Jan Stenerud knew little of the American version of football until he came to the States on a skiing scholarship to Montana State University.
On his way to Bozeman in the fall of 1963, Jan stopped in Buffalo, N.Y., to visit his sister, Berit. While in Buffalo, he was introduced to American football by Berit's then-boyfriend, sportswriter Larry Felser.
Jan and his sister joined Felser for an AFL game between the Bills and, coincidentally, the Kansas City Chiefs. Jan was puzzled by the game (which ended in a 27-27 tie), unable to understand why the players "kept jumping on top of each other."
Of course, all of this would soon make sense.
Chiefs coach Hank Stram, who also kicked on the collegiate level at Purdue, was instrumental in developing the Stenerud's talent. In November of 1966, Stram decided that he would take a look at Stenerud in action, when Montana State played in Tulsa.
After seeing just one of Stenerud's kickoffs, Stram knew he had something special.
"He kicked the ball, and it sailed over the end zone and seven rows deep into the stands," Stram said. "That's all I needed to see."
In his final college season at Montana State (1966), Stenerud broke the NCAA record for most points by a kicker in a season (82). The Chiefs signed Stenerud following his All-American 1966 season and gave him a signing bonus of $80,000, a car of his choice and two first-class airline tickets from Bozeman to Oslo.
When asked what type of car he chose, Jan responded, "There weren't many Mercedes available in the U.S. back then, so I went for the (Oldsmobile) Toronado. It was a solid, front-wheel-drive car."
The bonus alone was more than he could have hoped to make as a ski jumper.
In the decade leading up to Stenerud's rookie year, professional kickers converted just 52 percent of their field goal attempts. In Stenerud's first four professional seasons, he was 108 for 153—a 71-percent success rate.
He scored more than 100 points in each of his first five seasons, hit 16 straight field goals in 1969 and converted 212 of his first 213 career extra-point attempts (99.5 percent in his first six years). He scored 770 points in his first seven pro seasons.