Pete Gogolak

Peter Kornel Gogolak (English: /ˈɡoʊɡəlæk/; Hungarian: Gogolák Péter Kornél; born April 18, 1942) is a former American football placekicker in the American Football League (AFL) for the Buffalo Bills and in the National Football League (NFL) for the New York Giants.[1]

Gogolak is widely considered the chief figure behind the game's adoption of soccer style placekicking.[2] In 1966, after playing two seasons for the AFL's Bills, he joined the NFL's Giants in May after playing out his option,[3][4] sparking the "war between the leagues" and effectively expediting the subsequent AFL–NFL merger agreement in June. He is distinguished as being the first Hungarian to play in the National Football League.

In 2010, the New York Giants announced that Gogolak would be included in the team's new Ring of Honor to be displayed at all home games in their new stadium.[5]

Pete Gogolak
No. 3
Personal information
Born:April 18, 1942 (age 77)
Budapest, Hungary
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:190 lb (86 kg)
Career information
High school:Ogdensburg (NY)
AFL draft:1964 / Round: 12 / Pick: 92
  (undrafted by the NFL)
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Field goals:173/294 (.588)
Extra points:344/354 (.972)
Player stats at

Innovation in placekicking

The son of a physician, Gogolak came to the United States with his family as a teen, following the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, and settled in Ogdensburg, New York.[1][6] He played college football in the Ivy League at Cornell University, where he was elected to the Sphinx Head Society and was a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity.[7]

With his roots in European soccer, Gogolak approached the football at an angle and kicked it with his instep, rather than the then-conventional straight-on approach, impacting with the toes.[8] Not taken in the twenty-round 1964 NFL draft, he was selected in the twelfth round of the AFL draft by the Buffalo Bills, bringing yet another innovation to the upstart league that had become known for its experimentation. The unorthodox style that had made Gogolak notable while in college now made him professional football's first "soccer style" (as opposed to "conventional") kicker. In 1965, he scored 115 points and was selected by his peers as a Sporting News All-AFL player. He made 28 of 46 field goal attempts (.609), and connected on all 31 extra point attempts.

Importance in AFL–NFL merger

Gogolak was also a prime factor in the "war between the leagues" and the subsequent merger of the National Football League with the American Football League. Bills' owner Ralph Wilson paid Gogolak $10,000 in 1964 and offered him $13,500 for 1965, exceptional pay, in those days, for a kicker. Choosing instead to take a reduction in pay to $9,900,[9] Gogolak was able to "play out his option", thereby forcing the Bills to match any other team's subsequent offer. A wealthy suitor was at hand: the NFL's New York Giants, playing in the NFL's largest market, found itself saddled with struggling rookie kicker Bob Timberlake, who made just one field goal in fifteen attempts (.067) in 1965. Fullback Chuck Mercein also had two attempts without success and the Giants finished at 7–7, four games behind the Cleveland Browns. The Giants' mediocrity could not be attributed to a lack of field goal proficiency; the average margin in their seven losses was 21 points, and the closest was 13 points (to the Browns).

Wellington Mara of the Giants ignored the owners' "gentleman's agreement" against signing another league's players,[1][9] an arrangement that had previously depressed player wages and prevented inter-league competition over otherwise valued athletes. The only player to jump leagues had been end Willard Dewveall, who left the Chicago Bears after the 1960 season for the AFL's Houston Oilers.[10] Although the leagues competed for new collegiate talent over the next five years, they had adhered to an unwritten understanding not to sign each other's veteran players.

The desperate Giants, then playing in Yankee Stadium, whose late autumn winds sometimes rivaled those faced by Gogolak in Buffalo, signed the Bills star and Gogolak went on to become the Giants' all-time leading scorer. As NFL owners had feared, the May signing led to a marked increase in similar "poachings" by new AFL Commissioner Al Davis, bringing other NFL stars to the newer league. Ultimately, this increasingly expensive competition for key players was a significant contributory factor to the two leagues' owners reaching accord in the AFL–NFL merger on June 8. Part of the agreement was no inter-league trades, so the movement of notable NFL players (Roman Gabriel, John Brodie, and Mike Ditka) to the AFL was disallowed.

Gogolak made 16 of 28 attempts (.571) for the Giants in 1966, but they finished at 1–12–1, the worst record in franchise history (and in pro football in 1966). Gogolak was inducted into the U.S. Army in January 1967; he had failed a physical the previous summer due to a childhood spinal injury, but standards had since been relaxed.[11] He appeared in only nine games in 1967 and retired after the 1974 season, his ninth with the Giants.[1]

After football

After his playing career, Gogolak was a longtime sales executive with the printing firm RR Donnelley in New York City, and resides in Darien, Connecticut.[12]


He was not the only placekicker in his family; his younger brother Charlie played college football at Princeton and followed him into pro football, playing with the Washington Redskins and Boston / New England Patriots in a six-year career.[12] While with the Redskins, he earned a law degree from George Washington University.[13]

In 2008, Pete Gogolak's 36-year-old son David, a restaurateur, was killed in an avalanche while skiing near Whitefish Mountain Resort in northwest Montana.[14][15][16]

As there was no high school soccer team at the time, both brothers played football at Ogdensburg Free Academy in Ogdensburg, New York,[13] a small city on the St. Lawrence River along the Canada–US border.

He is a vocal critic of Colin Kaepernick and NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem. [17] Mr Gogolak is a Republican and long time supporter of Donald Trump. [18]


  • Giants’ all-time leading scorer, with 646 points
  • Giants’ franchise records for most points after touchdowns attempted (277) and made (268)
  • most PATs in a game (eight vs. Philadelphia on Nov. 26, 1972)
  • held record most consecutive PATs at time of retirement, since has been broken (133)
  • held record for most field goals attempted (219) and made (126) at time of retirement, since has been broken

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Kirst, Sean (January 23, 1991). "Pete Gogolak: A 'sidewinding' bridge from New York to Buffalo". Post-Standard. Syracuse, New York. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  2. ^ Spencer, Clark (December 27, 1987). "Hungarian Revolution plays role in revolutionalizing kicking game". Chicago Tribune. Knight Ridder. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  3. ^ "Giants sign Pete Gogolak; all-out war?". Tuscaloosa News. Alabama. Associated Press. May 18, 1966. p. 15.
  4. ^ Hand, Jack (May 18, 1966). "Giants sign Bills Pete Gogolak; move could provoke pro grid war". Lewiston Daily Sun. Maine. Associated Press. p. 13.
  5. ^
  6. ^ "The Americanization of Pete Gogolak". St. Petersburg Times. Florida. Parade magazine. September 18, 1966. p. 14.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Why do pro kickers opt for soccer style?". Scientific American. November 8, 2010. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  9. ^ a b Warren, Matt (May 17, 2011). "Pete Gogolak discusses his role in the AFL–NFL merger". Buffalo Rumblings. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  10. ^ "Chicago Bears veteran Dewveall joins". Victoria Advocate. Texas. Associated Press. January 14, 1961. p. 8.
  11. ^ "Pete Gogolak drafted". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. January 26, 1967. p. 1C.
  12. ^ a b "Gogolak brothers named 2015 NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award recipients". Cornell University Athletics. December 8, 2015. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  13. ^ a b Gay, Gregory (November 2, 2009). "Kicker Gogolak hit height rarely seen". Watertown Daily times. New York. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  14. ^ Hanson, Amy Beth. "January 16, 2008". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  15. ^ Upshaw, Jennifer (January 19, 2008). "Avalanche kills ex-Marin man in Montana". Marin Independent Journal. San Rafael, California. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  16. ^ "David Gogolak". New York Times. (death notices). February 3, 2008. Retrieved March 24, 2016.
  17. ^
  18. ^

External links

1964 Buffalo Bills season

The 1964 Buffalo Bills season was the team’s fifth season. Buffalo was 12–2 in the regular season and won the first of two consecutive championships in the American Football League.

The 1964 Bills' defense set an AFL record by giving up the fewest rushing yards in league history, with only 918, or 65.5 yards per game. They also led the league in points allowed (242), total yards allowed (3,878), first downs surrendered (206), and rushing touchdowns allowed (four).Buffalo's offense also led the AFL in total yards (5,206), passing yards (2,040) and total points (400).

1965 Buffalo Bills season

The 1965 Buffalo Bills season was the team’s sixth season in the American Football League. Though not as statistically dominant as the previous season, the Bills won a second consecutive league championship.

Although Buffalo's offense was in the middle of the pack in 1965, it was their dominant team defense that kept them atop the league's standings. Buffalo gave up only 226 points (16.1 per game), fewest in the AFL, and one point fewer than AFL Championship runner-up San Diego. The Bills' opportunistic defense led the league in interceptions, with 32, and gave up a league-low four rushing touchdowns all season. Between week 6 of the 1964 season, through week eight of the 1965 season, including two 1964 playoff games, the Bills' defense did not allow a touchdown by rushing, a Professional Football record that still stands.

The Bills, who had led the AFL in points, rushing yards and total yards the previous season, suffered significantly after losing star running back Cookie Gilchrist in the offseason. Statistically, the Bills dropped to 6th (out of 8) in rushing yards, and 7th in passing yards. Still, they managed to finish 3rd in the AFL in points scored, with 313 (22.3 per game).The Bills' turnover ratio was +18, best in the AFL, and fourth best in AFL history. Buffalo's +87 point differential was second-best in the league in 1965.

Seven Bills made the 1965 AFL All-Star team: safety George Saimes, cornerback Butch Byrd, linebacker Mike Stratton, defensive tackle Tom Sestak, guard Billy Shaw, kicker Pete Gogolak, and quarterback Jack Kemp.

1968 Dallas Cowboys season

The 1968 Dallas Cowboys season was their ninth in the league and won the Capitol division by five games with a 12–2 record. In the first round of the playoffs, Dallas met the Cleveland Browns (10–4) in the Eastern Conference title game, held at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland. In this era, the host sites were rotated, home field advantage was not adopted for the playoffs until 1975. Dallas had won the regular season game 28–7 in September, and had routed the Browns 52–14 in the previous year's playoffs, but both were played at the Cotton Bowl.

Cleveland upset the favored Cowboys 31–20, sending Dallas to the third place Playoff Bowl at the Orange Bowl in Miami, where they rallied to defeat the Minnesota Vikings, 17–13.The team averaged 30.8 points per game during the regular season, and holds the record for most points scored through the first three games of a season.

1968 Philadelphia Eagles season

The 1968 Philadelphia Eagles season was the franchise's 36th season in the National Football League (NFL). They failed to improve on their previous output of 6–7–1, winning only two games. Eagles fans expected to get O.J. Simpson if they went winless. They finished 2–12, but the Buffalo Bills went 1–12–1 and got Simpson with the first pick. Before they won their twelfth game, the Eagles were on target for a winless season at 0–11. They were the first team in the NFL proper to lose eleven consecutive games in one season since their own 1936 season, though in the AFL the 1962 Oakland Raiders lost their first thirteen games.

One of the most infamous incidents in Philadelphia sports history came at halftime of the final game of the dismal 1968 season, when the Eagles were on their way to losing to the Minnesota Vikings. The Eagles had planned a Christmas pageant for halftime of the December 15 game, but the condition of the field was too poor. Instead, the team asked a fan dressed as Santa Claus to run onto the field to celebrate with a group of cheerleaders. The fans, in no mood to celebrate, loudly booed and threw snowballs at “Santa Claus.”

1970 Chicago Bears season

The 1970 Chicago Bears season was their 51st regular season completed in the National Football League. The club posted a 6–8 record, another below .500 showing, but a significant improvement over their 1–13 record of the previous season.

1970 New York Giants season

The 1970 New York Giants season was the franchise's 46th season in the National Football League. This was the first season for the Giants after the AFL–NFL merger, in which ten American Football League teams joined the National Football League. The team was led by second-year head coach Alex Webster. The Giants finished the season 9–5, missing the playoffs by losing their season finale against the Los Angeles Rams by a score of 31–3. The Giants finished second in the NFC East, a game behind the Dallas Cowboys. They were also only one game out of a wild-card playoff spot, won by the Detroit Lions.

Probably more damaging to the Giants' playoff hopes than the loss to the Rams were two devastating losses to two of the NFL's bottom feeders. The first was a 14–10 loss at New Orleans in week three; the second was a 23–20 setback at Philadelphia on Monday Night Football in week 10, the Giants' only setback in a 10-week stretch following the loss to the Saints. The game at Franklin Field was more memorable for the antics in the broadcast booth, where Howard Cosell vomited on Don Meredith's cowboy boots. Cosell took a taxi back to the hotel at halftime, leaving Meredith to finish the game with Keith Jackson. The Saints finished with the NFL's second-worst record at 2–11–1 (the Giants beat the NFL's worst team of 1970, the 2-12 Boston Patriots); the Eagles were barely better at 3–10–1. The Giants also lost at home to the 6-8 Chicago Bears.

This would be the closest the Giants came to qualifying for the playoffs in the 1970s. The franchise enjoyed only one other winning season in the decade, going 8–6 in 1972. Big Blue did not return to the playoffs until 1981, ending a drought which dated back to the 1963 NFL Championship.

1970 Philadelphia Eagles season

The 1970 Philadelphia Eagles season was their 38th in the league. They failed to improve on their previous output of 4–9–1, winning only three games. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the tenth consecutive season.

The Eagles did have victories over the playoff-bound Dolphins and the cross-state rival Steelers, as well as a 23–20 victory on Monday Night Football over the Giants, ending New York's six-game winning streak and helping deny Big Blue a playoff berth.

1971 Dallas Cowboys season

The 1971 Dallas Cowboys season was the team's 12th in the National Football League and the first at the new Texas Stadium in suburban Irving, Texas. The club led the NFL with 406 points scored. Their defense allowed 222 points.

For the sixth consecutive season, the Cowboys had a first-place finish. They won their second-consecutive NFC championship, then defeated the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI to capture their first Super Bowl championship. They were the first team from the NFC to win a Super Bowl since the 1970 merger of the National Football League and the American Football League, and subsequently, the first team from the NFC East division to win the title.

1972 Philadelphia Eagles season

The 1972 Philadelphia Eagles season was their 40th in the league. They failed to improve on their previous output of 6–7–1, winning only two games. The team failed to qualify for the playoffs for the twelfth consecutive season.

Both of the Eagles' victories were one-point decisions on the road vs. AFC teams, 21-20 over the Kansas City Chiefs and 18-17 over the Houston Oilers. The meeting with the Chiefs was the last until 1992, and Kansas City did not come to Philadelphia until 1998.

Following the disastrous season, the third with three wins or fewer since 1968, general manager Pete Retzlaff resigned, and coach Ed Khayat was fired by owner Leonard Tose.

1973 Green Bay Packers season

The 1973 Green Bay Packers season was their 55th season overall and their 53rd season in the National Football League. The defending division champions posted a 5–7–2 record under third-year head coach Dan Devine, earning them a third-place finish in the NFC Central division.

1974 Dallas Cowboys season

The 1974 Dallas Cowboys season was their 15th in the league. The team failed to improve on their previous output of 10–4, winning only eight games. They failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons and this marked the only season from 1966 to 1983 (18 seasons) that the Cowboys did not qualify.

The Cowboys began with a 1–4 start and although they went 7–2 afterwards, it was not enough to overcome the slow start.

The season featured one of the most memorable Thanksgiving Day games in Cowboys history. Trailing 16–3 in the second half (and having already lost quarterback Roger Staubach to injury), little used backup Clint Longley threw two touchdown passes to lead the team to a 24–23 victory over the Redskins at Texas Stadium.

1974 was also a season of transition; as it would be the final season of future Hall of Fame defensive tackle Bob Lilly. Also finishing their careers that season would be fullback Walt Garrison; and center Dave Manders. Also, this would be the final season for wide receiver Bob Hayes (who would finish his career with the San Francisco 49ers the following year); running back Calvin Hill (who departed for the Hawaiians of the World Football League); defensive end Pat Toomay (who left for the Buffalo Bills); guard John Niland (who left the following year for the Philadelphia Eagles) and quarterback Craig Morton (traded early in the season to the New York Giants) in a Cowboy uniform.

1974 New York Giants season

The 1974 New York Giants season was the franchise's 50th season in the National Football League. The Giants finished in last place in the National Football Conference East Division with a 2–12 record, the team's worst since 1966.The Giants’ home venue in 1974 was the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Connecticut, and they were winless at home in seven games. They won only one of twelve games at the Yale Bowl in 1973 and 1974. The Giants played at Shea Stadium in Queens in 1975 and opened Giants Stadium in New Jersey in October 1976.

1974 St. Louis Cardinals (NFL) season

The 1974 St. Louis Cardinals season was the team's 55th year with the National Football League and the 15th season in St. Louis. The Cardinals scored 285 points while the defense gave up 218 points, en route to the NFC East Championship.The 10–4 Cardinals qualified for the postseason for the first time since 1948 when the franchise was based in Chicago. It was the Cardinals first winning season since 1970 when the Cardinals went 8–5–1. Although the Cardinals and the Washington Redskins finished with identical 10–4 records, the Cardinals won the NFC East title, because of their two victories over Washington that season.

The Cardinals won their first seven games, and were at least tied for first place from Week One to the end of the regular season.

Booth Lusteg

Gerald Booth Lusteg (May 8, 1939 – July 12, 2012) was a placekicker in the American Football League and the National Football League who played for the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. Lusteg played collegiate baseball for the University of Connecticut and played football professionally for 4 seasons. He retired in 1969. He came out of retirement in 1974 and played one season for the Portland Storm. In 1976 he was signed to the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but was released after the first preseason game.

Lusteg, who at the time was an unsuccessful actor, first played football for the New Bedford Sweepers of the Atlantic Coast Football League. After the Bills lost kicker Pete Gogolak, Lusteg was one of nearly 100 people who applied to replace him. Lusteg was one of the only players with kicking experience out of the group: his top two competitors were a German bricklayer and a one-armed cyclops. At the time of the tryout, Gerald Lusteg took on the identity of his younger brother Wallace, who had graduated from Boston College, to shave four years off his perceived age. Using the nickname "Booth", Lusteg was able to pass as four years under his actual age for years, including adopting Boston College as his alma mater (he had not kicked or even played football in college, so he never ran into a challenge to his career).

Lusteg also played some minor league baseball as a 1B-OF with two teams in the West Carolina League in 1961 and 1962, first with the Newton-Conover Twins before being traded to the Statesville Owls. In his final season, Booth hit .230 in 22 games.

Lusteg died on July 12, 2012 after suffering from lung cancer for three years.

Fred Corcoran

Fred J. Corcoran (April 4, 1905 – June 23, 1977) was a golf tournament director, publicist, agent and business manager. Known around the world as "Mr. Golf," he was one of the first non-players to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1975. He acted as tournament manager of the PGA in the 1930s, promotion manager in the 1940s; the founder of the LPGA, the Golf Writers Association of America, the Metropolitan Golf Writers Association; tournament director of the Thunderbird and Westchester Classic; and the director of the International Golf Association. In addition to golf, his diverse career also included the world of baseball, boxing, hockey, football as he at one time managed the business affairs of Sam Snead, Ted Williams, Babe Zaharias, Stan Musial, Tony Lema, Ken Venturi, Seve Ballesteros, Tom Weiskopf and Pete Gogolak.

Corcoran is honored annually with the Corcoran Cup, a golf tournament featuring the nation's top blind golfers, to raise funds for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, an organization that trains dogs for the visually impaired. He was inducted into the Massachusetts Golf Hall of Fame in 2002.

John Johnson (trainer)

John "Mr. J" Johnson (March 31, 1917 – February 28, 2016) was an American athletic trainer, formerly for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL).

He began working for the Giants in 1948, and retired in 2008, after the Giants won Super Bowl XLII. He worked on the sidelines for 874 regular season games and 34 post season games. In addition, he worked as an athletic trainer for Manhattan College. He died in New Jersey at the age of 98 in 2016.

Ogdensburg Free Academy

Ogdensburg Free Academy is a public high school in Ogdensburg, New York. It consists of around 750 or more students in the 7th through 12th grade. The famous Golden Dome is located on State Street and attracts residents from across the North Country. Ogdensburg Free Academy is home to the Van Dusen track meet, one of the oldest sporting events in New York history. Every year, the Ogdensburg Boys and Girls Club of America hosts an 'Expo' where companies (such as the local church or car selling company) can get the most advertisement. Also there are performances (such as the local dance studio or choir) in the Golden Dome.

Pete Gogolak, the first soccer-style placekicker in American professional football, and his younger brother Charlie, who also became a professional football placekicker, both attended Ogdensburg Free Academy and played their first football games there.


Placekicker, or simply kicker (PK or K), is the player in American and Canadian football who is responsible for the kicking duties of field goals and extra points. In many cases, the placekicker also serves as the team's kickoff specialist or punter as well.

Willard Dewveall

Willard Charles Dewveall (April 29, 1936 – November 20, 2006) was an American football end, the first player to jump from the National Football League to the American Football League.

He left the Chicago Bears of the NFL after the 1960 season to play for the AFL champion Houston Oilers. He was the only one to switch leagues for five years, until kicker Pete Gogolak went from the AFL to the NFL in 1966.In 1962, Dewveall caught the (then) longest pass reception for a touchdown in professional football history, 98 yards, from Jacky Lee, against the San Diego Chargers. He was an American Football League All-Star in 1962.

He was Dandy Don's favorite receiver, and All-American at SMU.

Selected by the Bears in the second round of the 1958 NFL draft, Dewveall played a year in the Canadian Football League with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 1958 under head coach Bud Grant, and they won the Grey Cup. He returned to the United States and played for the Bears for two seasons in 1959 and 1960.

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