Work in Sports
'This guy improves us'
Unpredictable Raiders take Janikowski with 17th pick
Posted: Sunday April 16, 2000 12:47 AM
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -- Looking past attempted bribery charges and possible deportation, the Oakland Raiders took Florida State kicker Sebastian Janikowski with the 17th overall pick in Saturday's draft.
It was the first time a kicker went in the first round since New Orleans selected Russell Erxleben of Texas with the 11th pick in 1979.
Janikowski, at 6-foot-1 and 263 pounds, kicked 50 field goals the past two seasons, and sent many of his kickoffs through the endzone.
The Raiders need a kicker, having lost several close games the past two seasons because of missed field goals. But Janikowski, a native of Poland, faces a bribery charge for allegedly offering a police officer in Tallahassee, Fla., $300 to release his roommate from custody. The roommate had been denied service at a club and was arrested for trespassing when he refused to leave.
Oakland coach Jon Gruden said the Raiders would deal with the legal issues as they come up, but wasn't overly concerned.
"We did a lot of research on this young man," he said. "We feel we have an environment with our veteran players and our coaching staff for this young man to flourish."
Janikowski, meanwhile, said he's ready to prove there's more to him than the headlines.
"I'm going to put that behind me," he said. "I know who I am and I want people to know me more."
Although the Raiders already have kickers Michael Husted and Joe Nedney on their roster, Janikowski impressed the team with his strength and accuracy.
"At the combine, I don't believe he missed a kick," Gruden said. "He put on an orbital display in Indianapolis."
Oakland had 13 missed field goals last season, and all eight the team's losses in 1999 were by a touchdown or less as the team finished 8-8 for the second straight season.
"This is something we desperately needed to improve on," Gruden said. "This guy improves us."
Janikowski, who spent three seasons with the Seminoles, ranks third on the school's career-scoring list with 324 points.
He faces a May 3 hearing on the bribery charge, a third-degree felony. If found guilty, Janikowski could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, and also could face deportation if convicted.
"I'm not worried about thce up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, and also could face deportation if convicted.
"I'm not worried about that," he said. "I talked to my lawyer and he said everything is going to be OK," he said.
On Sunday, during a tearful conversation with reporters, he said he
With the 47th overall pick in the second round, the Raiders took wide receiver Jerry Porter out of West Virginia. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Porter also played at quarterback and safety last year, and impressed pro scouts with a 44-inch vertical leap.
"That just tells a little bit about his athletic ability,"
Gruden said of Porter. "We brought him here to be a wide