFL history; though the league keeps no such records on attempts, the longest known attempt previous to this was a 74-yard fair catch kick by Mark Moseley in 1979.

On October 19, 2008, Janikowski broke his own team record, making a 57-yard field goal in overtime to defeat the New York Jets, 16–13. This is the longest overtime field goal in NFL history. On December 27, 2009, he again broke his own team record and made a 61-yard field goal against the Cleveland Browns before halftime. On December 26, 2010, Janikowski converted a 59-yard field goal in the second quarter of a home game against the Indianapolis Colts making him the second player with two 59+ yard field goals (Morten Andersen). On January 3, 2010, Janikowski reached his 1,000th career point with a 39 yard field goal against the Baltimore Ravens. He is currently the highest scoring player in Raiders history.

On September 12, 2011, as a rainy first half against the Denver Broncos came to a close, Janikowski made a 63-yard field goal and tied the current NFL record previously achieved by Tom Dempsey (1970) and Jason Elam (1998). On November 27, 2011, Janikowski broke his own team record with 6 field goals in a single game against the Chicago Bears.

Janikowski extended his contract with the Oakland Raiders for $16 million over the next 4 years, including $9 million in guaranteed money, making him the highest paid placekicker in NFL history.[8]

In addition to being powerful, he has been very accurate throughout his career, his best year in terms of field goal percentage being 89.7% (26 of 29) in 2009 and his next best 89.3% (25 of 28) in 2004. His highest number of field goals was 33 (out of 41) in 2010, when he was named after the regular season as an alternate in the 2011 Pro Bowl behind Billy Cundiff, his next highest 26 (in 2009 and 2002). He is currently ranked 41st all-time in field goal accuracy at 79.31%, behind the leader, Nate Kaeding, at 86.5%.[9]

References[edit | edit source]

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External links[edit | edit source]

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