North: Why I wanted Janikowski over Urlacher

  • Sebastian Janikowski, here with Mike North more than 17 years ago, has enjoyed a long and productive career in the NFL as one of its top kickers.

    Sebastian Janikowski, here with Mike North more than 17 years ago, has enjoyed a long and productive career in the NFL as one of its top kickers. Photo courtesy of Mike North/April 2000

Updated 9/16/2016 7:34 AM

Years ago, I taped a weekly TV show at Basta Pasta, a restaurant on the Northwest side of Chicago that recently relocated to Oakbrook Terrace.

Every week I interviewed a star from sports, the media or entertainment -- you name it -- from Pete Rose to Carlton Fisk to Jake LaMotta to Frankie Avalon.


One particular night in April 2000, my guest was a 22-year-old guy that I had requested: Sebastian Janikowski. He played at Florida State, where his career was beset by some off-field problems, a bar fight or two, and some issues due to alcohol.

Nevertheless, I thought then that he would be a great pointgetter for the Chicago Bears and believed they should draft him in the first round.

The Bears selected Brian Urlacher instead, which everyone will agree now was a solid pick. Urlacher went to eight Pro Bowls in his career while Janikowski only went to one.

But while Urlacher was preventing points, Janikowski was racking them up. Now at 38 years old and in his 17th year in the NFL, Janikowski has the longest tenure of any player for the Oakland Raiders.

Janikowski and Urlacher both played in one Super Bowl, playing well but losing their respective games.

Janikowski's stats are pretty impressive: 1,682 points scored; the third longest field goal made (61 yards); four field goals in one quarter; and six field goals of 50 yards or more in a single season. He also led the Raiders in scoring every season of his career.

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Clearly, he has made his mark and is still going strong, even breaking Hall of Fame wide receiver Tim Brown's record of 16 seasons with the Raiders.

Urlacher also had some impressive stats: a franchise record of 41.5 sacks by a linebacker; he tied Dick Butkus for second place in team interceptions (22); and he played in 182 games, just to name a few.

It was a fun thing to debate if Janikowski would have been a better pick, and I'm sure Urlacher understood, knowing he played 13 seasons and Janikowski is playing in his 17th.

I had a friend recently tell me I was nuts to think Janikowski was the better pick over Urlacher, but then I asked him whether it matters that Janikowski, who went 2-2 this past week, is still playing. He said yes, but he sees the two positions as much different.


I will admit my argument was hurt because Robbie Gould was such a solid kicker for the Bears. But looking at this year, Janikowski is still going strong while Urlacher is gracing billboards for hair restoration.

Let's just call the whole thing a wash!

Program notes:

Follow me on twitter at @north2north. Listen to Andy Furman and myself Sunday mornings from 5-8 a.m. on Fox Sports radio, iHeart radio on your smartphone or

• North's column appears each Tuesday and Friday in the Daily Herald, and his video commentary can be found Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at For more, visit

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