WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Over the course of his five-team, 25-year career, Morten Andersen played in more games than anyone in NFL history.
But, Andersen said Monday upon being named the fourth person to join the Saints Ring of Honor, there was no more special time in the kicker’s life than the 13 seasons he spent in New Orleans — especially because of his bond with the fans.
“A Saints game was like a religious experience,” Andersen said in an appearance at Saints training camp. “It was God, family and the Saints — and it’s still like that. It’s hard to explain the relationship we had there, but it was kind of like being in church with 70,000 of your best friends and everybody pulling in the same direction. The intensity of the experience with those people was at a whole other level.”
That was true off the field as well.
“You can talk about other cities,” Andersen said. “But nowhere else can you enjoy Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest or walk down Bourbon Street or just have a burger and a Monsoon at the Port of Call. That’s why I have a flood of emotions pouring over me right now.”
Andersen’s name will be unveiled on the terrace level fascia of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome at halftime of the Dec. 21 game against Detroit.
“We as an organization would like to honor Morten for his great career as a Saint with everything he did for us on the field as well as being an outstanding ambassador in our community,” Saints owner Tom Benson said in a statement. “He made so many big kicks for us throughout his career and is a great addition to our Ring of Honor.”
Of the league-record 2,544 points Andersen scored in his career, which lasted from 1982 to 2007, a club-record 1,318 came during his time with the Saints (1982-94). A six-time Pro Bowler, Andersen also played in a Saints record 196 games.
In 2013, Archie Manning, Willie Roaf and Rickey Jackson became the first three persons placed in the Ring of Honor.
“We wanted to make this very tough to get in,” Saints coach Sean Payton said. “The first three choices were crystal clear, but we didn’t have anyone last year, and it might be three years before we have another. But there’s no doubt that Morten belongs and that, someday sooner than later, he will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
Andersen has been a finalist for that honor the past two years. He already has been named to the league’s All-Decade teams for both the 1980s and 1990s and, along with the Saints, is the all-time scoring leader for the Atlanta Falcons, with whom he played eight seasons.
“Morten had this great combination of leg strength and confidence,” said Bobby Hebert, a teammate of Andersen’s both in New Orleans and Atlanta. “He’d put his head down on kickoffs, and you knew they were going into the end zone. And you couldn’t mess with his head, even when a game was on the line. The guy was a phenomenal kicker and a great teammate.”
Andersen, who was accompanied Monday by his son, Sebastian, a sophomore linebacker at Lanier High School in suburban Atlanta, often said he wanted to play until he was 50, but knee problems ended his career at age 47.
Still, he said, 25 years never seemed like enough.
“I’m proud of all I did,” he said. “But it seemed like it went by in a blink of an eye.”