|Date of birth:||April 18, 1942|
|Place of birth:||Budapest, Hungary|
|Height:||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Weight:||190 lb (86 kg)|
|AFL draft:||1964 / Round: 12 / Pick: 92|
|Career highlights and awards|
Career NFL statistics
|Field goals:||173/294 (.588)|
|Extra points:||344/354 (.972)|
|Stats at NFL.com|
Peter Kornel Gogolak (in Hungarian: Gogolák Péter Kornél, born April 18, 1942 in Budapest, Hungary) is a retired 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. He is widely considered the chief figure behind the game's adoption of soccer style placekicking. In 1966, after initially playing two professional seasons for the AFL's Bills, he joined the NFL's Giants while still under contract with his former team, sparking the "war between the leagues" and the subsequent AFL–NFL merger.
In 2010 the New York Giants announced that he would be included in the team's new Ring of Honor to be displayed at all home games in their new stadium.
Innovation in placekicking
Gogolak attended and played college football at Cornell University, where he was elected to the Sphinx Head Society and was a member of Delta Upsilon fraternity. Gogolak's 41-yard field goal during Cornell's 1961 season, the first by a soccer-style kicker, became a significant moment in the development of college football, and stood as an example of the changes Gogolak would later bring to the professional game. Prior to Gogolak, placekickers approached the ball straight on, with the toe making first contact with the ball. Gogolak, reflecting his roots in European soccer, instead approached the ball at an angle and kicked it with his instep. Upon graduation in 1964, he was signed by the American Football League's 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 AFL All-League player.
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 C. Wilson, Jr. 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, Gogolak, like a later restricted free agent, was able to "play out his option," thereby forcing the Bills to match any other team's subsequent offer. Fortunately for Gogolak, 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. The Giants, having witnessed Timberlake miss his thirteenth consecutive kick, ignored the owners' "gentleman's agreement" against signing another league's players, an arrangement that had previously depressed player wages and prevented inter-league competition over otherwise valued athletes. The desperate Giants, then playing in a Yankee Stadium whose mid-winter winds sometimes rivaled those faced by Gogolak in Buffalo, signed the Bills star; Gogolak would go on to become the Giants' all-time leading scorer. As NFL owners had feared, the signing led to a marked increase in similar "poachings" by 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.
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 New England Patriots in a six-year career.
Both brothers went to Ogdensburg Free Academy where they both played football. Ogdensburg Free Academy is in Ogdensburg, NY a small city on the St. Lawrence River along the Canadian border.
- 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)
- most consecutive PATs (133)
- most field goals attempted (219) and made (126).
- NFL Network: Top Ten Things that Changed the Game
- Gogolak's 1965 Topps football card
- Career stats
- More Career stats