Sebastian Janikowski, the only Polish player in National Football League, announced his retirement from professional sport after 19 years in the league.
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“My body can just no longer take the physical toll inflicted by playing in the NFL,” Janikowski told American broadcaster ESPN.
The 41-year-old Polish kicker was chosen by Oakland Raiders with a number 17 draft in 2000. It was the first case since 1978 when a kicker was chosen in the first round of the draft. He spent 18 seasons in this team, and one in Seattle Seahawks.
Janikowski was also the longest-tenured Oakland Raiders player in the team’s history, departing the team via free agency in 2018 having appeared in 268 games with Oakland.
In 2003, Janikowski played in the Super Bowl, the final of the NFL, but his team lost to Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21:48. “I still think of the Super Bowl. It still hurts,” he admitted.
Over his career in the NFL, the Polish player recorded a total of 436 successful kicks, which is the ninth result in all history of the league, and scored 1,913 points, the 10th result in history.
Janikowski was the best-paid kicker in the history of NFL. His contracts were worth USD 53.2 mln.
A total of four Poles have played in NFL, but only one of them was not a kicker – Zbigniew “Jason” Maniecki, a defensive tackle, who played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the years 1996-1998.
Other Polish players in NFL were Czesław “Chester” Marcol, who played for the Green Bay Packers in the years 1972-1980, and the late Ryszard “Rich” Szaro, a player of New Orlean Saints and New York Jets in the years 1975-1979.