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Peter King
November 28, 1994
Tempered Steel
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November 28, 1994

The Nfl

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Goal Oriented

Buffalo's Steve Christie has never been your garden-variety kicker. A case in point: After he kicked the winning three-pointer in the greatest comeback in NFL history—Buffalo's 41-38 wild-card win over the Oilers in 1992—a fan who caught the ball in the stands offered to return it to him for $10,000. "Ten grand?" Christie said. "I wouldn't give $10 for it."

Clearly, Christie has more than field goals on his mind. When his contract with the Bills expires after next season, he will consider leaving the NFL for pro soccer. A native of Oakville, Ont., Christie is a former member of the Canadian Junior World Cup soccer team and dreams of moving to Europe in 1996 to play soccer for a living—even though he knows kicking the round ball won't be nearly as lucrative as kicking the oval one.

"Playing in the NFL was never a goal of mine as a kid," says Christie. "Now I look at [ U.S. World Cup star] Alexi Lalas making it in Italy. Wow! I stay up every Monday night until two in the morning watching a European soccer game on cable. I know the money would be a lot different, but I'd love to do it. I'm just waiting for my wife to say, 'O.K., go ahead.' "

Losing Christie to the Tottenham Hotspurs would be an awful blow to the Bills. This season he had a team-record string of 17 consecutive field goals that was snapped on Nov. 14 when his 32-yard attempt was blocked in a 23-10 loss to the Steelers. "I never look at stats or field goal lists," Christie says. "You make 'em? So what. You miss 'em? So what. I keep it pretty simple. You have to."

Christie's ability—rare for a kicker—to avoid becoming obsessed with his work probably stems from his habit of spending much of his spare time painting. He is an abstract impressionist who works in oil, and he is now doing a series of canvases called Crossbars, which depict, well, what else? "Painting helps me get away from everything," Christie says. Clearly. Here are the NFL's most efficient kickers of all time, all of whom are active:


This year's craze among NFL players? Drag racing. Go into any locker room, and you'll hear players bragging about their cars. The Browns' Eric Metcalf and Eric Turner were arrested for racing on a Cleveland highway in September. Now a source tells SI that a group of young Jets are racing on Long Island. NFL security had better stop this before someone gets killed....

Leading 9-6 late in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals had a fourth-and-four at the Eagle 41 and elected to punt. Just before the snap, Arizona center Randy Kirk said to Philly lineman Greg Townsend, "Hey, fatso!" He hoped to rattle Townsend, and he did. Townsend slugged Kirk in the jaw, drawing an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty, which gave the Cardinals a first down and led to a field goal four plays later.

The End Zone
After 13 months spent rehabilitating his injured right knee, linebacker Jerry Olsavsky has returned to the Steelers. Two tendons from a cadaver were implanted in his knee in November 1993, and Olsavsky learned afterward that the tendons had belonged to a recently departed Texan. "I can use them," Olsavsky said. "They play pretty good football in Texas."

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