As part of the JCPenney Van Heusen Pro Football Hall of Fame Fan's Choice campaign, I had the opportunity to interview Hall of Fame K Jan Stenerud. He will be at Lambeau on Sunday to participate in a Q&A session, alongside fellow HoF members Paul Krause and Bart Starr. He couldn't have been nicer on the phone and it was a pleasure to speak to him.
He spent most of his career in Kansas City and he joined the Chiefs the year after they lost to the Packers in the Super Bowl. He was let go after the 1979 season, and joined the Packers in 1980. At the time, the Packers had already gone through two other kickers that season, so bringing in a reliable veteran was a great move. He only attempted 5 FGs in 1980, but in 1981 he was nearly perfect, hitting 22 of 24 FG attempts.
Unfortunately he was part of the purge of veterans by Forrest Gregg in the mid-1980s, and he finished up his career in Minnesota. He was replaced in 1984 by K Eddie Garcia, who only lasted 7 games, until they found K Al Del Greco (who then was part of another purge himself in 1987).
Brandon: You were a favorite player of mine because the Packers had a revolving door at kicker when you came in during the 1980 season. How did you wind up becoming a Green Bay Packer?
Stenerud: In 1980, Kansas City was coached by Marv Levy, and they had brought in a young K Nick Lowery. Marv wanted me to kick different, and he decided to go with the young kicker. I had a chance to go to Tampa Bay, but I didn't want to try out. So I sat out until Bart Starr called and invited me up. I hadn't kicked in two or three months. I enjoyed my time in Green Bay. Then Forrest Gregg came in and traded me to Minnesota for a 6th round draft pick. And I went and made the Pro Bowl.
Brandon: Could you tell me a little bit about how the Hall of Fame selection process works?
Stenerud: They have one writer from each NFL city and some at large writers, like for Sports Illustrated. Usually it's the senior beat writer in each city, and they all take it very seriously. The Hall of Fame, in collaboration with JC Penney and Van Heusen, is trying to get the fans more involved, and hopefully the writers take the fans choices into consideration.
Brandon: Gary Anderson and Nick Lowery are former kickers who might be joining you in the Hall of Fame this year. Are you rooting for the kickers to make it? Or are they any hard feeling since Nick Lowery took your job in Kansas City?
Stenerud: I have no problem with Nick, I was upset with Marv Levy for trying to change me. I used to go the NFL meetings, and I would say hello to Marv. Then I got to know him better and I only held it against him for a couple of years. Gary Anderson had some very impressive stats.
Brandon: Are there any other players you're hoping are selected this year?
Stenerud: I'm looking at Ray Guy, it'd be great if he gets in. There's a fantastic receiver who played in Kansas City named Otis Taylor, and offensive lineman Ed Budde. There were some great players in Kansas City. There are a lot of great football players nominated.