It is a record that means something.
"Yeah, that one does," Eagles kicker David Akers said yesterday when asked about his pursuit of the franchise's career scoring mark. "Just because it shows that the organization has let you stay around for a long amount of time, plus you have to be put in a situation where you can score points."
The team's record of 881 points is held by the late Bobby Walston, a wide receiver and kicker with the Eagles from 1951 to '62. Akers has accumulated his 873 points entirely with field goals and extra points during his nine seasons.
"We've had some pretty good scoring offenses in the last nine years," he said.
Akers, who has a chance to break Walston's record on his 33d birthday Sunday when the Eagles face the New York Giants at Lincoln Financial Field, has played for some of the best teams in franchise history. Only six of the NFL's 32 kickers have been with their current teams longer.
Placekickers don't stay in the same place that long if they are not producing, and Akers' inevitable rise to the top of the Eagles' scoring list is proof that he has been the most reliable kicker in team history. He has connected on 81 percent of his field-goal attempts, hitting 192 of 237. That ranks 11th all-time among kickers with at least 150 attempts.
"Ultimately, it shows that you've been able to stay around for a while and stay on one team," Akers said. "That's the biggest thing in today's age."
The thought of Akers going somewhere else would have seemed preposterous as recently as a year ago, but yesterday, even he expressed uncertainty that he would be here through the duration of a five-year contract extension he signed in early November 2005. That deal runs through 2010.
"I'd like to retire here," he said. "If I could play these next three years out on my contract, we'll see what happens."
While Akers marvels at the fact that Atlanta's Morten Andersen has kicked a 47-yard field goal at age 47, he doesn't necessarily want to be doing the same job at that age.
"For myself, I don't want to move my family all around," he said. "This is a tough business, because you don't have any guarantees the next day. As long as I feel healthy and my wife and kids want to go, I'll try to play for a while. But I'd love to stay here for a while."
There's no indication that the Eagles plan to change placekickers, but Akers knows he hasn't been quite as accurate the last three seasons as he was in his first five. At the end of the 2004 season, only Mike Vanderjagt had a better accuracy percentage. By the end of last season, Akers had slipped to eighth in the NFL.
Akers hasn't hit 80 percent of his field-goal attempts since the 2004 season. In his first five seasons, he was never worse than 82.8 percent. This year, he has connected on 19 of 25 (76 percent), tied for 27th in the league.
Three of those misses were at Giants Stadium, Akers' personal house of horrors, and all six were beyond 40 yards. (Two were beyond 50.) Two years ago, Akers missed two 49-yard attempts on opening night in Atlanta and a 43-yarder the next week; he tore his right hamstring in Week 3. That was the worst of his Eagles seasons.
"We've always tried kicks that are more on the aggressive side here," Akers said. "I look at Robbie Gould, who is a great kicker, but he hasn't tried a kick over 50 yards in three years. He hasn't even tried one."
The elements and distances certainly play a role in a kicker's accuracy and distance. While Akers is 19 for 25, opposing kickers are 17 for 22 against the Eagles this season. Akers has also hit his kickoffs deeper on average than opposing kickers in eight of the 12 games.
Akers acknowledged that his leg isn't as strong as it was. But when the Eagles start to think about areas where they can improve in the off-season, it's unlikely that placekicker will be on that list.