Former Saints kicker Morten Andersen a Hall of Fame finalist yet again _lowres

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- Kevin Naquin, center, shakes hands with the NFL's all-time leading scorer, former kicker Morten Andersen, before Andersen is honored at halftime in the New Orleans Saints Ring of Honor in the Superdome in a game against the Detroit Lions in New Orleans, La. Monday, Dec. 21, 2015.

Morten Andersen would never be so inelegant as to campaign for membership in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But if asked to make the case for himself or any other kicker, he’ll do so.

“It depends on if you can answer these two questions unequivocally ‘Yes,’ ” Andersen said Monday before the unveiling of his name on the Saints Ring of Honor. “First, is that player under consideration relevant in the history of the game?

“And did he change the way people looked at how the position was played in a positive way? If you can say, ‘Yes,” to those questions, then I’d say those contributions are hard to ignore.”

Andersen retired in 2007 as the NFL career leader in points scored (2,544), field goals (565) and games played (382), and both marks still stand.

But in his first three years of eligibility for the Hall of Fame, Andersen has yet to be selected, although he has been a finalist for the past two years. The last kicker to be elected was Jan Stenerud in 1991.

The closest player to Andersen in scoring is 43-year-old Adam Venatieri, with 2,237. If he continues playing, Venatieri could overtake Andersen in 2018. Venatieri has played 78 fewer games than Andersen.

“Adam’s already in the conversation because of the big kicks he’s made in the Super Bowl,” Andersen said. “If he, any specialists makes to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I’ll welcome that.

“And if I should make it first, I’ll be there to welcome him.”

Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis added that Andersen’s credentials for Canton are impeccable.

“I’m embarrassed to have to make a case,” he said. “He’s the leading scorer in the history of the NFL.

“What else do you want to know? Kickers are integral parts of this game playing with a high level of skill under the most pressure you can have in our game.”

At any rate, Monday night was about Andersen’s contributions to the Saints, with which he spent the first 13 seasons of his career. He is the team leader in games played (196), points (1,318) and several other categories.

Plus, during his time with the Saints (1982-94), there may have been no more popular player than “The Great Dane.”

It made him a logical choice to follow Archie Manning, Willie Roaf and Ricky Jackson in the team’s Ring of Honor, which was initiated in 2013.

To Loomis, the ring is designed to be a distinct honor.

“This is a meant to be a very select group of contributors to the team,” he said. “Every one of those guys are either in Canton or is should be.

“There are other guys who will become part of the Ring of Honor in the future. But I think this first four really tell a pretty good story of what this franchise is all about.”

Team president Dennis Lauscha, who was a teenager in New Orleans when Andersen was drafted by the Saints, said Andersen was one of heroes in that time.

“He won so many games of us,” Lauscha said. “Morten made a lot of weeks special for all of the fans of the team.”

Andersen said that starting his career with the Saints plus the affection of the fans that made his time in New Orleans more meaningful that he spent with four other teams.

“Some of my first game winners when I started hitting the ball well stand out to me,” he said. “The New Year’s Eve kick to get us into the playoffs was pretty special.

“When you get them at the end of the game, they’re all special. But regardless of what was going on with the team, it was always a lot of fun for me and here and it’s never stopped.”