WEST PALM BEACH, FLA - The Lou Groza Award is pleased to announce famed NFL and Notre Dame kicker John Carney as the keynote speaker for the 22nd Annual Lou Groza Award Banquet. The event will be held on December 10, 2013 at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. The night is highlighted by honoring the three finalists for the prestigious Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award.
Two nights later, on December 12th, Carney will present the Groza Trophy to the season’s best kicker, as voted by a panel of FBS coaches and SIDs, along with national and regional football writers, and past Groza winners. The winner will be announced by Carney live on ESPN during the Home Depot College Football Awards.
Carney’s kicking career began in Palm Beach County, just down the road from the site of the Groza banquet, when he took over as the kicker and punter at Cardinal Newman High School as a sophomore in 1980. During his senior year, he was named to the All-State First Team, averaged more than 40 yards per punt, and helped the Crusaders to a regional championship.
After high school in Palm Beach County, Carney moved on to South Bend, walking on at the University of Notre Dame and earning a scholarship after just one semester. Four years later, he stood as the top kicker in the school’s long and illustrious history with 51 field goals in 44 career games. That number includes the final kick of his college career, a 19 yarder with two seconds remaining to lift Notre Dame over Southern Cal 38-37 in one of the rivalry’s most remembered games. Sports Illustrated would go on to name Carney as the kicker on its Notre Dame All-Time Team.
Despite his collegiate success, Carney went undrafted and it would be more than three years before he took over as an NFL starter for the San Diego Chargers. He would make up for lost time, going 19-for-21 in 12 games for San Diego in 1990. Eleven years later, he had amassed 1,076 points for the Chargers, a franchise record that still stands today. His 1994 season saw him go 34-for-38 on field goals and a perfect 33-for-33 on extra points, leading the league in field goals and earning both All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors.
In 2001, Carney joined the New Orleans Saints, where he played for the next six seasons, kicking at least 22 field goals in each. His 82.8 field goal percentage is the best by a Saints kicker with at least 100 attempts. After a year filling in for Kansas City and Jacksonville, Carney regained a starting job with the New York Giants in 2008. At age 44, he put together arguably the best season of his career, going 35-for-38 on field goals, 38-for-38 on extra points, and earning his second trip to the Pro Bowl. Carney then rejoined the Saints for 11 games in 2009 before transitioning to coach the specialists on the team’s run to winning Super Bowl XLIV. The Saints would call on Carney once more in 2010, going 5-for-6 in the final two games on his career.
Carney’s 23-year pro career saw him go 473-for-574 on field goals and 625-for-635 on extra points. His 2,062 career points are the 4th most in NFL history, as are his 473 field goals. At 82.41%, he holds a better career field goal percentage than the three kickers (Morten Andersen, Gary Anderson, and Jason Hanson) ahead of him. His 302 career games tie him with Brett Favre for 7th on the all-time list. He is the NFL’s all-time leader with 29 career games of four or more field goals.
In 2003, Carney was inducted into the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2007 the Florida High School Athletic Association followed suit. The FHSAA also named him as the kicker on its All-Century Team and one of the state’s 100 Greatest Players. Since retiring, he has led Carney Coaching, training the next generation of specialists from his personal training facility in Encinitas, California.
For more information on the Lou Groza Award, the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, or to purchase tickets for the Lou Groza Awards Banquet, visit www.LouGrozaAward.com