Barring a change of heart or suddenly diminished skills, neither of which is anticipated, all-time NFL scoring leader Gary Anderson will come out of
retirement for a second straight year to address a Tennessee Titans kicking plight precipitated by a season-ending injury to star-crossed incumbent
Anderson, who after the 2003 season retired to a small town outside of Calgary to operate a fly-fishing company, has essentially agreed to a one-year
contract for the veteran minimum salary of $760,000. He will arrive in Nashville early next week for a physical exam, probably take a few kicks just
to assure Tennessee officials he hasn't suddenly lost his leg strength, then sign for the balance of the 2004 season.
In the interim, the Titans on Friday will sign second-year veteran kicker Aaron Elling, released by the Minnesota Vikings last week, to help handle
the kicking chores in the Saturday season opener at Miami. It is not certain how the place kicking duties will be split between Elling and punter
Craig Hentrich, who kicked three field goals in the 2003 season opener after Nedney suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his non-kicking
After converting 18 of 25 field goals and all 48 extra points in 2003, Elling struggled in training camp, and his problems carried over into the
preseason. He converted just four of seven field-goal tries in three exhibition contests and, just two days after Vikings coach Mike Tice provided a
public vote of confidence, Elling was waived.
Titans officials made it clear that Elling, who performed better in a Thursday audition than journeyman kicker Tim Duncan, is only a stopgap.
"If you are an 8-8 club, you can maybe take the risk of a younger guy," said general manager Floyd Reese. "[But] we're hoping this is a playoff club
so, for us, we want to try to get as close to a sure thing as we can."
Contacted by two other teams earlier in the offseason, Anderson, very much devoted to his family, opted not to come out of retirement. But when the
Titans sent out an SOS, he felt compelled to respond because he thoroughly enjoyed the 2003 season with the team.
His agent indicated that Tennessee was likely the only franchise for which Anderson would even have considered kicking again.
Anderson, 45, converted 27 of 31 field-goal attempts and all 42 extra-point tries for the Titans in 2003. For his career, the 22-year veteran is the
all-time NFL leader in scoring (2,346 points) and field goals (521). He has scored 100 or more points in 14 seasons, with a career best of 164 points
in 1998, with Minnesota.
The former Syracuse star, a native of South Africa, has kicked for Pittsburgh (1982-94), Philadelphia (1995-96), San Francisco (1997), Minnesota
(1998-2002) and then last year with Tennessee.
The latest injury to Nedney occurred during practice Tuesday as he was kicking off during a special teams segment. As he approached the ball, it began
to blow off the tee and Nedney stretched out awkwardly, then went to the ground. An MRI revealed that Nedney had suffered a torn hamstring in his left
(kicking) leg, and he is tentatively scheduled for surgery next week.