- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 26, 2003

SAN DIEGO Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski finally might be growing up.
The former Florida State standout with the 255-pound frame and the cannon leg has battled problems throughout his three-year career. Most recently, he was arrested Oct.2 and charged with two counts of DUI. The incident continued a history of traffic violations.
His off-field transgressions haven't been limited to cars. In 2001, he was charged but acquitted of possessing GHB, the "date-rape drug," and in 2000 he was charged but acquitted of attempting to bribe a police officer.
Throw in a lousy 68.8-percent success rate on field goals as a rookie, a bout with cellulitis last year and reporting overweight to training camp this year, and it's clear the Raiders have had a rough journey with their first-round pick in the 2000 NFL Draft.
However, this season Janikowski led AFC kickers in scoring (128 points), connecting on 78.8 percent of his field goals. And he's 5-for-6 in the playoffs, converting from 43 and 32 yards in last weekend's win over the Tennessee Titans to capture AFC special teams player of the week honors.
Raiders coach Bill Callahan believes Janikowski's production is the result of increased maturity.
"I've mentioned several times this year, his maturity has really taken another step," Callahan said. "I think he's, as a professional, what it's all about. He finally understands what preparation means. He understands what performance means not just on the field but off it as well. I sense some major strides in his disposition and demeanor and the nuances in what he does to prepare himself."
Janikowski, for his part, has learned to live with the bad rap.
"It doesn't bother me," he said. "People make their own choices and [make up] their own minds. If you want to say I'm a bad guy, OK. It's not people who know me or live with me for a year or two. [Theyre] going to see what's inside, not what's outside."
If today's Super Bowl XXXVII between the Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers is as close as forecast, Janikowski's contributions will be crucial. Incidentally, this is the first Super Bowl with two foreign-born kickers: Janikowski (Poland) and the Bucs' Martin Gramatica (Argentina).

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