"You really ought to take a picture of me wearing diapers," says Jan Stenerud, the Minnesota Viking kicker who owns up to being 41. "I feel like such a young babe."
Stenerud fell in love with the rocking chair used as a prop for the picture, below, and he now has one in front of his locker at the Vikings' training facility. The 18-year veteran happens to be the oldest guy on the Vikings, not to mention the entire NFL, so Minnesota p.r. man Merrill Swanson got Stenerud his own rocker at a flea market.
"My parents ask what I'm going to do when I grow up," says Stenerud, who's the only active player left from the American Football League, which ceased to exist in 1970. Since being traded in July from Green Bay to the Vikes, his third pro team, Stenerud has been rejuvenated. He has scored 57 of the Vikings' 129 points this season, has converted 15 of 16 field-goal tries (including a 54-yarder) and has made 12 of 12 extra points. He's the second leading alltime scorer in pro football with 1,580 points, 422 fewer than George Blanda. "I do have little nagging injuries," says Stenerud. "This season I had to have a special brace made to stabilize my left ankle. I must have planted that foot 20,000 times in my career. I run every day after practice, and I lift weights three times a week. I never enjoy myself during the season; I'm always worrying about something. But that's why I've lasted so long.
"I love this game. If my mind doesn't go, I just might kick till I die."
You might not remember the legend of J�rgie J�rgensen (as Stenerud was nicknamed by his old Kansas City Chief cronies): In 1962, Stenerud, a junior soccer star from Fetsund, Norway, goes to Montana State on a skiing scholarship. Three years later, he happens upon a couple of Bobcat football players kicking field goals straight on, tries one soccer-style and boots a 50-yarder—wearing tennis shoes. The rest is history.
" Kansas City is my home," he says. "And Green Bay was football mania at its best. But now, I can't picture myself with any other team. Minnesota is like the place I grew up—the climate, the surroundings, the people. It's as if I was meant to play here."