In the latter years of his career, teammates tirelessly harassed him about his advanced age. But when it came to scoring points, Pay Leahy was all business. From 1974 to 1991, Leahy supplied the New York Jets with stable footing in their special teams' game and finished as the organization's all-time leading scorer with 1,470 points.
In his 18 seasons with the Green and White, Leahy led the team in scoring 11 consecutive times. His recognition wasn't restricted to just New York either. Leahy reached as high as seventh all-time on the NFL's scoring charts upon his retirement in 1991.
"I'm obviously proud of it. I think it isn't just scooting up on that list. It's actually an indication I think of survival," Leahy said in 1990. "I'm most proud of not the number of points I score, it's that I've stayed around all these years."
Leahy's finest statistical season came in 1985 when he accounted for 121 points including a career-long 55 yard field goal against Chicago. Leahy was voted as the Jets MVP by his teammates in 1990, becoming the first kicker in franchise history to receive the honor. He had 101 points and was successful on 24 of 26 field goal attempts, including a streak of 16 straight.
"Pat is an old pro who is dedicated to his craft," said former head coach Joe Walton in 1987. "He continues to prepare himself and his performance reflects it. In addition, he is well-liked by his teammates and that is important, especially for a kicker."
Leahy holds many Jets' records, but none of them seem more unattainable than his 304 career field goals. Trailing him in this category is Jim Turner, who upon retirement in 1970 had 152 field goals - nearly half the amount of Leahy. Turner also shadows Leahy for second most points scored in franchise history with 697.
The Leahy trek to Hempstead, NY was uncharacteristic to say the least. While attending St Louis University, Leahy was a standout soccer player for four years. He helped lead his teams to three NCAA championships and was voted the tournament's top defensive player as a freshman in 1968.
With no football experience, Leahy tried out with the St. Louis Cardinals football team, but he couldn't dethrone veteran Jim Bakken. During a preseason game however, the Jets took note of Leahy's impressive leg and eventually contacted him midway through the 1974 season when regular kicker Bobby Howfield got injured.
From there, Leahy connected on six of 11 field goal attempts during his rookie season. During his early years, Leahy was unable to eclipse 66 points and struggled with his accuracy. In 1975, his field goal percentage dipped to just 62%. That number decreased in 1977 to just 60%, but Leahy stuck with it and broke out with 107 points the following season and eventually finished his career with a field goal percentage of 71.5%.
"Pat is the consummate team player," said Walton. "He works hard, shows good consistency and enthusiasm and has a great rapport with his teammates."