Wide and To The Right

Russell Erxleben
FG Kicker Savant
(In College)

The New Orleans Saints once had a chronically errant field goal kicker named Russell Erxleben. Erxleben got into some serious legal trouble after his football career was in the can, but our anecdote is about a moment in his football playing career.

OK, let’s get started. ~ All of you Longhorn fans should remember Russell Erxleben from his happier kicking days at UT (1976-78), during part of the Earl Campbell era.

Among college kickers, there weren’t any better than this guy. ~ He was so good, in fact, that his 67 yard FG for UT against Rice in 1977 still stands today as the longest FG in college football history. *

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Supplementary Correction

* There is never a good time to simply go with the data that has registered in your own head without further corroboration. (Other than the fact that Babe Ruth hit a record 60 home runs during the 1927 American League season, of course,  all other sports records need to be checked and rechecked prior to publication. We have been reminded by the gentle correction we have received today from colleague/reader Fred Soland on Russell Erxleben’s actual place among the long distance college football field goal kickers, along with our apologies for the error.)

This excerpt from a Wikipedia article seems to confirm the ties and surpassing efforts of others to the distant college field goal record of Russell Erxleben:

  • 69 yards, Ove Johansson, Abilene Christian vs. East Texas State on October 16, 1976. (NAIA)
  • 67 yards, Tom Odle, Fort Hays State vs. Washburn, 1988. (NCAA)
  • 67 yards, Joe Williams, Wichita State vs. Southern Illinois, 1978. (NCAA Division I)
  • 67 yards, Russell Erxleben, Texas vs. Rice, 1977. (NCAA Division I)
  • 67 yards, Steve Little, Arkansas vs. Texas, 1977.[22] (NCAA Division I)
  • 65 yards, J. T. Haxall, Princeton vs. Yale, 1882.

All of the above kicks were successful with the use of a kicking tee, which was banned by the NCAA after the 1988 season.

The longest known drop-kicked field goal in college football was a 62-yard kick from Pat O’Dea, an Australian kicker who played on the Wisconsin Badgers football team. O’Dea’s kick took place in a blizzard against Northwestern on November 15, 1898.[24]

whole article link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_goal

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A straight-on kicker off the tee, Erxleben made All-America as a punter for his three years of varsity play. Helped a great deal by his exceptional ability as both a place kicker and a punter, Russell Erxleben then went to the New Orleans Saints as the 11th pick in the 1st round in the 1979 NFL draft.

The pressure apparently got to Erxleben in the NFL and he began to miss field goals ~ both in numbers and moments of critical game notoriety.

The depression that grew from this kind of NFL heat upon one of the greatest kickers in college football history apparently wasn’t lost upon the media observers who followed Erxleben around, probably looking as much for a story angle than they were anything that might actually help the distraught young man.

Maybe they had not counted on the fact that Russell Erxleben also carried with him an incredible sense of self-deprecatory humor about his dilemma.

Wish I could recall the writer who originally reported the great upcoming punch line exchange. I’d like to give him credit, but it has been too many years. And I have forgotten.

Nevertheless, feel free to laugh whenever you can’t keep from laughing.

The writer asked Erxleben if his failures as an NFL FG kicker ever had driven him to thoughts of harming himself?

“Well,” a straight-faced Russell Erxleben supposedly offered. “I did put a pistol to my head and pulled the trigger the other night, but no harm was done. ~ You see ~ the bullet sailed wide and to the right!”

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Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “Wide and To The Right”

  1. Fred Soland Says:

    Bill,

    I was at UT when Erxleben kicked his 67 yard FG. His record was actually tied by Steve Little of Arkansas a few weeks later the same season. The kick was ultimately bested by Ove Johansson who I believe played for Abeliene Christian and went for 69 yards. I believe technically Erxleben and Little still share the Division 1 record, but the collegiate record belongs to Johansson

  2. J-Dub Says:

    At least Erxleben made a pretty good criminal…
    https://www.statesman.com/NEWS/20140224/Ex-Longhorn-kicker-Russell-Erxleben-gets-90-months-in-prison-for-scams

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