Mike Vanderjagt - Kicker/Punter - 1996-97 - West Virginia University
excerpted from http://www.nnp.org/nni/Publications/Dutch-American/vanderjagt.phpl
Mike Vanderjagt was born in Oakville, Ontario, Canada on March 24, 1970. The same hometown of long-time NFL kicker Steve Christie.
Vanderjagt attended Oakville's White Oaks High School where he was a four-sport star competing in football, basketball, soccer and track. In 1988 he enrolled in Michigan State as a quarterback. Freshmen seldom are considered for starting positions. He left Michigan State and played as a punter and quarterback at a junior college. In 1991 he returned to major college football at West Virginia University where he was their place kicker. Upon graduation in 1993 he returned to Canada where he played for a Canadian Football League [CFL] team, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, for a few games in 1993. Vanderjagt was released by Saskatchewan and was out of the league in 1994 and '95.
He returned to the CFL in 1996 and became the place kicker and punter for the Toronto Argonauts, he also handled kickoffs for the club. In his first home game on July 4, 1996 Vanderjagt missed a last second field goal that would've tied the game with the Hamilton Tiger Cats, Toronto lost 38-36. The game is memorable as the final meeting between Doug Flutie and Matt Dunigan. In 1996 and in 1997 the Argonauts won the CFL's Grey Cup, Canada's national professional football championship. His association with the Argonauts gave some momentum and visibility to Vanderjagt's football career. Mike was a league All-Star in 1997 leading the league in scoring with 190 points.
In 1998, at age 28, he joined the Indianapolis Colts and was their place kicker until the end of the 2005-2006 season. In his first year, in 1998, he had a perfect regular season not missing a single field goal or point-after attempt for the entire season. In 1999 he led the NFL in scoring. He had a spectacular season in 2003 when he became the first kicker in NFL history not to miss a single field goal or a point after attempt. This feat was accomplished not only for the regular season but also for the playoffs.
In addition to the above, Vanderjagt had a streak of 42 successful field goal attempts, the longest in NFL history. The streak ended on September 9, 1994 when he missed a 48 yard attempt against the New England Patriots.
Vanderjagt was not only the near-perfect field goal kicker, but he was also the near-perfect point-after attempt kicker. He completed 292 out of 294 point-after attempts during his NFL career. He also was rookie of the year in 1998, was voted all-pro in 1999 and went to the NFL Pro Bowl in 2003. That year he was also the Colt's all-time leading scorer.
Vanderjagt's football kicking career, at least with the Indianapolis Colts, came to an end during the Colts' final playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in January 2006. The Colts were three points behind the Steelers with only seconds remaining on the clock. The Colts decided to try a field goal attempt. If successful the game would have gone into overtime. Unfortunately for the Colts and for Vanderjagt the field goal attempt failed. As is well-known in such cases the kicker becomes the scapegoat for the loss. The field goal failure by itself would not normally be a reason why the Colts would have decided to cut Vanderjagt. But Vanderjagt had now reached the ripe old age of 36, old for NFL players. The Colts decided to go with a younger and cheaper kicker. Vanderjagt had become too expensive, and possibly too risky. But, lo and behold, in the Fall of 2006, the Dallas Cowboys needed a field goal kicker and hired Vanderjagt for the position.
Vanderjagt was active in fund raising for children with terminal and life altering diseases. He was the founder of a fund-raising fund, "The Just Kicking It Fund", and through his fund raising activities was able to make significant contributions for afflicted children. He personally also made considerable financial contributions to the cause.
Vanderjagt is married to his wife Janalyn. In the off-season the family lives in Toronto. They have a son, Jay Michael, born on April 13, 1999.