A kicker? Really?! A kicker?
There was no doubt that over 11 years ago when the Raiders took Sebastian Janikowski in the first round of the 2000 draft that tons of people said the above phrase.
Even now, after watching football all day yesterday my friends and I couldn’t believe it.
“How could Al Davis seriously choose a kicker in the first round?”
Yet, an iPhone, a few tallboys and some good conversation among our bar mates changed our thoughts of the Raiders taking Janikowski 17th overall in 2000.
First of all, the 2000 NFL Draft might be one of the weakest drafts ever. If you look through it, there seem to be more flops and players who were decent rather than good.
The Raiders chose Janikowski over Shaun Alexander (who was an MVP, but once he hit 30, he was done) and Chad Pennington, who was a decent quarterback. But they also chose wisely and did not draft guys like Stocker McDougle, R. Jay Soward or Trung Canidate, all of whom were also first-rounders.
Of all the first round picks taken in 2000, only Brian Urlacher is a true stud. There are some other names you would find familiar, however, choosing Janikowski may have been one of the smartest first-round picks by the Raiders in the millennium.
So many teams have terrible kickers and run through them like bad Mexican food runs through your body. A lot of kickers are based on week-to-week evaluations and some teams miss the playoffs based on their poor kicking game.
It seems that teams almost worry about their kickers like fantasy players do – “Aw, just grab somebody, he’ll score us a few points every week.” Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.
While Janikowski hasn’t been as reliable as, say, Gary Anderson and while he doesn’t rock the sweet one-bar helmet, he has been a pretty bad ass NFL player.
How many kickers look like they could play linebacker? How many others get caught with the date rape drug? Or drive drunk? Or get into a bar fight? Or, most recently, get charged with false imprisonment and battery?
It’s almost like Janikowski is living the sweet NFL life, but he gets overshadowed because he’s a kicker. All the time he’s trying to keep up with Pacman Jones or Cedric Benson or Michael Vick, but he only seems to screw up just enough.
Even Roger Goodell, the judge and jury of NFL discipline, probably thinks “I’m not wasting my time suspending a f—ing kicker.”
Plus, having a tough kicker like him has allowed tons of people to shout out the line from Dumb and Dumber: “Kick his ass, Sea Bass!”
Janikowski is a true weapon for the Raiders and a much better pick than Mike Nugent, who was taken in the second round by the Jets in 2005 (the only other active kicker/punter who was drafted before the fourth round), was fairly weak and is now kicking for the Bengals.
Isn’t a first-round pick supposed to shore up a weak area for a franchise for years? Isn’t that exactly what Janikowski has done? Picks like Sylvester Morris set a franchise back. Janikowski has arguably been one of the most solid first round picks in the last 15 years.
It’d be one thing if the Raiders drafted one of the Gramatica clowns, but they drafted a very good kicker who just happens to be a guy you either want to hang out with on the weekends, or someone who you’re wondering if he’s pretty shady.
As Vince Vaughn said in “Swingers” Janikowski is like “the guy in the rated R movie, the guy you’re not sure whether or not you like yet. You’re not sure where he’s coming from.”
In other words, he is a true Raider.