My favorite Packers: Jan Stenerud, the man who started it all


Many times we are asked, who was or is your favorite Green Bay Packers player?

He is the first player that I can think of that grabbed my attention.

Well for me that question takes a slight twist. There was one Packers player who started my journey in becoming a fan and eventually a tutu-wearing writer for

That man, was the one and only Jan Stenerud.

I couldn’t tell you what made him stick out above all the other players of his time with the Packers, but he is the first player that I can think of that grabbed my attention.

Stenerud was born in November 1942 in Festund, Norway, and arrived in the United States on a ski jumping scholarship at Montana State University in Bozeman.

It was there where his path to the NFL began.

According to Stenerud, he was cooling down from a workout after running stadium steps by kicking a football with the school’s halfback Dale Jackson.  The basketball coach saw him kicking and alerted the football coach, Jim Sweeney, who gave Stenerud a tryout.

Jan Stenerud made a stop in Minocqua, Wisconsin, in 2012.

Though unable to play that season, he suited up the folowing spring (1964) and began his football career.

That fall, Stenerud set a college football record with a 59-yard field goal against rival Montana in a 24-7 victory.

In 1965 Stenerud was named an All American in football by the Sporting News (he also took home honors as an All American in ski jumping and was a three-time Big Sky ski jumping champion).

Coming out of college, Stenerud played for the Kansas City Chiefs. During his first three years he averaged a 70 percent completion on his field goals. The average for kickers in the NFL and AFL at that time was 53 percent.

In 1969, he kicked a 48-yard field goal in Super Bowl IV, a record that stood for 24 years.

In 1980, Stenerud left Kansas City and became a Packer, where he played for three years. It is here where my journey started.  I am not sure what it was about the soccer style kicker that I found so engaging. Maybe it was his Norwegian name  (me being half Swedish). Maybe it was because he never seemed to miss. I just know that when I watched games with my Dad, he was the only player that never caught the unloading of screaming and yelling like the others did. He was consistent and he was exciting. He made me want to become a kicker (never happened).

Like a few others, Stenerud moved on to the Vikings where he finished his hall of fame career.  But back in those days, there was not as much negativity in such a move. Besides, where else would a Norwegian finish (no pun intended) his career? As a Dolphin?

Currently, Stenerud is involved with a Kansas City firm that designs stadiums and sports arenas. He also handled duties for Scandinavian TV3 Super Bowl festivities in the 1990s.

Most recently, Stenerud hosted a young football kicker by the name of Jorgen Gulbrandsen, who hailed from his own home town of Fetsund in Norway. Stenerud hosted the family who became the only other people from his hometown aside from his parents to watch an NFL game.

Stenerud may not have been flamboyant and a household name, like a few others from the early 80s Packers teams, but he will always remain my first favorite Packer and the man who started me on my journey to where I am today as a fan and a writer.