Van Heusen Hall of Fame Interview Part 1: Jan Stenerud

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Go to www.fanschoice.com to vote for the 2010 Hall of Fame class today!

[Ed. note: As I bragged about informed you yesterday, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview three NFL Hall of Famers before Sunday's game at Lambeau Field. The interview group consisted of about 10-12 media members. Of course in my case, I use the term "media member" in the loosest sense possible--I'll be the first to admit that I was just a lucky blogger with a new digital voice recorder. We split up into smaller groups on stage before the public event and had a chance to rotate around to each Hall of Famer to ask some questions. Not all of the questions below were asked by me, but I did ask most of them listed for each interview. Here's the first interview with ex-Packer and ex-Viking kicker Jan Stenerud:]

How have you seen the effect of Brett Favre's return in Green Bay this week? Do you think it's good for football?

JS: I think it is. I live in Colorado so I don't see all the local press, but I did see the articles like in the USA Today. I thought it was pretty neat except for a couple things. I think people can go a little too far at times, but overall I think it's great for the game. But you know once the ball is kicked off all of that stuff is forgotten. Brett Favre is surrounded by his teammates and he can handle it.

Now you went through this too, going from the Packers to the Vikings right? What was the experience like the first time you ran out of the visitors' tunnel?

JS: Well yes but on a lot lower level. (Laughs) I spent three and a half seasons in Green Bay and then went to Minnesota. Of course we came back and there were some mixed feelings, but nothing on this level. It was strange not to be in a Packer uniform obviously. Actually the first time I came back the game was in Milwaukee, which was very different than playing here. But still, you are a hired gun when you play pro football and you do the best for the employee you have at the time. It wasn't that big of a deal then, but hardly anything is as big as [Favre's return] when it comes to a player going from one team to another.

Can you talk a little bit as to why you're here today?

JS: Certainly. For the first time, the fans have a chance to vote for the 2010 Hall of Fame class. It's to get the fans more involved and more interested about the Hall of Fame vote, and it'll go on from now on obviously. I know there are several Packers on the list such as Sterling Sharpe and Jerry Kramer, so it's kind of fun to get the fans involved, and Van Heusen and JCPenney have made this possible.

How important do you think the fan's opinion is for the Hall of Fame? Do you think it will influence how the usual Hall of Fame voters cast their ballot?

JS: I don't know how important it's going to be, but if you're a selector and you see the fans make a really great case for a player, you can make the selectors take a real close look at them. If you look at all the players on the list, I think there are 130 or so, they're all really great players. So I guess what you're looking for is making the selectors really dig in as much as possible to make the best choices. I think it's good to get the fans involved.

You're one of only three kickers in the Hall of Fame, and you're the only one that solely kicked throughout your career. George Blanda and Lou Groza played other positions in their career. Do you see any current NFL kickers that have a shot at the Hall of Fame?

JS: Well I was the only one that only kicked because I couldn't do anything else! (Laughs) There will always be a lot less kickers in the Hall of Fame than other positions, I do know that. Twenty years from know do I know how many kickers there will be? I couldn't tell you. But there will be a few, I'm sure of that. Morten Andersen and Gary Anderson were great kickers. I think Gary is eligible this year--I don't know what's going to happen, but he has some great stats. Vinatieri has made two game-winning kicks on the biggest stage of all of pro football. He's off to a great start and he'd be a strong candidate. Ray Guy is probably the best punter of all time. He was drafted in the first round. Oakland, with their championship teams, thought the punter was that important to draft him in the first round. And he lived up to all the expectations, and you know that field position is very important in football. You would think he would get consideration but he's never really made it to the final round of voting. Maybe this year.

Thanks for your time Jan.

JS: My pleasure.

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