Sixty-three? "I told people after my kick that it might be gone in a week," he says. "I'm shocked that it's still there."
SPORTS AUTHORITY FIELD AT MILE HIGH, DENVER
September 12, 2011
The Raiders were leading 13--3 and had moved to the Broncos' 45 with five seconds left in the first half. Sebastian Janikowski, who in 2007 had banged a 64-yard attempt halfway up the right upright, had made a 61 and a 59 in the previous two seasons. (He had also been trotted out in '08 to try a 76-yarder, which failed to reach the goal line. Coach Lane Kiffin was canned two days later, though not specifically for that decision.) Like Elam, Janikowski benefited from the Denver altitude, which allows long kicks to travel slightly farther than at sea level. "I have a hard time saying those 63s in Denver are equal to Dempsey's and Akers's," says Andersen. "I've played there and put kickoffs in the stands."
"I was in college when Elam kicked his 63-yarder. Saw it on TV. Definitely impressed. You always know that 63 is out there. I went out to kick that one, and at first I didn't realize it was 63. I didn't really hit it that good, but the ball goes extra good in Denver. I watched the film; I was the only one celebrating at first. Made it by a yard or so. I wish I told [holder] Shane Lechler to go back an extra yard for the record. It would be cool to be the one guy holding that record."
Janikowski, 34, sits in a conference room at the Raiders' facility adjacent to Oakland Airport. This is the second meeting between writer and kicker. The first was 13 years earlier. Janikowski was a 21-year-old senior at Florida State and answered his door shirtless, in nothing but boxer shorts, barely having slept after a routine, nightlong vodka binge. Back then the young Seabass was the baddest man in Tallahassee, with multiple arrests (though no convictions) accrued during late-night carousing. There were two more incidents early in his Oakland career, a DUI and a bar fight. In 2010 he was accused of shoving a woman at a Bay Area nightclub and ordered to undergo anger-management counseling.
Yet he seems to be a gentler Seabass, a former wild man slowly finding repose. On Sept. 3, Janikowski's wife, Lori, gave birth to twin girls, Mila and Vi. His mother, Halina, who had cried when her only son left Poland as a teenager, moved to the U.S. permanently in 1999 and came to Oakland to help with the babies. "I lived with him as a rookie," says Lechler, who was in the same Raiders draft class as Janikowski, in 2000. "I've watched him grow up in front of my eyes. At some point he figured out that stuff he did in the past just wasn't cool."
Yet he offers no apology. "It's all part of life," he says. "You get older, you slow down. It happens. I'm happy with the way I grew up. No regrets." He was raised a soccer player and a fan of A.C. Milan; now his allegiance has switched to Arsenal. He no longer plays soccer, and he no longer tries to bench-press the entire gym in the weight room. "I don't want to get hurt," he says. "I'd love to play 10 more years."
Sixty-three?, "I know that's the number," he says. "But I believe somebody is going to kick a longer one soon."
LAMBEAU FIELD, GREEN BAY