Patriots Trivia Tuesday: Who came before Stephen Gostkowski?


Welcome to the first installment in Rebecca Agocs’ New England Patriots Trivia Tuesday series. Stop by Musket Fire every Tuesday for a new Trivia Tuesday piece from Rebecca.

This week’s topic: What pro-bowl kicker broke the Patriots franchise field goal record for a single season in 1986, led the NFL in scoring and field goals in the same year?

You know how we watch Stephen Gostkowski kick the football with style, grace, and precision? Who would have ever thought there was a player with just as much promise, flair, and accuracy that reigned before him.  No, not Adam Vinatieri. Let’s be clear, Vinatieri won our hearts at the beginning of the Patriots Dynasty in the early 2000s but what do you know, his records were broken by Gostkowski shortly thereafter once he was drafted in 2006. Though Vinatieri and Gostkowski are household names in any Patriots-loving home, there was a predecessor.

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Think back. Remember Tony Franklin?

Anthony Franklin of Big Spring, Texas took the NFL by surprise in the ‘80s with his unconventional but somehow uniquely effective barefoot kicking style. According to Franklin, taking his shoes off improved his accuracy! He was drafted out of college by the Philadelphia Eagles, and subsequently made his move to New England in 1985 during the sixth-round draft pick. That isn’t his only claim to fame.

Playing for Texas A&M University, Tony Franklin held an NCAA record of most field goals scored. When he left college, Franklin held the NCAA record of 56 field goals. Granted that was some odd 30 years ago and the record has been surpassed by players like Dustin Hopkins of Flordia State University in 2012, Dan Carpenter of Montana in 2007, Jeff Glas of North Dakota in 2005, and Jeff Schebler of Whitewater-Wisconsin in 2009. Low and behold, this isn’t the only record Franklin kicked his way to beating. Tony Franklin kicked his way to breaking 18 NCAA records in his collegiate career.  Franklin managed to convert 16 field goals of 50 or more yards. He also broke the career kick scoring with 291 points, and he had the longest average for field goals made in a career at 39.5 yards. Nothing special, right?

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When Franklin’s career ended in 1988, he left a host of NFL records beaten in his wake. Once a New England Patriot, Franklin led the NFL in scoring with 140 points in 1986. To top it off, he also led in field goals made, 32, in a single season. This afforded him a spot on the AFC pro-bowl team. Breaking a franchise record of field goals made in a season, Franklin etched himself into Patriots history.

Now, though he might be erased from the record holding positions, those who took his place definitely deserve the spotlight. Signed in 1996 and playing for the next ten years as a New England Patriot placekicker was none other than Adam Vinatieri. This superstar boasts four Super Bowls, multiple Pro Bowl starting games, and the first kicker to make the NFL Top 100. Vinatieri ranked fifth highest in NFL history for career field goal percentage at 81.9 percent. Finishing his last season with the Patriots in 2005, Vinatieri led the team as the all-time leading scorer with 1,156 points.

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And now we can set our sights on the man who kicked his way to history. Steven Gostkowski, kicker of all that is precise and between the goal posts, has broken numerous records and gathered a variety of awards. Four time Pro Bowler, two time All-Pro player, ESPN Kicker of the Year in 2015, five time NFL season scoring leader, and NFL record holder for both most consecutive extra points made, and consecutive extra points made including playoffs. Ready for more? Gostkowski also broke the season record for field goal percentages in 2014 with 94.6 percent. No, he doesn’t know how to kick a football or anything. Gostkowski also broke Franklin and Vinatieri’s ‘all-time leading scorer’ record.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports /

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Now, can you imagine if the barefoot-accuracy applied to Gostkowski, too?